Saturday, October 30, 2010

There is none so blind. . .

I think it started in Grade 3, which is to say, 3 - 4 (I had, in the parlance of the day, "skipped" and was doing two grades in one year). But in spite of my supposed smartness, I was always daydreaming in class, not paying much attention to what was going on.

Miss Wray, the spinster schoolteacher at McKeough School in Chatham, Ontario, kept reprimanding me. "Margaret! Pay attention to the board."

Board. There was a. . . board?

At home, I watched Batman and The Monkees by making a little pinhole with my fingers. One day my mother asked me why I watched in such an odd manner.

"Because I'm trying to see."

After that, my nickname was Four Eyes, and it only got worse from there. Over the years, my lenses got increasingly thicker, and due to astigmatism, the edges were like Coke bottle bottoms. I didn't quite have that swimmy-eyed, distant look of the terminally nearsighted, but almost.

Glasses were made of real glass then, and there were no side pieces, so the bridge of my nose was chronically ulcerated and red, and the glasses fell off when I bent over. The frames were hideous. When I got new ones, kids would snatch them off my face, try them on and yell, "Gawd, are you ever blind!"

About a million years later, now that we have ultra-thin plastic progressive lenses that do everything but tap-dance, you'd think that attitude would have faded, but I've found it lingering in the strangest places. Such as the optometrist's office.
I am what we delicately call "high-index", and I have been all my life. So imagine my reaction when the clerk in Pearle Vision (yes, it was Pearle Vision - don't go there!) looked at my prescription, looked at me, and said, "Wh-o-o-o-o-o-a-a-a-h-h-h."

You know, if I went in for a hearing aid, I don't think they'd say to me, "Jesus, what are you, deaf?" Or maybe they would, who knows.

This is a tangential story, but I have to include it here because it infuriated me so much. It takes me forever to choose a new pair of frames, because I never take them off. They're part of my face. I don't take off my nose, do I? (Do you?). And naturally, even with medical coverage, discounts, etc., I can expect to pay $400.00 per pair, so I don't want to pick something I can't live with.
Last time I needed new glasses, I must've tried on seven hundred pairs in every optical outlet in the mall, until - voila - I went into Dr. Boyco's Image Optometry (actual name: remember it!) and found a pair I really liked, in a delicate blue. (I can't wear the heavy dark plastic Woody Allen things that everyone seems to like now, because they make me look like an elderly nerdette.)

I told them I hadn't had my eye test yet. "Oh, that's OK," the young woman clerk said. "We'll put them aside for you."

Mere days later, I came in to order my glasses.

"Why don't you look around for frames?"

"Oh, no, I already picked a pair. You put them aside for me."

It was the same clerk. She looked blank.


"Remember, I came in the other day and. . ."

"No, I don't think you. . . "

"Could you look around for them? They're blue, metallic, sort of rectangular-ish. . ."

She glanced around behind the counter. "Nope, they're not here."

"But you put them aside for me. You - "

"Sorry. They're not here anywhere."

"Could you, like, ask the other clerks, or - "

"I already looked for them. They're not here."

"So what happened to them?"

She shrugged.

"I guess somebody put them back out on the shelves."

I scoured the shelves. I wanted those frames more with every passing minute. I looked at every single pair, then I did it all again.

"They're not here."


"Could you maybe help me look?"

"But you said they're not here."

"So what happened to them?"

"Oh. Uhhhhhhh. . . I guess somebody already bought them."

So somebody sauntered into Dr. Boyco's Image Optometry, plucked a pair of frames off the shelves (which just happened to be the one pair out of 700 that I wanted), paid for them, and left. None of that getting-the-right-size nonsense. I guess one size fits all, eh? (- and who needs lenses anyway?)

I should have turned on my heel and left, but by that time I was so humiliated and beaten-down that I ordered my (distant) second choice, and I wear them to this day. But I feel bad about it. THEY should be feeling bad, but instead they're simply oblivious and feel nothing. I feel bad because they didn't bother to help me (because they didn't care), and made me feel ashamed of myself for still dealing with them. It was the antithesis of what we so longingly refer to as "customer service", which is supposed to be the very essence of good business.

It's two years later, but there's one thing I know: somewhere, right now, right this minute, in Dr. Boyco's Image Optometry in Coquitlam Centre in beautiful British Columbia, a pair of blue metallic frames is waiting. Waiting for some clueless idiot to open a drawer or lift up a phone book to find them.

Then put them back out on the shelves.

Can I get an eye transplant now?