She took my glasses. “It’s going to be about forty-five minutes, Mr. Phillips,” came the warning. I was prepared for a delay, so I took my seat in the waiting room. I used to spend this time reading the already-worn magazines which are always hanging around reception areas, but today as I bided my time, I pulled out my Swiss-Army phone to check my email and the auction I was running on Ebay. That didn’t take long (slow day for both emails and the auction), so the Solitaire game, always a welcome time-waster when no other alternatives are available, popped up on the screen.
I was in the optometrist’s office to pick up my new lenses, probably long past due, given the changes in my eyesight over the last couple of years. Since I’m too cheap to buy new frames if there is any wear left in the current pair, they were cutting the new lenses to fit the old ones. I could hear the machine back there, grinding or cutting something. After awhile, the optometrist, an old acquaintance of mine, came out and sat in the chair next to me just to talk. We gabbed about children, and old times. Doc was an umpire years ago when my son played Little League, giving opportunity to all kinds of jokes about glasses and bad calls in the ball games. We just sat and remembered “way back when” and then he was gone again to check on the progress.
“Come on back, Paul,” he called out, directing me to a seat in the fitting room. “She’s just going to get them cleaned and then we’ll make sure they’re okay.” I sat where I was directed (again) and waited…and waited…and waited. Finally, he walked into the room and told me what the delay was about this time. It seems that when the lab makes the type of bifocals I wear, they have to mark them to make sure the optometrist aligns them correctly when cutting them to fit the frames. Otherwise, I might be looking cross-eyed to use the stronger magnification needed to read these days, instead of looking out the bottom of the glasses. This time, they had marked the lenses with a marker which wouldn’t wash off. Try as they might, two dots remained on each lens. They cleaned them with normal glass cleaner, and then still stronger liquids; finally placing them in an autoclave to see if the steam would remove the marks. It didn’t.
The young lady came out with the glasses in hand to show me the marks, asking half-jokingly if I wanted to just go ahead and take them as they were. We talked a few moments about how the eyes would adjust to the marks and after awhile, would not even recognize that they were there. I declined, at which time she replaced my old lenses in the frames and handed them back to me. “We’ll send them back and make them right this time,” the girl at the desk told me as I left. I assume that I’ll wait another forty-five minutes the next time they call me back. But hey, at my age, I’ll take all the breaks I can get.
The lady’s comments got me thinking, though. I remember that my mom used to look at me as I came home from school and ask, “How can you see through those things? They’re filthy!” I would remove the glasses and look at them from a distance; acknowledging that they were indeed, filthy. The odd thing is that I never noticed the filth. I would start out the day with clean lenses, accumulating dust and grease gradually as the day progressed. Little by little, my vision was obscured, never being noticed at all. But, when I cleaned them! Wow! The world became clearer and so much more well defined. Obviously, the world hadn’t changed, so it could only be that I was just looking at it differently.
How’s your vision? Have you purposely bought a distorted picture of reality? Or maybe you’ve just got a build-up of filth from years of being out in the elements. Either way, you’ll be amazed at how very different the view really can be. Sometimes blindness needs a miracle touch to give sight. Other times, we just need to employ the tools we’ve been given and clean the lens. Either way, it’s a great perspective when unobscured by the grit and grime of doubt and cynicism which are thrown into our faces daily.
I won’t be buying the defective lenses this time. You might remind me to clean the new ones once in awhile, though. Fuzzy is okay for teddy bears, but not when I’m looking at your smiling face!
“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
Gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day.”
“They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”