My first visit to the optometrist (and a lesson on avoiding assholes)

My vision has been steadily on the decline for the last few years, but it’s only been in the past 6 months when the world ten feet in front of me started to become fuzzy around the edges, a light blur of shapes and colors, that I finally felt the impetus to go to an optometrist. 

I didn’t know what to expect when I walked the three blocks to my new optometrist’s office, but from the moment we shook hands, my optometrist proved himself to be a wonderful, gentle person. Another Cal grad who attended Berkeley exactly 40 years before me, whose eyes almost glistened as he recalled the days when he lived right in the thick of the anti-war movement that had overtaken the city, the tear gas from People’s Park that would waft into his dorm room. 

The appointment itself went normal enough - he put dye in my eyes, asked me to identify letters, shone light into my pupils, and told me I was doing a great job, as if to validate that yes! That is the letter ‘E,’ and yes, that second 'E’ was definitely fuzzier than the first 'E,’ my semi-blurry eyes are such champs, running on all cylinders despite their near-sightedness.

By the end of the appointment it was no surprise when he said I needed glasses. He directed me downstairs to his secretary, an older woman with a superficial smile that sat like a plastic attachment on her face, one that you could peel right off like a Mrs. Potato Head.

She quickly told me how much my insurance would cover for new frames and then immediately directed me to the cases, and I, being new to the optometrist, was confused and told her that I hadn’t planned on buying frames today and that I was planning on buying glasses from Warby Parker. She then looked at me with the most condescending stare, as if I was an idiot who had just told her something completely ridiculous, like, “Actually, I’m going to pass on glasses, I’m just going to go home and squeeze some peach juice into my eyes because I hear the natural acidity is supposed to clear near-sightedness right up!" As if I had wasted my time even coming to the optometrist if I wasn’t going to get glasses, and wasn’t that obvious, you plebeian fool. 

Eventually I caved to her condescension, because, again, optometrist virgin here, and I let her half-heartedly present me with 5 or 6 frames, eventually selecting some cheap pair that looked like something I could have bought at Claire’s 10 years ago for about 1/20th of the cost. I paid, I left, and then I immediately called my sister and my mom, both of whom are seasoned glasses-wearing optometrist pros, and had them confirm what I already knew - this woman had fucked me and had tricked me into thinking that I’d asked her to do it. 

I went back about 15 minutes later armed with my sister, and I spoke to a different, younger woman who reversed the charge without question, set up a new appointment so I could get contacts, and spoke to me in such a soft, soothing manner that it almost seemed as if diffusing this type of situation was already familiar to her - I imagine it happens a lot with the other woman I spoke with first. 

Reflecting back on my interaction with the first woman, I find myself rattled and discomforted by the whole event. While I, admittedly, am somewhat of a manipulative person, the boundaries of my manipulation only extend as far as convincing my friends that they want to get dinner where I want to get dinner. There’s no malice in it, it’s never at the expense of another person’s comfort (and please, when it comes down to it, my friends know that they are well-fed people because of me). So I find it difficult to digest when others don’t seem to follow the simple philosophy of 'Not Being an Asshole.’

This woman took advantage of me knowing that it was my first visit to the optometrist and despite my explicit declaration that I wasn’t interested in buying frames today. She took advantage of my knowledge gap, wedged herself inside, and played me like a puppet with her hand up my ass.

While I resent her for the experience, I do appreciate that because of her, I will never be fucked at an optometrist again. I know to stand my ground and to say an enthusiastic, "Fuck no, and fuck you!” to the next person who tries to peddle some shitty, marked up Walgreens frames to me. 

So to the woman who treated me like an idiot today: fuck no to your shitty ass glasses, and fuck you, thanks for nothing!