As an educated white male I don’t usually find myself on the receiving end of any sort of discrimination. Yesterday I had a little taste.
I was in for an eye exam. It’s been four or five years since I had them checked, so it was time. My eyesight hasn’t changed much but you never know what might turn up. Besides, my old glasses are so scratched up I feel like I’m living in an unending snow storm.
After completing his exam the optometrist, a man who could not have been more than ten years my junior, told me he was pleased with the health of my eyes and that my prescription had changed only slightly.
But, then he gave me a charitable look, “How about close-up? Do you have any trouble with reading or seeing detail?”
I’d breezed through a reading of the tiniest print on the card he’d just given me, so I told him, “No, no problems.”
“You don’t have to hold things a little farther away to see them properly?”
“Well, you’ll probably notice that you will, soon. It’s inevitable and, when you first notice it, the best thing to do is to move to varifocal lenses. Don’t try to fight it, just get some new glasses.”
He was looking at me like he was genuinely surprised I was still standing.
Can’t you feel it? You’re already on a slippery slope Mr. Carswell. You’re crumbling before my young and perfect eyes.
Later, I was choosing frames I didn’t really want.
“We’ve got this ‘two-for-one’ special!” I was told.
“Yes, but I like these frames and there’s nothing wrong with them. Can’t you just make some new lenses for these frames?”
She gave me the same look I’d seen in the doctor’s face. Are they trained to do this?
“Would you like the anti-glare coating? The doctor recommended it because you drive at night. It’s only £30 extra.”
Do I really need this? I wondered.
But, there’s something about the phrase, “The doctor recommends…” that carries with it a measure of authority. Maybe I am becoming feeble, maybe I am a hazard to myself and others?
“Yes, I’ll have the anti-glare.”
So, I’ve got these new glasses. They look good, but they make me dizzy and they sit crooked on my face. I had the same problem last time and had to go back for innumerable adjustments. It took forever to get them to feel right. I think my ears are crooked.
I’d also succumbed, again, to the attendants counsel that I didn’t need the ear pieces that curl around your ears.
“These are a perfect fit. It’ll take two weeks to get the curly bits put on. No one uses these things anymore. How old did you say you were anyway?”
I don’t like change and I’m inclined to take these new glasses back for a refund. But, I’m not sure I’m old enough yet.
After all, it’s only older people who’ve learned to be assertive enough to get what they really want.