A visit with the eye doctor
I knew I needed a new prescription for my glasses. Distance was still OK, but I was having trouble reading. I already had progressives (for the under-40 crowd, that means glasses that accommodate for troubles in seeing both near and far) – they just needed to be modified. And sure enough, the results from my eye test indicated that change was in order.
New frames or just new lenses? The inner-battle
New frames or just new lenses? The truth was, I wanted new frames. Mine were getting outdated. The young woman who was helping me navigate the frames on display smoothly slipped in a reference to the ones I was wearing as “old lady glasses.” Ouch! So new frames and new lenses? And the price would be . . . another ouch!
An inner battle started to rage within me. You need new glasses! Just get them. Of course you want them to look good. They go on your face! said one part of my brain.
But another part answered back. She said “old-lady-glasses” just to get you to buy new frames! You don’t need to have the latest style! You’re on a frugal mission to get out of debt, and you have to rise above marketing pressures. Get new lenses and keep the old frames.
Voice #1 came back with, You didn’t like the frames to begin with. You’ll regret the compromise if you stick with the old frames, and you’ll resent your choice. That resentment will just end up sabotaging your frugality in the long term.
A third region of my brain interjected with, It’s not THAT bad the way it is now, is it? You still see fine for distances, and you can just adjust for reading. Wearing your old frames for a while won’t bring on any resentment if you don’t spend anything on new lenses either.
I managed to work my decision-making faculties into a state of paralysis, and that final voice won the day. I left the optometrists with a new prescription, and the same old frames and lenses, feeling an uncertain sense of victory for my frugal move. I was no marketer’s pawn! More money to put against the debt! And I could tough out the sight thing. Hmmm….
That was my eye doctor visit. In 2013.
As the months went by, it became more and more difficult for me to read with my glasses on. Eventually, I got into the habit of taking them off to read books, newspapers, and magazines. This is a bit odd, I realized. But it worked.
There was a gradual change in my ability to read on a computer screen too. “You look so serious. Is something wrong?” asked a colleague one day as I checked my e-mails. “No,” I answered. “I’m just focused.” I had to hold my head at unnatural angles to be able to make out the words in front of me. My neck started to bother me.
This past summer, I realized that I had allowed things to go too far. I needed new glasses! And my frames, now even more outdated than they had been two years earlier, would have to go. No indecision. No opposing voices battling in my brain. I was moving forward with single-mindedness. I would just have to wait until November for an appointment. Ugh!
I asked to be contacted in the case of a cancellation, and October 2nd, I had my appointment. Not surprisingly, my prescription had changed yet again. I selected the frames I liked best – the very ones I had considered two years earlier. The price was high, but I knew it would be. Measurements taken, details decided upon, order made. Mission accomplished. I’d just have to wait for two weeks until the new glasses came in.
Shock and an eye-opener
This month, I’ve been struck by the speed at which the days have been shortening in nature’s march towards winter. It happens every year, but somehow, it has seemed more dramatic a change than usual this time around. Dark so early in the evening. Dark when I start my day.
This past Tuesday, I was in my car by 7:00 am. Light rain made conditions less than ideal. A little slippery. Overcast skies combined with my rain-splattered windshield and shimmering, light-reflecting roads to create poor visibility. The red traffic light seemed to last forever as I waited to make my left-hand turn. Finally green. I put my foot on the gas and steered – until an umbrella waved urgently in front of me. Hit the brakes! Through a mind fog, I became aware of indistinct words flying out of the mouth of the angry man who had appeared out of nowhere in front of my car. The moment passed, and I drove on in shock. I had almost hit him!
My face said it all when I came into work. I told the first two colleagues I saw about my near miss. “I just did not see him,” I explained, still absorbing the horror of what could have been. And what was their response? One of them asked, “Is the prescription for your glasses outdated?”
“Yes!” I answered – horrified again – at how obvious a mistake I had been making. I just didn’t tell him how outdated. “In fact, I’m getting new glasses this week.”
If I had made another choice after my visit with the eye doctor in 2013, would I have seen that man walking across the dark, rainy street under his umbrella two years later? If I had bought the new lenses – with or without new frames – would the visibility of the morning have been as bad as my experience of it was? Thank God it didn’t turn out worse!
I picked up my new glasses two days later – on Thursday after work. The difference is pretty significant. I can read both print on paper and digital text on screens without difficulty. Distances are sharper too. Only a few people have noticed the different look of the glasses, and while there might be a moral in that story, I’m still happier with what I see in the mirror.
As I continue on this journey out of debt, I believe I’ll be wiser in my application of frugality. There are times to say “No.” There are times to say “Not yet.” But there are also times when the best thing to do is to make the purchase. I won’t forget the shock of that umbrella waving me to a sudden stop any time soon. Another lesson learned. A real eye-opener.
Have you ever misapplied frugality? Have you ever experienced the shock of an accident – or a near-miss? Your comments are welcome?