Friday, August 29, 2014

Sight and Sounds

There are very few instantly recognizable sounds in this world – sounds that require no cognitive processing whatever – and they are almost all things you don’t want to hear.

The roar of a tornado.  The particular ratchet of a pump-action shotgun.  The squeal of skidding tires.  The wail of a siren.  Things like that.

This week I discovered a new sound to add to that list: the unmistakably precise click of a pair of glasses snapping in half two days before your first class of the semester.

It was, as so many things are these days, entirely my fault.  I was upstairs sitting on my bed, reading while Lauren brushed her teeth.  I’d taken my glasses off and set them down because I have reached the point where I actually read better with out them than with them.  I got up to do something, went back to the bed to sit down, put my hand out and came down right on top of them – my palm directly over the frame.  I must have caught it at some odd angle because it snapped fairly easily, and neatly in two right where the bridge met the lens frame.  This also had the effect of popping out that lens.

“Oh,” I thought.

Or words to that effect.

Fortunately I had stumbled across my previous pair of glasses in a drawer just a week or two earlier, so I knew I had backup.  They are not the bifocals that my current pair are, nor are they the current prescription, which meant that even in the long focus range they were a bit on the moody side.  But they would do for driving, and – as noted – I didn’t need them to read anyway.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is not a king.  He is a chauffeur.

I didn’t really have time to do much about this before my first class.  I wasn’t about to try soldering the frame back together – somehow that had “Onion headline” written all over it.  Tape would just confirm everyone’s stereotypes.  I didn’t want to pay too much to get them fixed, since it’s about time to get my eyes examined again anyway and there was no doubt in my mind that I’d end up with a different prescription.  And the earliest I could get an eye appointment my insurance would pay for is late October, which isn’t bad in the scale of things but not all that helpful in the current situation.

So I decided to bull my way through my first class with the old pair and see how it went.  Who knew?  If it went well, then I could just keep doing that for a few weeks and the problem would go away.

Except that, as noted, the old ones are monofocal and it didn’t take long before I realized that I do, in fact, make use of the bifocal part of my current pair of glasses.  I hadn’t been sure about that for the longest time, given that I have been taking them off to read for a while now.  Perhaps my eyes had changed that much?  Perhaps I could go back to normal glasses?

Well no.

When I teach, I have my notes on the podium in front of me.  But you can’t teach looking down – that’s one of the most basic facts about teaching.  You have to make eye contact.  And if I didn’t have my old glasses on, the students were just blurs.  But if I did have my old glasses on, my notes were a blur. 

Choices, choices.

Thus I found myself back at Sears the following day, hoping that they had a match to my broken frame so I could just get the lenses put in until the new prescription undoubtedly arrived.  And lo and behold, they did, for what turned out to be an eminently reasonable fee.

I can now see.

Life is good.

But watch out for the next sound you hear.  It could be a doozy.


Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

Titanium frames, safety glass. The frames have been relensed many times. But... if they should slide off and fall and bounce on the hard tile over concrete of a university restroom, they might bounce on the first hit, and amazingly break a lens on the lesser, lighter hit.

Thank goodness for spare glasses.

And yeah, since they were Photogray Extras, after a year you can't switch just one lens because the tint is different. So two new lenses.

But the titanium frames are still good many years and lenses later. (grin)

Dr. Phil

David said...

I had a pair of Flex-Metal frames when the girls were little and would grab at anything shiny - that was money well spent.

Now that they're older I don't worry about that anymore, and given my deeply unadventurous lifestyle I hadn't really considered the odds of having to replace a broken pair of glasses before I needed new lenses anyway. It's the first time it's happened since I got my first pair of glasses in 1989.

Now I know.