Can’t Afford Progressives

Long overdue for new eye glasses, I went to one of those one-hour places to exercise a $99 frame-and-lens coupon.

Not naïve enough to believe anyone walks out of there with a decent pair at that cost, my assumption was I’d drop double that.

Took the exam for an updated prescription and they lobbied me to opt for “Progressive Lenses.”


This sounded like the latest advancement in eye care, and who wouldn’t want increased benefits and the most forward thinking visionary science!

There were a few differences mentioned from the conservative, old fashioned ones I’d been adhering to – one being it would take some time to get used to them. But after a few weeks “I wouldn’t notice the difference.”

Odd as that sounded, one has to expect change – time marches on, we’re in the 21st Century, progress inevitable.

I was disappointed at the lack of choices the eyewear moguls carried. I’m a Ray Ban kinda guy. I know that may not be very progressive, but there has to be a constant in this ever-changing world. Heck, I’m almost old enough to be considered a relic, which was a term my generation dubbed on the Hippies in the 1990s. And my cousin fromNorth Dakotawas a serious Hippie, though “Serious” and “Hippie” in the same sentence could be construed as an oxymoron. He was a Conscientious Objector to the Vietnam War, hitch hiked acrossAmerica, lived in a teepee and had to be pardoned by Pres Carter for refusing to fight that unjust war.

But I digress. A problem ensued that I recall having when I first started wearing eyeglasses. Too cool, or not cool enough.

One sales woman would select a pair that were way cooler than I am, another way too uncool. Choices like these need to fit not only ones ability to pay, but also reflect a cultural lifestyle. If the glasses are cooler than you, once you open your mouth, you can be viewed as some sort of Hipster wannabee. Hipsters are generally pretty cool, and can pull of certain styles I cannot. If the glasses are less cool that you, then you come across as lacking confidence. Ray Bans work for me. They’re from my generation.

Unfortunately, no Ray Bans. So, I opted from what was offered, being assured I’d be getting a great deal. Found a solid pair of aviator-type prescription sunglasses that kind of make me look like Walking Boss from the movie Cool Hand Luke. Great movie, bad ass character. Considered the 2nd sweatiest movie of all time. Ben Hur being the first. The sunglasses are probably cooler than I am, but I mainly only wear them driving or trout fishing. Trout don’t assess coolness, just bait and lures.

At the register, that coupon didn’t add up to much. The Progressives were far more expenses than initially billed, and the line item for frames were more than double the projected budget.

Then I had to wait two weeks for the glasses because Progressives are a special order.

Disgruntled at not getting the one-hour turnaround, Ray Bans or savings, I headed back to work, hanging my hat on the fact these glasses would meet all my visionary expectations – things would be illuminated, finally.

Two-and-a-half weeks later, I arrived for a fitting. Put the first pair on and all of my peripheral visions was blurred and impaired. I had tunnel vision! Stunned, I brought this to the customer service rep’s attention.

She said, “Just look straight ahead, don’t look to the sides. You’ll get used to it.”

Aghast, I said, “You mean it won’t clear up. I’ll only be able to see straight ahead, nothing going on around me, to the left or right?”

“You’ll get used to it,” she said.

“If that’s the case,” I said, “send them back. I like looking forward, but I want to know what’s going on, on the Left and the Right. Besides, Progressives cost too much.”