To Jérémy the Optician

Dear Jérémy,

Thank you for not acting weird when I started crying seated across the table from you at the optometrist’s the other afternoon.


I was flustered.

Right from the get-go I found the process disorientating. The locked door, the buzzing in, the temperature check, the fresh medical-grade mask I was required to swap for my existing medical-grade mask, the plastic tub in which I had to carry my backpack. (Why did I have to put my backpack in a tub?) All of this before I even started the eye exam. It reminded me a bit of going through airport security, my least favorite part of traveling.

The eye exam itself was routine enough, I guess. I don’t remember what’s usually all involved but I found the mask uncomfortable, and the screen on the squiggly line test machine kept fogging-up and I started to get anxious about not pressing the button at the right time because the fogging made it hard to see.

The optometrist was a different doctor than last time and although her communication with me in English was light years better than my communication with her in French, it was still a little rough. I’m frustrated by my slow progress with French and was still feeling a little battered from the previous evening’s intake assessment for my upcoming French course, where I was tongue-tied and forgot how to answer simple questions en français. I was already feeling insecurity and shame around my second language inabilities.

Then, when I found out that my current glasses, ordered 3 years ago from an online store after my last eye exam in this office, were not the correct prescription, I was embarrassed and ashamed. So I was feeling “stupid” about not understanding French very well, still after all these years, and having the wrong prescription (not my fault but somehow it felt like my fault since I ordered online).

When we sat down at the plexi-glass divided table and you started explaining the costs of the lenses, and I said the pricing felt manipulative (it wasn’t the best word in the moment, convoluted is what I meant) and you kindly asked me why I felt that way, and then I burst into tears when I tried to speak, the way you handled all that was truly compassionate. Thank you.

Thank you for taking all the time in the world to thoroughly explain all my options for lenses. And to explain what it means when a lens blocks blue light and how blue light isn’t going to give me cancer, at least studies haven’t shown that yet. Cancer from blue light is one of the few things that doesn't cause me anxiety, but thank you for your reassurances nonetheless. I'm sorry to say, I don't remember your explanation about blue light because I was feeling pretty emotional, which blocked my ability to retain much of what you said.

I was feeling confused, disorientated, and embarrassed. By a trip to the optometrist.

I’m sorry for the tears that continued to pool and quiver on the lip of my bottom eyelid for the remainder of my visit. Every kindness you showed me - bringing the tissues; trying to make me feel better that my current glasses with the wrong prescription at least had some blue light protection (yay! so something was correct on the order); explaining the differing quality of progressives; coaching me how to price compare with other stores by evaluating the low, middle, and high costs and not necessarily the lens’ brands (since stores might have different brands); the time you took - all of that just made me want to cry more.

cool image of my right retina, thankfully healthy

Sometimes life is just overwhelming, even with the privilege of health insurance to cover some of the cost it’s daunting to find the best path through the maze of options. Who can you trust? I have a hard enough time with this on good days.

Thank you for not making me feel stupid (I felt stupid enough already) or bat-shit crazy (same) as we sat masked, divided by plastic. Your kindness made it harder to hold it all together.

Maybe you studied psychology before getting your Optician license. Maybe you’re just an emotionally-aware, kind, human being. For sure the latter. Regardless, you handled it very well. Thank you.

You just never know when the next pandemic-weary, perimenopausal, French-language challenged woman currently experiencing PMS is going to buzz through those immacuately clean glass office doors. But I know you’ll be ready.

And I’ll make sure to ask for you the next time I come in.



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