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A Parable?

My driver's license expires November 23 (my birthday). I do not look forward to renewing it, just like I do not look forward to any test or examination where I can fail and lose something I value. In early October, I begin to wonder when I am going to get a renewal application in the mail. I phone the Department of Motor Vehicles at 8AM one weekday morning, and the person tells me that I should have received a renewal in the mail already, and that I should go to a DMV office to renew my license. The person tells me their offices open at 8:30AM. I am now more anxious but feel I need to deal with the situation, so I leave my desk at work and proceed to walk to the DMV office (fortunately there is one in walking distance from my office, since I am sufficiently anxious that I would not want to drive there...).

I arrive before 8:30 and they are already processing people. I take a number and await my turn, occupying the somewhat anxious time speculating that there is no way I can guess which of the 8 or 10 clerks will process me. After maybe 15 minutes, my number comes up and I go to the window over which my number is displayed ("B16"?). I am wearing my glasses. The clerk asks me if I want to take the vision test with my glasses, or without them, in which case, if I pass, she explains that the "must wear glasses" restriction will be removed from my license. Pretending to be nonchalant, I respond: "If it doesn't cost anything, why not?" It so happens that the eye chart is about 6 feet from my eyes -- exactly the distance at which my presbyopic eyes focus best. I can see the eye chart clearly (like I could see everything when I was 20 years old...). I feel I could read the printing imperfections in the letters on the chart. I get my license renewed with the eyeglasses restriction removed. My eyesight is not really bad, but I do see less clearly both closer, and especially, farther away than the chart.

Having passed the vision test and renewed my license without a vision restriction, I reflected on how one gets one's driver's license based on ability to see what is largely irrelevant to safe driving rather than what is relevant: About the only things that would be at 6 feet distance while driving would be things one was about to hit. It was probably over 15 years since I had seen anything crisply clearly -- except for that DMV eye chart.

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Copyright © 2002,2003 Brad McCormick, Ed.D.
bradmcc@cloud9.net [ Email me! ]
20 February 2006 (2006-02-20 ISO 8601)
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Example of my poor self-esteem:  I go to the optometrist to get new glasses (he says I definitely need glasses for driving, because my distance vision in my left eye is so bad without correction that I do not use my left eye at all when driving and therefore I would not notice anything approaching from my left; he also says I have mild diplopia). I order a pair of inexpensive frames. The frames arrive and I go to pick up my glasses. The glasses seem to fit fine after the optician makes some minor adjustments. On my way out the optometrist's office door, I take my new glasses off and put them back on -- and I am surprised in putting them back on, that they scratch my face. I look and see that the tip of the right earpiece is slightly blunted so that it really is sharp.
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Poor self-esteem #1:  I wonder if I should just live with this. I almost resign myself to living with glasses that will scratch my face if I'm not careful every time I put them on. But I get up the gumption to go back and show the problem to the optician. I assume he will just file the sharp edge down. The optician looks at my glasses, and goes to his work room and does file down the sharp edge. He then comes back with my glasses and tells me he will order a new frame but that I can wear the defective frame until the replacement arrives.
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Poor self-esteem #2:  I am, of course, pleased that the problem will be fixed. But I also think to myself: I bought inexpensive frames. Do I deserve to have them replaced for this minor defect that the optician pretty much fixed by filing the sharp place down? Then I think to myself that even though I bought inexpensive frames, I did go to an expensive optometrist and I paid a good price for my eye exam + glasses, and that they were doing the right thing, and that I shouldn't have such low self-esteem as to feel I didn't deserve such good treatment, i.e., treatment which a person should just naturally expect.
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