IT was a warm and sunny afternoon. I sat behind my desk, taking a long draw on a freshly-filled electronic cigarette. There wasn’t much going on today – hardly a customer all week, come to think of it. I was a loner, an independent. I played by my own rules, and sometimes that kept clients away. I looked up as the door chime jingled – and there she was…
Out of all the optical joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine. Those red lips were the first thing I noticed about her. Really stood out against my drab office décor. The next thing I noticed were her eyes, they….well…they were hard to see, really. Her lenses were still dark from the sun outside, so I couldn’t really tell what color her eyes were.
She stumbled a bit, her eyes trying to adjust to the din of the office. She shuffled forward, shifting her glasses down her nose to peer at me from across the room. “I suppose you know why I’m here,” she said, taking a few long, slow steps towards my desk.
Sure, I knew. She wasn’t the first one to come here. I’ve had more and more clients unhappy with how slow their photochromic lenses are. Sure, they may seem great outside, but as soon as you go inside? Forget about it. Nothing. Darkness for what seems like forever. By the time they get light again, you’re just about ready to head back outside anyway. I nodded to the chair in front of me, “Have a seat.”
She had given up on the still-darkened lenses at this point, tossing them lightly on my desk as she sat across from me. They were a steel blue, by the way. Her eyes, that is. If you were still wondering. “You know, they said I should have come to you first,” she sighed, looking down at the discarded glasses on the desk, then back at me, “seems like they were right.” I leaned back slightly in my chair and cracked a small smile, “Tell me what happened, from the beginning.”
“I wanted to get lenses that go from light to dark – how hard should that be? I figured I’d get a better deal if I went to one of the big guys. They’re everywhere, you know?”. Yeah, I knew, but I wasn’t about to stop her. It almost sounded like a combination of a confession and an apology, without really being either. “So I went….I went down to see Big T,” she continued, sounding like she just admitted to kicking a kitten.
Now, I knew Big T. Biggest player in the game – he had his product everywhere. People used it and came back for more. Poor people just don’t know any better. They don’t want to know. They just buy what they’re told, and behave like good little boys and girls. There’s plenty of other players in the photochromic market, but nobody’s got the muscle that Big T has. Problem up until recently was that there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between what Big T was pushing and what everyone else had. Some of their colors were a little different, sure. Some were blue-gray, some were brown-gray, and a few end up in between. Other than that, they mostly work the same. You go outside, they get dark. Go inside, they get lighter. Eventually. Not really anything new here. Not until now, that is. What I’ve got is going to knock her socks off, but I have to let her get there on her own first.
She continued, “So I got these glasses and…,”she looked down at the pair on the table, and gestured to them dismissively, “they just stay dark for so long. I come back inside, and I can’t see. What’s the point? How are these even useful? And for what they cost?” She seemed like she was starting to get worked up, so I pulled a bottle from my bottom desk drawer. I poured into a couple of glasses and offered her one, she took it and sipped the water delicately. “I’m sorry about that. Thank you,” she said, taking a deep breath to compose herself. “Don’t you have anything that can help me? I just want something that is going to work the way that I want it to work. Something that’s going to actually be useful, and not just make things more difficult all the time.”
I flicked some imaginary ash off the end of my e-cigarette, then tossed it in my desk drawer. I pulled out a pamphlet and tossed it on the table. She looked down at it, then back up at me. “What’s nuanceRT™?”, she asked, picking the pamphlet up off the desk. I leaned forward in my chair to rest my elbows on the desk. I’d been waiting to say this since she came in, and now it was time. “It’s just about the best damn thing since sliced bread, sweetheart.” She looked up from the brochure, somewhat incredulously. I continued before she could get a word in. “Imagine this – something that gets lighter in half the time, or even faster. Would that be better for you? You can still get the darkness outside you want, but a hell of a lot better performance getting clear again. Why, if you had them now, you’d be able to see without tossing those on the desk,” I nodded towards the pair of frames that were still sitting on my desk, their lenses nowhere near clear enough yet.
“Come on darling, do you really expect me to believe this flimflam?” she scoffed, tossing the brochure back down on the table. “If it was really that good, how come Big T don’t have it?”, she crossed her arms and sat back, giving me one of those grins. You know the kind – filled with self-satisfaction and smugness. I’m going to enjoy watching that melt away.
“Well honey,” I tossed a lens across the desk, “you can try it for yourself if you don’t believe me. But let me ask you this: Why would Big T need this? He’s got plenty of people eating out of his hand already. He can just come out with something a little different every few years, and everyone is happy. Especially Big T, since he gets to use it as an excuse to jack up prices.” She looked at the lens in front of her, unsure of what to do with it. “Go take it outside, then come back in. I can wait.” I leaned back in my chair, raising my arms to rest my hands behind my head. She paused a moment, then walked outside with the lens, her glasses still sitting on the corner of my desk.
“Okay, it’s dark, so what?” she tossed the now-darkened lens back on to my desk. “About as dark as you’re used to?” I asked, trying to sound like I didn’t already know the answer. “Well, yes, but…” she began, but I didn’t let her finish. “So it’s just about as dark as what you get from Big T. Great. And how’s it look now?” I gestured down towards the lens on the desk. It took her a moment, but she did a double take between that lens and the frame she had tossed down minutes earlier. “It’s just about as light as what I got from Big T…but…that one from Big T has been in here a lot longer. This other one…this nuanceRT™ lens…it’s only been inside less than a minute and I can already see it’s changed a lot.”
It’s really rewarding when the shoe drops. When they finally get it. Then I just get to bask there in that glorious feeling of helping someone realize how things actually are in the world. Just because the big guy on the block is fat and happy taking your money doesn’t mean he’s going to be giving you the best products. I’ll admit, having them say they were wrong feels pretty good, too, but I usually don’t bring that part up. She seemed a little bewildered. “So, they have to be really expensive, right?” She almost sounded hopeful. Her expression change as I shook my head. “I want a pair of these, in that case,” she said, picking the now-clear lens up off the table and handing it to me.
Now, this is the part of the job that I love the most. Not the getting paid part – though, that part is pretty good – but the helping people out part. She came in with a problem, and I fixed it. Not only that, I gave her a reason to come back. Hopefully a reason to get other people in here, too. As she turned to walk out of the office, she paused and turned back towards me. She took a step towards me and picked up her original pair of glasses. “Look at that,” she said, holding them up, “they’re finally clear.”
— Dan Dade, Private Optician
Is it time to see what Big-T won’t let you?
Stand-up to Big-T.
Don’t wait for change
For more information, please visit nuanceRT.com