A or B or A or C or B or A

a pair of eyeglasses with thick plastic frames, sitting with arms folded on a weathered wooden table.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Pexels.com

Eleventy thousand months ago, in the spring of 2020, I should have gone to the eye doctor. Earlier, probably, based on the cheerful emails I got from the eye doctor’s communications team reminding me about good eye health and using my benefits before the end of the (2019) year. But I didn’t, and then I didn’t want to have anyone’s (potentially) contagion-carrying breath that close to my face. And then you just couldn’t go. Then you could then you couldn’t then you could. And then everyone was trying to go who didn’t in the hokey-pokey Dance of Doing Things (or not) that took up the last 2 years.

But I got to the point where I was doing that old-person-squinting-at-bottles, stretching my mouth in a big O to try to open my eyes in such a way that I can read what’s on the ingredients list on something at the grocery store. Or the print in the book I’m reading. My glasses were all scratched to hell, so they certainly needed to be replaced.

But I don’t love going. I don’t love the “which is better… A… or B… or A…or B. And B… or C… or B… or C…. And C… or A… or C… or A…. Or C… I never feel like I have a good chance to actually focus and look around with A or B or C, and in the 7 nanosecond chance I have to look at the chart across the room, I always hope I’ve made a good choice, but when I get home, my vision isn’t as crisp as I’d like. Is it because I don’t really get a chance to try on A or B or C lens choices? I get that you should immediately have a feeling for what is “better”. So why do I always end up on my couch, disappointed with my not-quite-better vision. Alas, my eyeballs betray me.

I did go, a few months ago, to a new-to-me optometrist in my neighbourhood, so I also didn’t have to do the Dance of the Daytimers for a time when my gentleman associate could chaperone me, just in case I had to get The Drops. From the new clinic, new prescription tucked safely into my pocket, I just shuffle-walked home, eyes still blurry and yellow-tinted.

I held onto the prescription until I could stand it no longer. Trying to find a purveyor of spectacles that aren’t chislers or swindlers is a full time job. The loathing I feel about buying new glasses rates somewhere between “New Bathing Suit shopping” and “Inhaling lime juice directly into your lungs”.

And a certain franchise that may or may not rhyme with Makim Optical shot to the number one spot on my shitlist in the time shortly after I bought my last pair of glasses, so not only did I have to do the loathesome task of buying new glasses, but I had to shop it around. Except that I didn’t have the strength of spirit to shop it around, because I was going to be full throttle skeptical about anything the sales-swindler had to say, no matter what storefront I was standing in.

And I was full throttle skeptical, but even my bad attitude wasn’t enough. Little Miss Useless-At-Her-Job made assumptions about my needs and just ordered me lenses that were not what I needed. And, had the audacity to tell me that she’d appreciate it if I would give her a 10 out of 10 review because she had to go back for training if she got 8 or less. Um, I dunno, maybe suck less, then?

Fortunately, when I went back, and there was another sales rep who explained everything to me, asked me what I do, how my desk is set up, what else I do besides sit at the desk. And now I feel much better with my more-correct-for-my-purposes lenses.

The next day I got a ‘How was your [franchise that may or may not rhyme with Friends-laughter’s] experience” email.  Well, a “get-yo’-ass-to-training” 1.5 with Terrible–at-her-job associate, and solid 8.5 for Cleaning-up-the-Mess associate, for an unfortunate average of 5.

*sad trombone*

I’ve been reading up about decision making lately – how to make good decisions and avoid decision fatigue and mitigate when you have to choose the best of the turds. This felt relevant as I was deciding which optical franchise to choose. 

There are a few things in my not-at-all-scientific research that didn’t really occur to me until they were pointed out in black and white. Like it’s harder to make a choice between two things than between a bevy of options. It’s way better if you can choose-a-card-any-card than if you paint yourself into a corner, and especially if you have only two, mostly-equally unsatisfying options to select (see: Turds, above).

Which, really, looks a whole lot like A or B or C at the optometrist.  And the thing is, the A or B or C premise is sound. List all the options you have in your decision matrix (yeah, I’m that kind of nerd), and then make them go head to head to decide which is the better, A or B. Then the winner of that goes against C, and the winner of that against D until you have a good choice. This is the premise of those works of literary genius – the Choose Your Own Adventure stories.  Right up until you were the kid with your fingers stuck in the pages so that you could go back when you met an unfortunate demise 4 decisions in.

Still, the decision paralysis is real, and the What If game is fierce.

Whether it’s standing in front of the giant wall of cereal or paint chips or seasonally-coloured undergarments, eyeglass frames. And whether you’re looking at a pile of schools or jobs to apply to, or deciding whether it’s worth making an offer on a house, it feels sometimes like too much.

The surprisingly simple solution to a big portion of my decision exhaustion problems came as a result of the TeamSwearyParent’s take-out habits during the Covid Lockdown. Child was sent home from his university, as most kids going to out-of-town schools were. Once or twice a week, we got takeout from a local restaurant. But as 4 weeks turned into 4 months turned into 8 months turned into 18 months, we didn’t want to cook, but we also didn’t want to decide. So Child had a plan: He picked 3 restaurants, then my gentleman associate vetoed one, and I picked from the remaining two. We switched up who picked the three and who narrowed it down from week to week, but it worked really well for our purposes.

I’ve been thinking about how to use that method in other parts of my life when the universe dropped a Healthy Habit tip on my lap: Pick three habits that you want/need to adopt. Turf the least appealing one, and from the remaining two, choose the one that’s easiest to achieve – that gives you some confidence, and then you feel good about your ability to make good decisions once you’ve achieved it. I’ve also used it in a frivolous way at manicure appointments – I pick out three nail designs (thanks Pinterest!), and either the tech or I pick two, and the other one of us picks the design for that appointment.

Today I was talking to a writer that I mentor, and we were talking about how to know where to start on a big multi-faceted project. I thought about the methods I use – the 3-2-1 decision whittler, the weighted decision matrix, the eeny-meeny-miny-mo decision tetrameter. We talked about what tools she might be able to use in her own decision toolbox. I’ve been thinking about how one develops that toolbox, and a big part of that comes from the hundreds of decisions that we make every day that give us the confidence to take the next leap.

I heard a piece on a science show a while back about the Pumpkin Toadlet, which is a tiny little toadlet that while it can leap like a champ, it simply cannot stick the landing. Like, ever. This teenytiny little critter lacks the inner ear structure to not land on its face or bounce cartoon-style; yet, it continues to take the leap. And that’s where my September inspiration comes from – I’m going to try harder to trust myself to make decisions. Maybe I land on my feet, maybe I land on my face.

Here’s to flinging our selves forward, friends.

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