NaBloPoMo Day 18: The Eyes Don't Have It

I came across a suggestion somewhere on social media - I don't remember exactly where - that in the upcoming year everyone consider volunteering 1-2 hours monthly to a cause they care about. It's only .0027% of the year! Everyone can donate that much time, right? 

I mean, it sounds like a brilliant idea, but is it realistic? Are most organizations going to be happy with people saying they'd like to volunteer one hour every thirty days? Is that going to be useful or efficient or helpful? It annoyed me because it seemed like - not toxic positivity, exactly, but all chipper and chirpy about something that sounds good on the surface but not so much if you think about it for any length of time. I already work much less than full-time, and that's awkward in itself - many people seem to find it kind of weird, and assume I would take full-time work if I could get it. So many volunteer organizations are desperate for help - how easy would it be to do a couple hours and then either not be asked to do more or, if asked, to refuse? 

I went to the eye doctor a couple of weeks ago (my eye doctor is really cute - this is not relevant to the plot, but I feel like it bears mentioning anyway). A few months ago I started having a harder time reading paper books with my glasses on, which was irksome because I do the majority of my book reading at night after I've taken my contacts out. In bed I could only read an actual book if I focused my reading lamp right on the page at the highest brightness, which wasn't super fun for my husband who was trying to sleep beside me. 

The last time I went to the (really cute) eye doctor I had told him that I used my older, weaker-prescription glasses to read and my newer stronger ones for walking around in the world looking at further-away stuff. He said "that's great if that works for you, you might never need bifocals". When this system started failing me I was like "shit, I need bifocals". But I didn't want bifocals. I couldn't picture myself reading for three hours at a time focused downwards through the bottom half of my lenses. I got pretty panicky about this, and kind of blurted as much out in the first thirty seconds of my appointment. 

Quite predictably, my eye doctor (cutely) reassured me that he was not about to strap me down and forcibly affix bifocals to my face. He actually recommended a dedicated pair of reading glasses, which will be fantastic for reading and extremely perilous for anything else. 

This was a massive relief, although I'm not filling the prescription right away, because just before I went to the eye doctor (have I mentioned he's really cute?) I was reading in my chair, looked speculatively at the reading glasses sitting on the table beside me, picked them up and tried slipping them on over my regular glasses, and cue the halleluia chorus - so clear! so easy! I look like a massive dork, but who cares?! I'm more embarrassed that I didn't think of it sooner than anything else.

Of all the signs of aging, I think this one bothers me the most, even though it doesn't hurt. My husband caved to the need for reading glasses before I did, and I found it kind of annoying how he had to whip them out for every little thing I tried to show him on my phone or whatever. I got by by holding things further away or just reading through the blur (which probably came easier to me because my eyes have always been crap and I walked around without glasses when I desperately needed them for years). Then I gave up too and it's sobering to realize that without this stupid little construction of plastic and wire I am ill-equipped to parse the world of words around me. Which is dumb, because I've been at the mercy of vision correcting devices since I was seven, and it's a massive privilege that I've always been able to access them.

In summation.... um, the world will not be saved by facile proposals, aging is hard (but better than the alternative), and my eye doctor is really cute? 


Comments

StephLove said…
I've had prescription reading glasses for almost a decade now. At the appointment when I got the Rx, my (not particularly cute) eye doctor told me I "wasn't 18 any more."
Nicole said…
I have reading glasses too! Unfortunately everything other than the page I'm reading is a blur so if anyone talks to me I have to either look over them, contributing even more to my forehead wrinkles, or take them off. Or look at the blurry person.

Okay. So. The volunteer thing. Imagine you're a volunteer coordinator and you need like 20 hours a week of volunteers. So, that's like 80+ hours a month. And then you have each volunteer doing one to two hours a month. You would need forty to eighty volunteers. THIS IS A LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE, DO NOT DO THIS. Sure, some people would volunteer more than one or two hours a month but still. And how would you not forget your ONE DAY A MONTH. This could totally happen. Like, at least do a couple hours every other Thursday or something. Whoa, I am getting worked up here. But imagine the coordination required!
Ernie said…
I agree the idea of everyone volunteering the bare minimum would create a lot of difficulties. Nicole makes a good point that so many would forget their rare commitment.

I switched to two different contact lenses last spring and I no longer need readers. It is glorious. I do wish my eye doc who recommended them was cute, but alas . . . I have lost some sharpness in distance which irritates me a bit but not nearly as much as constantly needing readers.

I think my thinning hair is my most disliked sign of aging- even though it is more a sign of years of undiagnosed celiac disease that cannot be undone.
Ally Bean said…
I got bifocals in my 30s. They're brilliant and I cannot imagine life without them, especially when it comes to computer screens. I used to volunteer doing community things, but at that time a weekly commitment was the done thing. One thing I learned about non-profits is that they prefer cold hard cash to actual people wanting to help. That could have changed by now, of course... but just saying
Tudor said…
I think the volunteer thing would have to be really specific - like when I ran the pizza program at my kids' school, I needed parent volunteers once a week for two hours at lunch time, so in theory, a person could have taken one shift a month. I think what I'm saying is this kind of volunteering would really only work for "warm body" volunteering. In other words low-skill jobs where you can train somebody once and they'll never forget (hand each kid a piece of paper towel, pizza is $2.50 a slice) and they can just be a warm body for you. Or, completely other end of the spectrum - long-term project kind of volunteering you can do at home, with no guidance, like research or writing, where you can provide your two-hours worth of product once a month. I also used to sew flannel blankets for preemies at Sick Kids - you could do two hours' worth of that. OK, now it seems like I'm finding lots of two-hour-a-month volunteer gigs for everybody!

My eye doctor is relatively handsome. He's also my age. Unfortunately you can't always negotiate this, but if you can choose medical practitioners who are your age and will age with you, it's very handy as they experience problems at the same time as you. My family doctor is sweet and also very stylish and cute, but much younger than me and I don't love discussing menopause with him. However, in the grand scheme of world problems, I'll take that one!
Anonymous said…
I haven't done a lot of volunteering, but the organizations I've volunteered with usually had a minimum time commitment. There's usually a lot of getting up to speed if you're actually doing something useful, plus they want to be able to rely on you to have enough time to accomplish something. And some types of organization, they have mandatory training for volunteers before they can even start. With good reason.

About the shortest volunteer opportunity I've even come close to was an annual day of service run by my husband's company. That was a 6-hour commitment on 1 day a year and people were mostly providing hands/muscle. So if you averaged it out across the year, it would be less than what they outlined, I guess.

I just started wearing prescription reading glasses a few months ago. Very needed, but the back and forth is a bit of a nuisance.

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