I was in 7th grade when I noticed I couldn’t read the formula Mr. Bean wrote on the board. I sat in the second row, so I assumed I must have allergies or something affecting my vision. It was the geology unit of our curriculum, and my favorite topic covered in 7th grade.
In case you were wondering, Mr. Bean called me “Rock Hound” because, well... I loved identifying rocks. I was the only kid in class digging through my front yard planters. I would search for prized granite amongst the crushed limestone plant covering. One day I found a piece of slate. Yes, slate. Not its Sedimentary parent, shale. A Rock Hound knows the difference. Because of Mr. Bean’s love for all things Metamorphic, I knew this was no weak and porous imposter. Confident in my identification skills, I shoved it into my pocket to bring to class the next day. The Rock Hound had struck again! My educators and cohorts were both in for a rare treat. This pre-phyllite treasure must have landed in my yard by way of an adventurer quarryman from 1850s Wales. I was certain.
I walked into 6th period that next day and glanced at the board as I sat down. (Weird! I still couldn't read it! Stupid allergies.) No matter. The rare stone in my pocket was about to blow the minds of my classmates. This was no Igneous day. It was Metamorphic week. It was Mr. Bean’s Super Bowl and little did he know, this year I came to play. As roll call rang out and the Rock Hound proclaimed his presence, the sense of greatness in the air was palpable. I’m positive the entire room could feel my confidence.
Mr. Bean asked us to open our books to the Metamorphic section to begin the day’s lesson. It was evident to all that he lived for this week of the school year. I raised my hand to hear my name called. “Rock Hound, do you have a question?” “No, sir. I don’t have a question. I would like to show the class the rare slate I found yesterday. My evaluation of it leads me to believe it arrived here many years ago from a quarry in Wales.” Much to my dismay he replied, “Josh! Can you read the board!?” I said, “Ummmmm, no? My allergies are acting up?”
The board I could not read spelled out instructions for this week. The words rang through the halls as Mr. Bean read them aloud to me (and everyone else within a mile radius): “DO NOT BRING EXAMPLES TO CLASS.”
“Josh (dang, he used my actual name again), you either need to pay attention or get glasses.” I sat there stunned. I was crushed, slate still pocketed.
This was the first day I realized I needed glasses. It was a painful way to find out. If you have good vision, it’s a stretch to imagine the issues it creates to not see well. Having a compromised sense can lead to inconvenience, but sometimes it can lead to embarrassment. Something as simple and routine as reading is taken for granted by most people who see well. For those of us with vision challenges, it can leave life-altering marks on our confidence. I wore glasses for 20 years after Metamorphic week. I never wanted to feel embarrassment like that again. It’s a funny story to some people, but to me it’s a vivid moment I still remember some 30 years later.
Laser vision correction is not a matter of convenience for most people who need it. It’s a new lease on life. It allows unlimited experience without a dependence on glasses or contacts. It’s a gift of freedom. It’s equal to losing dependence on crutches to walk or undergoing a procedure to allow the use of a crippled hand. It changes a life story. It assures you will never have a piece of slate in your pocket when you shouldn’t.
As I left class that day Mr. Bean stopped me to say, “Hey, at least let me have a look at that rock.” Still thinking about my vision and my embarrassing last hour, I sheepishly handed it to him. “Well, you got one thing right, Rock Hound,” he said. That’s for sure slate... slate from a roof tile.”
That settled it. I got LASIK.