Friday, December 21

Poverty With A View-Mission Impossible and it should not be so difficult


Steens Mountain At Sunrise from Mike Putnam Photography


Welcome to Poverty With A View

Commentary, opinions pulled from the local daily fish wrapper, other sources from around the Pacific Northwest and beyond. With additional commentary from yours truly, the one who has the affliction known hereabouts as 'permagrump', PatriotUSA. 

Call this an opinion from the RIGHT side of the Cascades. 

Where great jobs are scarce but taxes and government overreach, are high. 


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I am back and have my spectacles back. Nothing is ever simple here and customer service is truly dead. It is so dead I need to share this with you all. Or you can ignore me and this post but do you really have anything better to do? If so, please do not tell me as I might get all hurt, distraught and throw myself in front of the next freight train. I would choose a passenger train but they do run here and I am not driving to Chemult to throw myself in front of the Coast Starlight. Who would bring back my car?  AJ cannot drive yet or maybe he takes the care when I am asleep.

So, as I mentioned my spectacle frame randomly broke early this past Sunday morning at 2:00 A.M.
The frame is titanium and is three or four years old. Good Italian quality frame, and I DO KNOW FRAMES! Only Italy or German made for me. My frames have been discontinued for years.

No rhyme or reason, the  right eye wire just broke when I was enjoying a bit of a rest in front of our evil smoke emitting, particulate producing wood stove. After 13 years in Optics I knew this was a possibly fatal break, pulled out my very old specs and was immediately hit with a really bad case of permagrump. Not being able to see or read does that to me. As if it takes much to set me off but let me keep to the story here. Titanium can be soldered but it is a fickle thing and that was my last resort. It should have been my first.


Keep in mind that we live in the hinterlands of Central Oregon, the high desert, in the rain shadow of the Cascades. It is fairly remote and what you city folk take for granted can be a major mission that often ends in compromise of failure. The simplest of tasks can become so irritating, one has to take things with a huge grain of salt. In this case with whiskey and beer, so one does not go totally postal or have your family commit you and treated with Thorazine, Stelazine, or both. The nearest 'big' city or berg is Bend and I am just not cool enough, a 'hipster', nor am I not politically correct, diversified or multicultural enough to enter the foul, far leftarded berg of Bend. So I rarely go there and if I had for this mission, it would not have changed a thing and would have cost me more.

Let me set the stage here.

I mentioned 12 years in Optics. It is actually 13 years. I was doctor's Optician and a damn fine one, thank you very much. I had a huge following and patients (note the word patients here, not clients or customers!) would often wait for over an hour for me to adjust repair or dispense their glasses. Most of my years as an Optician were spent one block away from one of the largest university's in Oregon. It did not matter I was and always will be an Oregon State University fan. The college kids loved me, the senior citizens loved me, the veterans loved, the hippies and queers loved me me and I was that damn good. I was trained by one of the finest Opticians who ever walked this earth and he became my best friend. Sadly, Orville Jostad passed away in 2005 and my life has never been the same. This was OLD SCHOOL Opticianry at it's best, no corners cut, every RX we dispensed had to meet OUR standards which were much tougher than state or national industry standards. We put old lenses into new frames every day, hand edged the lenses to fit, and the type of lenses seldom stopped us. With an inventory of over 3500 frames from three locations, we seldom were stumped. We drove the lab rats crazy and often times just did the work ourselves. I also worked for one of the best independent optical labs in the entire country, Deschutes Optical located in Bend and Boise. The owner John Granby, made glasses for Elton John by hand and was flown to New York to deliver them right before a concert. Made several pairs for him. Our remakes were never over 4% and typically ran at 2%, unheard of back then and now days, you will never hear of this. John was diagnosed in 2008 with ALS and was forced to sell the company to Essilor which later closed down the Bend lab. Too expensive to run a small, super high quality lab in a remote region like Bend. It was consolidated with the Boise lab which is still in operation today. So I know how to fit, measure, dispense, and make glasses. Not all lab operations but enough. I knew options were limited here but this was a bad and how times have changed. Yes, I was very spoiled and got used to the best in eyewear and eye exams. I am one picky guy about almost everything. I drive my family crazy but I have made it a point to not be so AR with them.

Still awake?

So Monday morning I take off to look for a new frame here in town. Nothing is simple here, just remember this and read on. Humor me, please!?! No practice names or names of individuals will be mentioned as this is just too small a region and I still have some class, morals and ethics.

First stop was 'Dysfunctional Vision Center' and the reasons will be crystal clear in a bit. I worked for this practice for three days back in 2005 and it was so weird I never went back to get my wages. The owner and doctor yelling at each other in front of patients. The doctor trading guns in the parking lot with people who look like mafia types. I like guns a lot but that was very strange and we had to stay inside while he conducted 'business.'  Trying to find a lab that would take our orders because the practice owed every lab in the Northwest money. Three days was too much for me. At least they try to give good patient services but it was even weirder than 2005. As I was looking at frames, the owner's dog came out, raised his leg and pissed right by the receptionist. I do not think the dog liked her or maybe he did? Why was the dog inside the practice, one that is related to the medical field? The receptionist came unglued, the owner came out from the lab, dropped my lenses and almost stepped on them. They were yelling at each other and papers went flying off the counter. The doctor came roaring out of the exam room, enraged that another spat had broken out when he was with a patient. Mind you, there were four of us in there doing business. Three bailed out ASAP and that left lucky me. A frame salesman stopped in to see why his company had not been paid for the past five months, all in the space of about 10 minutes and was really mad, threatening to pull his inventory out of the practice. The owner cut him a check on the spot but I have my suspicions whether it was good or not. I thanked the owner and walked out the door and he followed into the parking lot, begging me come back in. No thanks, I told him as there was not a frame that would work and I had enough dysfunction in my own life, thank you very much. At least he tried and carries good quality frames for the most part. As I was leaving a disgruntled patient was storming in upset about what their insurance had not paid. Vision insurance? What the hell is that and I am sure the 47% will have that covered under Obamacare. Being very knowledgeable and educated in Optics is both a a blessing and a curse and this guy did not like that in some ways. He was not all right with me in 2005 and the same went this time. Not my problem and on to stop #2. There are only four choices here in town and I refuse to go to Walmart's Optical department and the other practice rips patients off and I know the labs they send their RX's to and nope, not even going to go there. Maybe kill me now is a better option? One hour optical operations? Forget them and even we had one in town I would rather go to Mexico for specs.


Second stop I had never been to before but several co-workers loved the practice. I knew the doctor from when I worked at the lab in Bend so how bad could it be? Where Dysfunctional Vision Center was blatantly weird, this practice was overflowing with female hormones and ladies, I mean no disrespect with that last statement but there has to male/female balance in the work place. For the sake of simplicity let's call this practice 'Bootytown Optical'. When I walked in I was immediately sized up, rated and I was greeted by four frowns, two at the reception desk and two other 'opticians' who were doing nothing to help the two patients in the 'designer frame' section. I was dressed in new jeans, new pocket t-shirt, nice looking coat. The 'ladies' were dressed to the nines, skirts way too short and tops way too low cut for a practice to to pass itself off as 'high end ' in Central Oregon. First question was "what do YOU want", not can we help you or anything like that. I already had a burn from Dysfunctional Vision Center and I left my best behavior in my car. I retorted "a beer and a ceegar" and followed that up with "Just looking at frames that might work for my lenses as this is an Optical practice or did I miss the red light hanging outside." Do you have an appointment as we are terribly busy! I need an appointment to look at frames and no you are not busy. The two patients in there were elderly and been trying to get the staff's attention for some assistance. "You need an appointment to do anything here." I know some practices make appointments for dispensing eyewear
and other Optical needs but just looking at frames? It is called foot traffic. This was going sideways fast. One of the 'opticians' asked to see my lenses and her nails were so long I declined to give them to her. I have Zeiss Gold anti-reflective coating and no long nailed tartly dressed snag was going to handle my lenses. Of course she was insulted, got her panties in deep wad and stormed off. The second 'optician' told me "we DO NOT ever put old or existing lenses into a new frame." Why, I asked and added are you THAT incompetent or is it just greed? No, our policy is you must have a new frame and new lenses and if you do not a current RX then you must have a new exam. I asked her if she or the good doctor was going to pay for all of that? You do not have any vision insurance and they cast a glance at each other and giggled. The one 'lady' who I had pissed off came back and stated this: "we do not have any customers who do not have vision insurance." So there it was, amazing but not surprising at all. I mentioned I had CASH but decided to leave right then and there.
On the way out I went over to the elderly couple who still had not been assisted and pulled down 10 or 12 frames and said, try these and they come in various sizes and colors, pay attention to the fit on the bridge of your nose. Just out of curiosity I pulled into the lot one building over and watched through binoculars. The two 'opticians' had hurried over to the elderly couple but they had picked out two of the frames I had set down for them. The staff argued with them until the doctor brought a patient out from an exam and they actually had to work.

Stop #3 was the Jeweler's who has a tig soldering machine and could do Titanium frames. Last resort should have been the first but my frames are pretty beat up and thought I could find a new frame. Silly, dumb me I suppose. The jeweler had a nasty time with my frames but got them back together
Not sure how long this repair will hold but will baby my spectacles. Not sure where I will go when I get my eye exam and new specs but it have to be in, ack, cough, choke, Bend. The repair was less expensive than a new frame but it is a repair and soldered frames are never as strong as the factory welds. It was still $80.00 but he had them done the next morning and pleased to see some cash.

Poverty with a view and life is actually pretty darn good. Dysfunctional but it could be a lot worse.



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