Sunday, September 18, 2011

I have never lost a pair of sunglasses

Brett Arends of Wall Street Journal online says Luxottica makes most of the designer sunglasses so they really are all the same, except for the fashion statement you choose to make based on the designer brand. He says it's a waste of money.

If you make your shades last for many years, that would be one thing. But who does that? The people who want designer items want the latest fashion each year. And then there are the pairs that get lost. Scratched at the beach. And sat on. Personally, I have come to consider sunglasses a disposable item, and I suspect I am not alone.

Yeah probably not. But I am. I bought a pair of Serengeti drivers when I was about 14 years old with money I saved up from sweeping the warehouse and sorting screws and bolts and washers in the stock room at my dad's construction company. I wore them through college and then got a prescription pair of Serengetis for driving when I got my first consulting job. In 2000 I bought some expensive frames on the Champs Elysees and had prescription polarized lenses put in them back in Atlanta. When I moved to Tallahassee and had to work in the field they were too small for the bright light there. I bought some big wraparound Maui Jims specially made for working on the water and had those French frames converted to computer glasses. In the field I was looking far away and writing on paper up close so the prescription wouldn't have worked anyway.

I still have all of these glasses and every other pair I've ever owned. I broke a temple on the Maui Jims swimming underwater with them. I sent them to the service center and they replaced the temples for free. And I ground them down with my Dremel tool again to fit my freakishly small head. I guess I've gotten the cost of those $200 glasses down to about $0.02 per hour of use over the 6 years I've been wearing them. They never were in fashion so they aren't going out. Also I'd argue that Maui Jims aren't the same as the drug store glasses at all.

My brother buys expensive polarized anti-reflective sunglasses too, as he should, working outside in South Florida. But he loses them something awful. What makes me different? Is it that I started out so young with glasses that represented about 6 months income? Is it because I am a girl and get to carry a purse? I think both. I established muscle memory for putting them straight in the case when I take them off. I couldn't lose them or get them scratched at this point in my life any more than I could forget to put the gas cap back on my car. Even when I have that moment of panic pulling out of the gas station where I think, "Did I put the gas cap back on?!" I remind myself that it would be nearly impossible to stop the automatic motion of screwing that thing back on until it clicks about five times and closing the door. No, I don't remember doing it. Why would I? I don't think about it anymore. Muscle memory.

I'm trying to think about what I think of as a disposable item. Dishes. When I started living in my tiny house I bought melamine plates and polycarbonate glasses. It was easier to wash them by hand and store them in a drawer. I liked that process so much even when I got a dishwasher and more space I put my set of 12 dishes up on a high shelf and bought two of each size plate or bowl that I wanted in melamine. They cost about $4 each at Target. When I move I'll throw them away.

I've also switched from heavy furniture for clothing to individual polyethylene drawers. When I sold my house in Atlanta the buyer requested that I leave behind the solid wood "chester draws." How could I refuse? I got so many good laughs out of that! What if I'd had a bureau and a chifforobe, too?

Now I'm hooked on the plastic drawers with the convenience of being able to move everything in manageable, contained units. I try not to own anything I can't pick up by myself. When I was building my little house I had to carry everything out in the yard every weekend. I guess those plastic drawer units are disposable, albeit long lived and very moving-day friendly.

I can't think of a single other multi-use item that I consider disposable. I guess I just like nice things and am prepared to take care of them. Oh, non-stick frying pans. Totally disposable.

Only a matter of time for the remaining pair of spectacles.

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