It will make more sense if you use your reading glasses

The other day I was at a restaurant with three friends and decided to be Mr. Deep Pockets and collect the check. Times are tough, so I wanted to be generous in case I needed them to co-sign a loan when the recession hits and my 401(k) tanks.

They offered to tip. I should have left them because I didn’t have my reading glasses. But that didn’t stop me. It wasn’t until later that I realized I had left a tip of almost 40%. In fact, my wife, with her excellent math skills, figured it out first and it wasn’t a pleasant conversation.

I couldn’t see, so I doubled, or tripled, the wrong number. I can never remember what number you’re supposed to double or triple.


Our waitress got bumped, so I’m not complaining. Plus, she’s been out of work for months during the COVID lockdown and probably doesn’t even have a 401(k).

It taught me a lesson that had nothing to do with tips or retirement savings. It taught me the absolute necessity of always having your reading glasses close at hand. You never know what’s wrong without them until it’s gone wrong, all because you couldn’t read the fine print on your student loan, your mortgage, your insurance policy, your ballot or your prenuptial agreement.

Thanks to my eye doctor my distance vision is 20/15 so I can spot you trying to get into my car through a crowded parking lot… but my near vision is poor so I might not recognize you in the police queue.

The problem with reading glasses is that they get lost more than car keys, cell phones, and prenuptial agreements, so I started keeping mine tied around my neck with a lanyard. It’s like a flashing neon sign that says, “Watch out! The old man who cannot see is coming! Take his wallet!

Most adults get their first pair of cheaters at 40. This is your initiation into middle age. When your near vision begins to decline, you may be diagnosed with a condition called “presbyopia,” which in Latin means “the beginning of the end.” But be optimistic, this is only the end of the beginning.

At 40, the inner lenses of your eyes begin to lose their flexibility and you find it difficult to shift your attention from, say, the girl in a bikini walking on the beach…to your wife sitting next to you. you, growling, “If you don’t stop staring at that girl *!#&^@*, I’m gonna hit you with that bottle of Sam Adams!” If you hate violence as much as I do, you try to avoid situations like this.

Reading glasses will prevent your wife from hitting you, because in polite society it is uncivil to hit a guy with glasses.

Here are some tips to prepare for these drastic lifestyle changes:

Always remember that reading glasses get lost. A lot. This is particularly annoying because if you lose your glasses, how are you going to find your glasses without your glasses?

If you’re a lawyer or someone who gets sued frequently, I recommend buying a strap to keep your glasses around your neck constantly in the courtroom, on the restroom, and in restaurants. You never know when the fine print will show up. Just ask Chuck Schumer, a New York senator known for putting fine print in legislation, which is why he always wears reading glasses.

It’s good to have a spare pair or two, or 22. My friend Jim has a pair of cheaters in every room. He buys them at the dollar store, which is now the $3 store. Unfortunately, they are only worth a dollar and serve no purpose.

Another issue with reading glasses is that they need to be cleaned regularly as they magnify stains. My wife often complains that her reading glasses are dirty, so I bought her a box of expensive German lens wipes, which cost more than the glasses. To save money in these times of inflation, I just blow on mine and wipe them off with my T-shirt.

Spectacles were first invented in Italy in the 13th century, but Renaissance American Benjamin Franklin made bifocals in 1784. He also invented the lightning rod, Franklin stove, and flexible catheter to help her brother who had kidney stones. (Just thinking about this invention makes me weak in the knees.)

Franklin wrote to his friend George Whatley that he was “pleased with the invention of double spectacles, which, serving both distant and near objects, render my eyes as useful as ever”. This bon vivant was known to party with John Adams and George Washington at City Tavern in Philadelphia and always got stuck footing the bill. And believe me, there’s no greater horror than paying a bill you can’t read.

Former Stamford attorney and Greenwich Times editor Joe Pisani can be reached at [email protected]

About Marion Alexander

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