The Choices We Make
For a little bit now, I’ve been taking what I like to call a “working sabbatical” from being an Optician. I come from an entrepreneurial family: my parents started a septic company when I was a child and it has grown into quite a corporation. Last year as I put my home on the market in hopes to move out of New England, they asked for my help (temporarily) in bringing their business to the next level with my cross-industry experience. Turns out, the real estate market isn’t fantastic and selling a home can be quite the endeavor… my short-term sabbatical has turned into something lengthier than I expected.
As the need for me involved full-time at my parent’s business is dwindling, I’ve been scouring for some part-time Optician/Lab work to fill this void while keeping my fingers crossed that this is the year I will break free of New Hampshire.
Recently, I drove over an hour to job-shadow at an enormous chain retail optical (who shall remain nameless) and was offered a part-time job on the spot (I mean, minus having to pass a background check… but no worries there!). For a moment it felt pretty good to know that I could “make the cut” that quickly; a real confidence booster that yeah, I guess I do know what I’m talking about.
However, the moment was short-lived as I sat down with a manager to talk about the company and the direction of the business. I’d say the conversation went okay… as okay as it could have gone from a private practice, Optometrist’s office Optician in a conglomerate, chain retail environment. I expected the difference in attitude towards eyewear because that’s the nature of the industry… some companies drive fashion and the “look”, others push the medical necessity and getting the best vision, while others do some beautiful combination of both.
What I didn’t expect was the manager bringing up and boasting about this company’s attitude regarding being a “monopoly” and that it’s something they are proud of being. Though my gut reaction was instant, I took a few days to mull things over and in the end I decided to decline the job offer.
I am itching to get back into making glasses for people, but I’m not desperate enough to ditch my own principles. I pride myself on being especially interested in low-vision cases and finding the best solutions as well as fighting for the “little guy” – the Mom and Pop. The doctor I learned from and who gave me my first opportunity in the industry (eternally grateful to Chris R. Fields, OD) built a set of core values within the foundation of my beliefs as an Optician. I believe in the time and effort of each pair of glasses and their purpose for the person purchasing them. I believe in offering the best quality possible while creating a comfortable, family-like experience.
I made the choice to not jump on the bandwagon and help the monopoly take over the optical world; I made the choice to stick to my core values as an Optician and I cannot feel bad about that decision.