Glasses, Bullying, and Seeing Things Clearly Pt. IV

Just before graduation from basic training in the Air Force in 1971, I learned what my next base was and what my AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) would be. My job was my second choice, Medical Service Specialist. I’d asked to be an air traffic controller to be around airplanes and very disappointed after that was nixed since I needed glasses. But my future would’ve been so different had I gotten my first choice. Some 10 years later, on August 5, 1981, President Reagan fired 11,000 air traffic controllers who refused to return to work during a union strike. Their union was basically disbanded, and the fired workers couldn’t get federal jobs ever again. The FAA needed almost 10 years to get enough controllers for airplanes to fly as safely as they did before the strike and was forced to rehire a few old controllers. Needing glasses in 1971 saved me from losing a good paying job and having to struggle to learn a new trade with my young family. Like all kids with glasses in elementary school, I was called four eyes, bullied, and made fun of because of my coke-bottle glasses, but those bullies didn’t know about my years of not seeing anything clearly and the jubilation I felt after getting glasses. They didn’t know my love of nature and birds and how much that love would grow as I did because I could see. The feather-weight plastic lenses of the 2000s, with anti-glare coating, transition lenses, and ultra thin frames I no longer break every other day like back then, don’t cause the sore ears and nose I suffered as a kid, and I’m grateful. I’m still wearing glasses at age 63, trifocals now, with a cataract forming in my left eye, but I can still see as clearly as I did that July day I got my first pair of coke-bottle glasses.