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The Time I Broke My Glasses 3 Hours From Home

A few summers ago, the twins and I had this goat rodeo-like trip to the beach where everything went wrong.  It was so bad that the three of us sat in an ice cream store parking lot sobbing at one point, and before we could drive, we had to text Josh and ask if we could have a do-over for the trip.

Last week, the three of us were going to the beach and thing after thing kept happening on the drive out.  The ChickieNob commented that this trip felt very much like the one a few summers ago.

“Don’t be so dramatic,” I said.  “This is nothing like that trip.”

Little did I know.

My first mistake came when I decided not to charge my phone.  Why charge my phone?  I barely use my phone.  The only reason I need it is to text pictures of us to Josh.  It has enough of a charge.  Let’s just drop that puppy in the Wolvog’s backpack and go.

(Why was I using the Wolvog’s backpack?  Because I forgot my own.  I also managed to pack one of my shoes and one of the ChickieNob’s shoes so I didn’t have sneakers with me.  Let’s just say that it’s a different kind of smart.)

So we go rent bikes for a ride around the nature reserve.  I’m standing there in my helmet, waiting for the guy to help me get a bike, when I decide to switch my glasses.  I start to pull my glasses from my face, but it feels all wrong.  It feels like glue being stretched across my face, and I can hear the people around me gasping.  The lens in my glasses falls to the ground, and I hear the boy at the bike shop say, “Whoa… that sucks.”

“I can’t see,” I told everyone frantically.  I couldn’t even see to pick up the lens.  Someone found it on the ground, and I threw on my prescription sunglasses.  Somehow the arm of the glasses had broken clean off, and the wire holding on the lens had snapped.  My glasses were in three pieces.


Please ignore the tape on my glasses.  I tried Scotch taping them back together in a fit of hysteria.

“What do I do?”  I was 3 hours from home with two kids.  My cell phone barely had a charge.  The skies were growing darker pre-storm.  All I had were my sunglasses, which wouldn’t be helpful in a few hours.  I had no way of getting the kids home or getting them food or continuing the trip.  I texted Josh the situation and jumped on the bike.  “Let’s ride.”  I needed to think.

We did a fast loop — 5 miles — barely taking in the scenery.  And then we dropped off the bikes so I could collect my messages.  Josh found a discount superstore about a half hour away who could fix the glasses.  It meant giving up two hours of our vacation to fix my mistake.  I was so upset, I couldn’t stop crying as we gathered our things so we could head to the store.

Oh… and I forgot to pack lunch.  The Wolvog can’t eat most things right now, so… we were foodless.  But no worries because we’ll be back a little after 1.


We get to the discount superstore and they can help us, but it will take 7 to 10 days.  Did they understand that I cannot see?  We were in the vision center in a discount superstore.  Couldn’t we use some super glue and such to Macgyver my glasses back together?  I just needed them to get me home.  They refused to help me — gluing glasses is not part of the vision center.  But they suggested that we head to the nearest city about another half hour away.  There was a jeweler there who could solder the glasses back together, and there was also an eyeglass store that could make me a new pair.

(No offense, but wasn’t I in an eyeglass store?)

I cried some more on the way to the next town.  I was terrified because we were getting closer to the point where it would be too dark outside to use my sunglasses, and there was no promise that the eyeglass store could make me a new pair of glasses instantly.  And my cell phone was running out of battery.  What if I was now an hour from the hotel and 2 hours from home and totally screwed?

We found the eyeglass store in the mall, bypassing the jeweler, and begged them to help me.  The guy took one look at my glasses and said, “those are done.”  (Yeah, I had figured that out by now.)  But could he make me a new pair?  Like right now?  Because I was really far from home with two kids and unable to see.

Yes, he could make me a pair of glasses.  We just had one small problem: my prescription was at home.  It was also at my eyeglass store at home, which refused to forward it to the store I was in despite the fact that I was hours from home and therefore couldn’t patron their store.  That seemed unnecessarily dick-y, no?  But that was their policy: they wouldn’t forward my prescription, even in an emergency, to a competitor despite my promise to buy a new pair of glasses at their shop when I got home.

So I called my eye doctor to have her fax the prescription to the store.  Only their fax machine wasn’t working.  So Josh drove home and took a photo of my prescription, which the eyeglass store accepted.  The man had passed me off with a woman who REFUSED TO HELP ME PICK A PAIR OF GLASSES.  She insisted that she was not allowed to help me choose.  What is her job except to help people choose glasses?  She kept telling me to choose what I liked, except I had no clue what I liked.

So I grabbed the cheapest frames and sat down to make the rest of my choices, crying the entire time.  By the way, the twins were just staring off into space this entire time.  Sometimes the ChickieNob rubbed my back, but mostly they just stood there silently, watching their mother unravel.

I had a long, annoying discussion with the woman over which lens to get.  I kept explaining to her that I needed the same lens that had been in the old glasses, and she could give me that, but did I want something different?  No.  I wanted those lens.  I needed those lens.  They helped me see at night.  Could she just give me the lens I wanted?  Please?  I can’t seeeeeeeeeee.

They started making my glasses, and the kids and I went to sit in what may be the most depressing food court in the world.  They were selling milkshakes with Slim Jims in them.  Yes, you read that correctly.  They were selling “meatshakes.”  I had to sit with my back to the sign.  The kids took one for the team and faced it.

An hour later, I went back to the store to pick up the ugliest glasses in the world.  The kids kept trying to make me feel better by telling me that they weren’t hideous, but I could look in the mirror and see them.  They were enormous and didn’t fit my face.  They kept slipping down my nose.  And, frankly, I looked like Christian Bale in American Hustle.

But they worked.  I could drive us back to the hotel.

So now I am the owner of the world’s ugliest glasses.  I’m not wearing them because I had a second pair of glasses at home.  And that is the point of this post.  If you cannot see, as I cannot see, you should not travel without a backup pair of glasses.  Buy a cheap pair right now during the back-to-school sales.  They don’t need to be gorgeous, they just need to be functional.

Make sure you always have a copy of your prescription.  Take a photo of it and keep it on your phone, or scan a copy of it to keep on your phone, or bring a hard copy just in case.  (In my case, I may do all three.)  Make sure you keep your prescription up-to-date.  Most places will not accept a prescription that is more than two years old.

Make sure you know the location of the nearest eyeglass store to your vacation spot.  Keep a travel tool kit for fixing small issues like a lost screw, but also know where you can go to fix your glasses OR get an entirely new pair of glasses.  Not that you’ll need to do this because you’ll be traveling with a second pair of glasses, right?

Please learn from my mistakes.

All is well that ends well with ugly glasses because we got one hour on the beach; just enough time for a gaggle of 60-year-old men to Periscope us without our permission.

Though I’m joking about the incident now, I think the most disconcerting part was how many unhelpful and uncaring people I encountered in a single day.  People who just stood there and watched me cry, or who refused to help even though they were in a position where they could help.  That’s the part that sucked the most.


1 stacey { 08.25.15 at 8:00 am }

Oh man, that’s rough! What a stressful vacation. I have several similar stories, but I wear contacts. My husband’s family visited from Italy for our small wedding here in CA, and we went traveling with them after the wedding (not our official honeymoon, but still …). I had no prescription sunglasses, and no spare pairs of contacts, and I ripped one of my contacts on our first night. My eyes are really sensitive to the sun, so I couldn’t wear my glasses during the day because I needed sunglasses. Luckily, my husband’s contact lens prescription is close enough to mine that I could wear one of his, and the eye with the right lens gradually compensated after a few hours of some really weird vision. I also went camping last week and kept noticing in the evening that my glasses seemed lopsided, but never investigated. The night we arrived home, I took out my contacts, put on my glasses, and boom! the screw fell out. Since I already had my contacts out, I was crawling around on the floor trying to find it, which amazingly I did!, but I couldn’t get it back in. They’d still balance on my face, and would have worked for driving in a pinch. I brought them back to the store where I bought them the next day, and they fixed them without ever actually confirming that I had bought them there, which was very nice. So yes, a spare pair of glasses or contacts in my purse would be a good idea!

2 illustr8d { 08.25.15 at 8:27 am }

change eye glass stores at home immediately. Otherwise, you handled it! All is well! And noted, thank you. I could drive without glasses, but can’t read without them. (Well, get a car .phone charger)

3 Parul { 08.25.15 at 9:05 am }

Oh that is so terrible and you must have gone through so much in those couple of hours. I wear glasses and I do understand what you are saying. It’s always good to carry a spare pair. Thank you for sharing the story!

4 Mel { 08.25.15 at 9:09 am }

Yeah, one of those would be good, too. 🙂 I actually have a car charger but it fits my old phone. I obviously need to get a new one for times like these.

5 Katherine A { 08.25.15 at 9:16 am }

Sorry to hear about the glasses disaster and all the unhelpful people. That is truly disconcerting. And that eye-glass shop that wouldn’t send your prescription…awful.

I’ll have to remember that tip for my husband – he can drive without glasses, but tends to get nasty headaches when he doesn’t wear them. It would be good if we kept his spare pair in the car that we usually take on trips.

6 Katherine A { 08.25.15 at 9:20 am }

Okay, and I’ll confess, I read that “meatshakes” part and can’t help thinking “eeeeeewwwwww”. That’s a thing?!

7 Lori Lavender Luz { 08.25.15 at 9:32 am }

Oh, my. Meat shakes and gaggles of geriatric periscopers. And people who could help — or at least sympathize — and didn’t. I would have panicked, too. I’m so sorry your beach time was so tarnished.

I hope you get a do-over that that it’s fabulous. So glad the twins were willing to face that sign.

8 Peg { 08.25.15 at 10:15 am }

You have such skill in making what sounds like a horrible day kinda funny…meatshakes! Sounds like the kids handled the situation well. This is actually one of my big fears–being without my contacts or glasses and needing to drive. Those without (like my husband) just can’t understand how disorienting and awful it is not to be able to see clearly without your eyewear. Sorry this happened and hope trip #3 will be a big improvement over the first two.

9 Charlotte { 08.25.15 at 10:41 am }

I am sorry that you had a Murphy’s law kind of trip. That really stinks. And all those people that could help but didn’t? Karma will handle that.

Why can’t the Wolvog eat most things right now??

You need to go to 5Below or a similar store and buy the car adapter that fits a usb cord and keep it in your purse so you always have it just in case.

10 Ana { 08.25.15 at 10:45 am }

Oh man. I’m sorry. Sounds like your kids handled it with aplomb. Good tips—I’ll remind my husband about these. We once drove back over an hour because I realized he didn’t bring his glasses as a back up (he wears contacts) to a one week beach trip 13 hours away. So glad, because his eyes got irritated and he couldn’t get his contacts in and was really glad he had those glasses!

11 Sharon { 08.25.15 at 1:40 pm }

Ugh, I felt so bad for you reading this post. What an awful situation to be in.

People really suck sometimes when doing just one little thing which is completely within their power to do would mean so much to someone who needs help. I’m sorry that happened to you in this instance.

12 Alexicographer { 08.25.15 at 2:44 pm }

Yikes, I’m sorry. I had a sort of similar experience on a vacation where I broke my arm (really) and the number of people who might have done something helpful but — didn’t, boggled my mind.

I’d definitely be in favor of your getting a new eyeglass store (locally) immediately.

13 nicoleandmaggie { 08.25.15 at 3:07 pm }


And ditto on ditching your home eye-glass store for one that will forward prescriptions (and tell the first store why!)

14 Amy Elaine { 08.25.15 at 4:55 pm }

Oh, honey. Big hugs.

15 Turia { 08.25.15 at 8:37 pm }

What a terrible day. I’m so sorry. I don’t wear glasses, but Q. does. I don’t think he has a backup pair and I know he doesn’t travel with his prescription. Thank you for this.

16 loribeth { 08.25.15 at 9:09 pm }

Yikes! I have lost the little nosepieces from my glasses down the bathroom sink drain while I was on vacation — twice! Both times, I was able to get them replaced, fairly quickly & cheaply. But I’ve never had anything like that happen before (knocking wood…!). I do keep my previous pair of glasses around (at home) as a backup pair, just in case. But not ON me.

I’ve always thought a second pair of glasses was a luxury — but you make a good case for having one, and having it WITH you at all times.

17 Mali { 08.25.15 at 10:11 pm }

Oh, that all sucks. I agree with illustr8d. I can’t believe your eyeglass store wouldn’t send your prescription in an emergency. They’ve shot themselves in the foot in terms of protecting their business, because you should never use them again.

And thank goodness for prescription sunglasses!

When I travel internationally, I always take an extra pair of glasses. But I’m going to the South Island next week, and I probably wouldn’t have taken my old glasses. I think I will now!

18 deathstar { 08.26.15 at 12:58 am }

I’m sorry hon. What is wrong with people? You actually didn’t need to get new glasses, all you needed was some crazy glue and some duct tape. Just enough to get you home. That’s the Canadian solution to everything by the way. They were greedy, awful people.

19 Heather { 08.26.15 at 2:11 am }

I am so sorry Mel. What an unhelpful bunch of people when you needed help the most. And thank goodness for your helpful husband!

20 JustHeather { 08.26.15 at 5:16 am }

*hugs* Mel! That sounds horrible and made me feel stressed just reading about it. 🙁 I am very thankful for my SIL who owns a glasses shop. I’ve been going to her ever since I arrived in Finland. Definitely find somewhere else that is helpful and caring.

21 a { 08.26.15 at 12:24 pm }

You should probably emulate Corey Hart and wear your sunglasses at night sometime. You might be surprised at how well you can see. It’s different than walking inside with your sunglasses still on. It might give you a headache, but in an emergency…

The customer service you had was absolutely terrible. Sorry to hear about it – but one would think that if your customer was crying, you would do whatever it took to make her stop. Even if that meant, say, breaking the rules about helping choose glasses (and I’m sure those rules are to “protect the consumer” from predatory sales people who only want to sell the expensive designer frames. Who cares? It’s the lenses where they really bleed you dry!). Or faxing over an emergency prescription (although, I’m sure there are rules about that. I’m equally sure that the rules apply to other types of prescriptions and that no one steals someone’s eyeglass prescription. Ever.)

When I was 19 or 20, I lost a contact while staying over at my friend’s house. I had to drive home (45 minutes in Chicago traffic!) with only one contact. I often wander around the house with no contacts or glasses too…but my husband, who wears glasses exclusively, cannot. Eyes are weird, man.

22 md { 08.27.15 at 12:07 am }

omg, what a sucky trip. so glad it’s over and all of you are ok. definitely find a new eye glass store. somebody is crying in front of you and you don’t help them -mind boggling. sheesh.

23 Amber { 08.27.15 at 9:16 am }

Yikes! That sounds like a trip gone bad, but your kids sound like such troopers. How sweet that the ChickieNob rubbed your back while you were upset! I’m sorry you ran into others who weren’t quite so feeling.

24 Valery Valentina { 08.27.15 at 3:32 pm }

Completely weird about even needing the prescription. You had your old lens with you, here we have little machines that can just measure what it is. I remember buying prescription dive goggles and they could just scan my normal glasses. This was around 2000 in Australia, I cannot believe that at least two American stores were unable to.
And in Amsterdam they would not only have measured your glasses (and tried to fix your old ones) they might even have measured your eyes on the spot if you wanted to and had some time.
So um, so sorry.

25 Jess { 08.28.15 at 8:02 am }

I’m so glad you ended up able to see after such a long and arduous journey, bit so sorry that humans suck. It really felt like you hit some weird concentration of awful, unhelpful people. And meat shakes? EW! by the way, my friend Michele dubbed that “different kind of smart” Mind Champ. When you’re obviously brilliant but do stiff like search tearfully for the car keys IN YOUR HAND. Among other things…

26 carol anne { 08.28.15 at 8:34 am }

Good grief, you’d think the fact that you were away from home and had two children with you would have compelled them to be more helpful. *shakes head*

The level of unhelpfulness and “just following the rules” out there in the world is unbelievable anymore.

My dad passed away last week and on that day I got a call that said, get here, get here now. I got to the ER in record time only to be waylaid by an unhelpful/following-the-rules security guard who wouldn’t get me back without giving me a badge and the system was down or slow or something.

It took me freaking out and another security guard taking pity on me to get back to see my father. It’s as if rules and a complete lack of compassion and common sense have overtaken good common sense and compassion as the order of the day.

27 Claire { 08.30.15 at 9:36 pm }

In Britain we call these kind of thoughtlessly unhelpful robots “jobs worth”. I.e. It’s more than my job’s worth to bend over backwards to help you / break the rules. I.e. It’s not worth getting fired to help you.
So unimaginative and the kind you could imagine carrying out inhumane orders from superiors as well as those trivial rule keepers.
Last time I bought some glasses ( a long time ago) I went to the Pearle Vision store particularly because there was one optician that was incredibly gifted at helping ppl pick out the right glasses. She got it right with my glasses.
I hope you talk to the manager of the glasses store that refused up send you your prescription and give him / her a piece of your mind. I think it’s probably against their rules for them to refuse to give you a copy if your OWN prescription. Makes my blood boil!

28 Geochick { 08.31.15 at 3:01 pm }

Oh, that sucks! And both eyeglass stores deserve crappy reviews and maybe a strongly worded letter. What a-holes.

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