POEM: An Exercise in Everyday Absurdity [Prose Poem]

At an optician’s office, I was being sold a scratch-proof coating for my new eyeglasses. I usually summarily reject last-minute add-ons designed to squeeze additional profit out of the consumer, assuming they are all like rust-proofing, extended warranties, and muffler-nut re-torqueing plans — which is to say, needlessly complicated ways to toss away money.

But this guy was compelling. Well, in part he was compelling, and in part I tend to drop things [phones, glasses, remote-controls, toaster pastries, etc.] with great regularity. So, when I was offered this space-age scratch-proof coating, a coating that I was promised could survive being tumbled around in a cement mixer, I was sold.

Then, as this salesman was packing up my glasses, he said, “Here is your special cleaning cloth. Make sure you use this cloth — and ONLY this cloth — when cleaning your glasses.”

To which I replied, “Uh, why…, exactly?”

“Because you’ll scratch the coating,” he said patronizingly, as one might to a child or an adult one suspected a court of law had deemed mentally incompetent to dress himself.

“So this ‘scratch-proof’ coating, the one that’s supposed to survive a five-story fall and sidewalk bounce, the one that nearly doubles the cost of the glasses, that coating can’t survive whatever grit might remain lodged in a freshly-laundered cotton T-shirt?”

“Exactly! Now you’re getting it. So, just make sure you only use the special cloth, okay?” he said in a manner that I feared would end in the tousling of my hair.

Do you know why I believe this salesman was so good at his job? Most people would get severe cognitive dissonance-induced headaches from trying to maintain this matrix of logically-inconsistent information in one brain. This individual was unplagued by such difficulties. That allowed him to not only maintain a straight face while being challenged on the issue, but to truly believe that it is those who have trouble reconciling these conflicting pieces of information that are defective.

This might sound like a rant, but it’s not. I’m convinced that it is people such as he who will inherit the earth, and I’m in awe of their special gift.