On choosing

(From late January…)

Some people know exactly what they want, what they like. When they have to choose something, anything, they make their choices based on pre-decided ideas.

Say they like strawberry ice cream. If they want ice cream they will find an ice cream shop or van or stand or other vendor (probably the first one they see, or one they already know) and buy one. It doesn’t matter if they’re faced with a full range of ice cream flavours, they will choose strawberry. They won’t bother paying much attention to the mint choc chip or the coconut or the pineapple (or all the rest) because they already know that they want strawberry. They will walk away from the ice cream stand, enjoying their strawberry ice cream, totally satisfied with their choice. The rest of the day is free for new thoughts and new choices.

I am not that person (and this post isn’t really about icecream).

I probably won’t think about ice cream until I see someone eating one. Then I have to choose where to go, which of the many salespeople to support. Is it better to pay more for the person who makes it herself, but has chosen the warmest place for her stand (increasing the electricity consumption, and probably the rent, but who already has people queueing up along the pavement and is unlikely to go out of business, and maybe she doesn’t actually make it herself anyway), or to make the effort to walk that bit further to the one in the shade which looks like it could do with a paint job (but may be unable to afford the scaffolding, because everyone else is going to the new, brightly coloured place which might put them out of business completely soon, which would make the paintwork even less worthwhile. Although they might have better ice cream, because they’ve been there for ages and they wouldn’t have lasted so long otherwise, would they?) or would the newly opened frozen yoghurt place be a better option? Maybe I should wait until I go to the supermarket later? That’s better value. But then it’s not supporting anyone personally, they won’t even notice, and they aren’t environmentally friendly or efficient with their freezer lorries. But making icecream en masse is bound to be more efficient than in small batches. Except they will use preservatives and food colourings and sweeteners and…. Oh look! There’s another ice cream stand!

And that’s before I’ve even got round to looking at the flavours…

You get the idea. I won’t elaborate further.

Once I buy my icecream and walk out of the shop, all the flavours I didn’t choose start running through my head. I start wondering if I made the best choice. Maybe the peach would’ve been a good choice after all. They had sorbet, I haven’t had a sorbet for ages. Perhaps lemon would’ve been more refreshing than the coconut? Maybe they have the most amazing chocolate icecream in the whole world and I missed it because I decided I can get chocolate icecream everywhere and went for something uncommon instead. I tend to do that. If I know most of the flavours on offer (or most of the meals on the menu) I will choose something I don’t know.*

I will still be wondering if it was the best choice when I finish eating. Especially if the people I’m with are busy enthusing about how awesome their’s is/was.

***

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see talk to my favourite optician. (Told you it wasn’t a post about icecream)

I’d been to the German eye-doctor, and she’d given me the go ahead to get glasses made up and a sick note to let me off work until the end of the month.

DB was at work.
The electrician wasn’t due until the next day.

I had time on my hands.

Luckily.

***

Usually sight tests begin with the optician trying to blind you with bright lights.

My optician skipped that part because, as she said, I’d “had more than [my] fair share of bright lights shone in [my] eyes recently”. Did I mention that she’s my favourite optician?

The first test lenses brought back the outlines – exhilarating, after almost a month of blur. After the initial leap towards sight, we started fine tuning and the world, my world, slowly came [back] into focus. A couple of degrees more or less, a quarter of a dioptre here or there, B is suddenly better than A and you can look across the street and read the adverts in the shop windows. The ones you only knew were there because all shops have windows and most of them advertise something. Incredible really.

After witnessing the world become clearer and clearer, I was reluctant to take the test glasses off.

(A side note for anyone who has perfect eyesight and never had need of an eye test: the test glasses are bulky, heavy, uncomfortable things. They slot various lenses in and out of the chunky frame, asking whether A is better or worse than B. Usually it’s tedious and you want to take them off as soon as possible. This time it was amazing and I wanted to keep them on.)

I did though, hard as it was, when she promised to get my glasses made up as soon as possible.

***

Turns out that was the easy part.

The hard part was choosing a pair of glasses that I liked, that I could wear everywhere and with everything, that didn’t block my view, but that didn’t dig into my cheeks. A pair that would be strong enough to cope with nights next to the tissue box on my bedside table, and being squished every time I pull a jumper over my head without thinking about it, without being too heavy. I don’t like seeing the frame when I’m trying to look at the world, although to be honest, I don’t really like seeing ANYthing get in the way of what I’m looking at. I don’t like it when the lenses are so tiny that you end up peering at things, and yet I also don’t like the HUGE lenses that make you look like a fly. I don’t want the corners to turn upwards or downwards. I don’t want Harry Potter style round ones.

(Yes, I’m a fusspot, tell me something new..).

Why don’t they only stock 3 frames?! There could be a range of colours, the same for each design.. but it would make it easier to choose. 🙂

***

The optician is amazingly patient, in a way I can only dream of imitating. She handed me pair after pair of glasses, alternately held the mirror or the next pair, suggesting this or that and guiding me slowly towards a final choice.

2 hours later (see? there’s a reason for my favouritism!) I left the shop with a small collection-reminder-card, not that I really needed it. She knows me and my prescription (and presumeably) most of her other customers, by heart. She had my contact lenses, back when I wore them, in her hand ready for me between seeing me walk through the gate and actually entering the shop.. And she’d promised to phone me when they were ready to collect, so I didn’t even need it for the date.

But anyway. There I was with the card.

The card that meant I’d made a choice, and that in a couple of minutes when she’d phoned the order through, it would be too late to change my mind.

I walked home in a fuzzy haze. You miss seeing so much more when you’ve just been shown how much you’d see if you could see. If that makes sense.

Weather was good though 🙂

***

A niggly thought crept up to me on the way home and ran round my head for the next couple of days.

“What if they look really stupid? Maybe I should have chosen those other ones. Maybe I should have taken DB in with me after all. Maybe they’re meant to be for old people and I’ll age 40 years when I put them on. Maybe the colour’s wrong, there were some other colours in the same style, maybe I should have gone for them instead? Maybe maybe maybe…..

Argh.

Sometimes I could do with an off-switch in my head.

******

They turned out to be 3 parts of perfect 🙂

– not that they could have been anything else really, my optician would never let me out with something she couldn’t be proud of –

Now I just need to work on being happy with my choices at the time I make them! 🙂

******

 

* Note to other adventurous icecream eaters: Indian “sugar apple” is not a good flavour for icecream (nor, according to my one real, born-and-grown-up-in-India, Indian friend, for anything else). That was the first and only time I have ever been unable to eat more than a couple of teaspoons of icecream. Ever. And I am a pretty good icecream eater 😉 Luckily, on that rare occasion, my brother was here to stay. Even though we’d agreed to buy two unknown flavours and go halves he came to my rescue and ate my half for me. He even forfeited most of his half of the lychee icecream (which I also won’t order again, but which was a whole lot more edible than sugar apple) AND he still speaks to me 🙂 Isn’t he awesome?! Obviously, he’s awesome for a million reasons, but saving me from the horrors of sugar apple icecream is a very important factor ;).

0 Replies to “On choosing”

  1. You and my husband would get along beautifully, as he often suffers from what I call “chooser’s remorse,” where, after he makes a decision on what to do/eat, he’s often jealous of the one I made instead… It takes him forever to place an order, too, but he’s worth waiting for (as I’m sure you are for DB).

    It also reminds me of this concept I’ve only just learned about, decision fatigue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_fatigue

  2. Well I’m with you all the way here! I remember when younger talking about buying a new car, got all the brochures, checked out the insurance, overheard a friend telling a friend that what he admired about me was my ability to make a decision and just go for it! I never bought that car, or any other new car, I kept the one I had till it died beside the road !! Decisions and choices just undo me. I know that the choice I don’t make will always be better than the one I make – unless I make the one I didn’t make in which case the other choice would be better……….

    1. 🙂 Haven’t tried the raspberry one – strawberry cheesecake was good, so I can imagine raspberry would be too 🙂 I’ll have to look out for it…

Leave a Reply