I love engineers. There’s this optometric legend that engineers are notoriously difficult to please. I have found this to be patently false.
However, never say the word “patent” unless you have an hour to listen to descriptions of the 432 patents that your engineer has and how each one solved some glitch. Try instead, “Your tear duct is open,” or you will be schooled in valve reversal gradient theory.
You will also get “the look.” You know the look. It’s the one that an engineer gives you when you suggest he might consider a PAL instead of his tried-and-true flat-top trifocal—the look that hovers between bemusement and disgust. What are you? Stupid?
To avoid “the look,” here are some ways to communicate with engineers to make your life easier:
1. Use initials. AMD. SLK. IOL. LOL. PPM. M-I-C-K-E-Y. Just leave ’em hanging in the air like ripe peaches. Oh, and be prepared to explain what they stand for, unless you want your ego emulsified like peach puree blended at 1,000 RPMs.
2. Say “I don’t know” when you don’t know. You cannot BS a PhD in civil engineering. I have two BS degrees and I am as helpless as a newborn blind fawn if an engineer figures out I’m full of crap. My favorite response is, “If I knew that, I’d win the Nobel Prize in Medicine.” (Oh, but make sure your engineer has not actually won a Nobel Prize. Nobel Prize winners are notorious condescending braggarts.)
3. Smile. I know this seems lame in the face of a skeptical engineer, but I’ve learned that engineers have hearts too. They may even smile back when confronted with a genuinely kind smile that is less than two meters from their own plane of reference.
4. NEVER NEGOTIATE THE FEE! Lordy, engineers always ask about this. Now, does their training turn them into pennypinchers, or were they always folks who wore the same pocket protector, same blue button-down shirt and same saggy khaki pants for their 30-year career, into retirement, and at their own funeral?
5. Get this through your thick skull: Their seg height is not right! Doesn’t matter where you put it.
High… low… on center… 3 below. It’s wrong. The good news is this gives you a conversation starter every single time you see them in the office… at the post office… at the bank… in the grocery store…
6. Let them teach you. Engineers seldom say dumb stuff. I’ve learned much from my engineer patients that has helped me understand, completely, that it is good that we have these folks engineering all over the place. I have also learned that the world is a better place that THEY are engineers and that I am NOT an engineer.
7. Engineers will adore your OCT. My OCT even comes with a folder that explains how the stupid thing works just in case the engineer there asks you how it works. Of course, that becomes a 30-minute delay as they chat about Fourier Domain Analysis. Fortunately, you can get around this by saying: “I can’t even get my toilet to flush right and some brilliant engineer figured out how to make near infrared light show me the layers of the retina.” When they proudly grin, RUN FROM THE ROOM and just pray they follow! Let your receptionist listen to the engineer’s analysis of the Fourier Domain Analysis analysis.