I have decided to kick off my 26th year of Chairside by sharing some random thoughts about this strange and unusual journey:

1. I have always been amused that my colleagues who really don’t know me assume many things:

  • That I am funny. Those who know me will tell you that I have my moments, but I am mostly quite a serious fellow. Perhaps spending less time cracking people up when I meet them would help. 
  • That I am bald. My hair, which has run the gamut from Ozzy Osbourne to Billy Ray Cyrus to Snoop Dog to Blake Shelton, is all mine, friends. Quit tugging on it to see. And, yes, I add grey streaks to make me look older and wiser.
  • That I am an expert in everything. I have been asked to offer, for example, CE. I guess I could speak on how many useless trips to make to Home Depot before breaking down and hiring a plumber. I could also talk about handling an online CL company’s request for an expired Rx while avoiding the fuss of spontaneous combustion. But the newest tool to handle Demodex? The best I can come up with is an old ant farm where you fill it with eyelashes so they prefer to live there. 
  • That I am a Democrat. To me, global warming just means the property I own in West Virginia will someday be beachfront. 

2. How did I get this gig?

A. I toiled to hone my writing skills so I would be ready when luck met opportunity.
B. The publishers of Review of Optometry lost a bet. 
C. When God was distracted, my grandmother snuck me onto His to-do list. 
D. I accepted my neuroses, and the rest his history. 

 (Answer? B. Never spot anyone 14 points. It got me married!)

3. I was fortunate to have wonderful mentors, and I hope you do as well. All of optometry’s concerns are covered by their wise sayings:

  • “Make ‘em see better.”  – Dr. George Bodie, 1980.
  • “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make cents.” – Dr. Aaron Vickers, 2006.
  • “If you have to give them their answer today, always say ‘No’.” -– My Dad, 1969.
  • “Never buy a car that won’t hold a few 2x4s.” – Larry Johnson, 2010.
  • “Vickers, write this down. People are no damn good.” – Anon., 1979. His mom taught me in first grade. You are brilliant and you know who you are, doctor! 

4. The first time you fire someone breaks your heart. The second one leaves you kind of numb, but the third time you’ll think it’s a blast!

5. If you demonstrate a PAL to the patient and they say, “OK, I see how that works,” tell them that’s the Holy Spirit talking. 

6. My contact lens philosophy is this: If it’s in the woods, looks like a horse and has black and white stripes, it’s probably a zebra.

7. Patients cannot cancel, they can only postpone. The only one who is allowed to even say the word cancel in the office is me!

8. Contracts only mean some lawyer will make more money. 

9. I always assume patients are smarter than I am when it comes to their needs. Start from there and you will be very successful indeed!

10. Optometry is the one profession that requires you to accept yourself completely. Don’t keep score. Just have fun taking care of the patient in Room One before moving on to Room Two. That’s what a doctor does.