I am not a southern lady

Three years after moving to Georgia, I am still learning the lingo. I am still learning that there is a segment of the population here that is always going to believe that 1) I talk too fast and 2) I am blunt to the point of rudeness. Me, I don’t think I speak particularly fast, nor do I think of myself as rude (though I’ll agree with blunt), but this is a dixie/yankee thing, I guess.

One of the things I’ve learned since moving here is that it’s “polite” to let other people be wrong and/or assholes rather than to stand your ground. That goes over with my personal stance on life (give me honesty or give me death!) about as well as you might imagine. And I’m not even talking about handling a situation with a soft smile and polite words vs. getting angry, I am talking about the flat-out expectation that it is only polite to concede no matter what flavor of bullshit someone is trying to feed you.

This is why I will never be a proper southerner, I guess.

A couple of weeks ago I drove across town to a crappy eyeglass-place-in-the-mall so that Chickadee could get some new glasses. I don’t like the mall places—in fact we were laughing last night over the fact that I still need the GPS to even FIND the mall—but she sees an ophthalmologist for the actual exam, and this store was on the “approved” list for her vision insurance, so off we went.

[Sidebar: Chickadee mostly wears her contacts these days, but she hasn’t had new glasses in over a year. And her last pair came from Zenni, which means they were cheap and serviceable but she’s often lamented how the frames aren’t really her favorite, etc. Fine. I was perfectly willing to go get her a new pair. Of course the eligible shop close to our house had several perfectly lovely frames that she deemed unacceptable, and so I had to make a second, much further trip, to find something befitting the Picky Princess.]

Crappy Mall Store (CMS) had plenty of choices, and after grumping around a bit and rejecting every pair I suggested, Chickadee settled on a perfectly lovely little half-rimless frame. “Sold!” I declared, and I forked over her prescription ready to get our free glasses.

Free glasses? WHY YES. My ex’s vision insurance is supposed to cover a complete set of glasses every two years, and new lenses every year. (Alternatively, you can use the coverage for contacts, which is what we did last year. This year we paid out-of-pocket for the contacts, opting to “save” the insurance for her glasses.) I suspected the frames—one of the cheapest pairs in the store, incidentally—would be a bit over the frame allowance, but I was unprepared for all of the OTHER costs.

The frame was $25 more than the allowance. Fine. And then when it came to lenses, I asked for the anti-reflective coating, which costs $50. (Have I mentioned Zenni? I heart Zenni. Anti-reflective coating at Zenni costs… $5. That’s not a typo.) When I started at the price, they assured me that NORMALLY it’s $100! So really, the insurance is saving us money! And then they wanted to know if we wanted high-index lenses.

Chickadee has a pretty strong prescription, but it’s weakened over the years and her current lenses aren’t terribly thick, so I said we didn’t need high-index. “Well,” pushed the sales associate, “You know, with these half-rimless frames, the lens really shows. You should probably go for the better lens. I mean, I would strongly recommend it.” Okay, fine. She upsold me. We ordered high-index. $150 later (“But the retail is $460!”) we had our “free” glasses ordered.

Yesterday CMS called to say her glasses were ready. After dinner I dispatched Otto and Chickadee to the mall to go pick them up, because we had a busy week ahead of us and I didn’t think we’d have time to do it any other day, plus Chickadee commenced with the “pleasepleaseplease” begging as soon as we got the call. Fine. I did the dishes and they went off to fetch them.

Upon their arrival home, I was horrified to discover that my daughter was wearing coke-bottle-bottom-thick glasses. I mean, she has NEVER had lenses this thick, not even when she was first diagnosed as a half-blind toddler and put into her very first pair of specs.

(I tried very hard not to whirl on Otto and ask him why he hadn’t noticed. I mean, he hadn’t been there when we ordered. Plus he’s a guy.)

I called CMS and got a chirpy sales associate. I explained that I’d sent my husband and daughter in to pick up her glasses, but that there had surely been some mistake, because we had ordered (and paid for) the high-index lenses, and they were terribly thick and clearly not high-index at all.

“Oh, ma’am, yes they are high-index,” said the woman on the phone, dripping with condescension. “I am looking right at the order form and it says they’re high-index.”

“Well yes, of course,” I responded, deliberately slowing down and sounding as pleasant as I could muster, “I understand that that’s what we ORDERED. What I am telling you is that that is not what we RECEIVED. These are not high-index lenses. They’re thicker than the lenses in her old glasses, which have REGULAR lenses and a stronger prescription, to boot.”

“Ma’am,” she said again, clearly much beleaguered by my apparent mental retardation, “the new frames are rimless on the bottom. That’s going to make the lenses APPEAR thicker than if they were hidden in a frame. That’s all it is.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s not correct,” I said. “I have both pairs of her glasses here. I have a ruler, as well. The new lenses are fully TWICE AS THICK as the old ones. It is not possible that these are high-index lenses. An error has been made. Yes, we ordered high-index. But these are not high-index.”

“Yes they are, ma’am,” she replied. “They’re definitely high-index.” I briefly pictured shoving one of the lenses in question deeply into her sinus cavities.

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s agree to disagree. These glasses come with a satisfaction guarantee. I am not satisfied, on account of I believe I paid for something we did not receive, and also I’ve seen bullet-proof glass which is thinner than this. How do we resolve this matter?”

“Well, ma’am, you could call back at 10:00 tomorrow… that’s when the manager will be in. You could try talking to him. But we send all of the insurance glasses out to be made, so, we can’t fix it here.”

“That’s fine,” I said, “I’ll happily call back to talk to the manager. What’s his name, please?”

“His name is Phillip*, ma’am. He’ll be here at 10.”

I thanked her for her time and told her I’d call back.

This morning I called at 10:02 and a male voice answered the phone.

“Hello, CMS,” he said. “How may I help you?”

“Hi there, is this the manager?” I asked.

“No it’s not, can I help you with something?”

“Is the manager available, please?” I pressed.

“I’m sorry, he’s not. Can I help you?”

Oh, well. I’d just talk to this guy. I explained the situation, and damned if he didn’t start doing EXACTLY THE SAME ROUTINE of “no no they’re high index ma’am” as the previous woman had.

We went ’round a few times and then he started throwing in “based upon my 30 years of experience in this business” as his justification for his conviction that he’d hand-checked her glasses himself and they were JUST FINE BY GUM.

I silently counted to five and finally said, “Sir, we paid a lot of money for those glasses. I don’t want to argue with you about whether or not we got what we ordered; we can agree that we are not satisfied, yes? I would like to have them replaced with glasses with thinner lenses. Can we make that happen?” And let me tell you, even THAT was killing me because I really want SOMEONE to admit they screwed up. But I was being good and remembering the goal is to get it fixed, not to have morons who work at the mall see the error of their ways. So.

He offered to let me bring them back and they could send them out to be remade, but when I asked what assurance he could offer that they’d be done properly (thinner) this time, he all but laughed at me, saying that the vision insurance place handles it and he didn’t know what to tell me. Fine. I asked for the vision insurance’s phone number and told him that I’d like to call them, first, and that then I’d be happy to bring the glasses back to allow him to send them out to be made properly.

“Well that sounds like a good plan,” he said. “When you come on in feel free to ask for me, my name’s Phillip.”

Based upon his 30 years in the business, I should believe everything that Phillip says because Phillip is an asswipe who lied to me about being the store manager. But I’m SURE he wouldn’t lie to me about whether or not Chickie’s glasses were screwed up, right?

I’m waiting for a call back from the insurance. I predict that they, too, will be utterly convinced that I am stupid and blind and demanding. You know, on account of my unwillingness to pay for and accept something that was not what we ordered. I am such a PUSHY YANKEE!

*I have named the manager Phillip in this story because his name is actually Phillip. If any of my local peeps want to know which Crappy Mall Store to avoid, let me know. I’m only too happy to share every detail of their SUPER AWESOME customer service.


  1. meghann

    Well, you know, being in the South, you made a critical error. YOU called. Phillip was probably wondering who let you out of the kitchen.

    (totally jealous of the vision plan though. The military only covers one eye exam a year, no glasses or contacts.)

  2. Kelly

    I cringe just reading this. I think I have lived this conversation myself.

  3. elz

    Oh, Phillip, Bless his heart…that little rat fink liar. Going through the glasses/contacts roundabout was one reason I happily forked over the cash for Lasik a few years ago. Eyeglass places are huge rip-offs.

  4. Chris

    I can assure you, this is not a Southern thing. The same thing happens to me north of the Mason. Why people think they can give you exactly what you didn’t ask for and you should just roll over for it is beyond me.

  5. Leandra

    Hmmm…I wonder if that’s the same super crappy mall store where my mother recieved her un-excellent service. My mom actually ended writing the home office a VERY STERN letter. I’m sure they cared.

  6. Ani


    Sadly not a Southern thing. I had the salesperson at a car repair store in MA pull similar crap…complete with “well if I could just help you understand how metal parts wear…”

    DUDE. I have a degree in chemical engineering from a high- fallutin fancypants school. I can TELL YOU EXACTLY HOW METAL PARTS WEAR. Hmph. Now fix what you broke!

    I, too am a pushy Yankee. And proud of it.

    And I pink puffy heart Zenni, thanks to you! :-)

  7. loonytick

    As a Southern woman, I can promise you that (a) I would have gotten the same treatment and (b) I and most Southern women I know would have lit into him. Remember, Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women was a character conceived of by a Southern woman (Linda Bloodworth-Thomason), acted by a Southern woman (Dixie Carter) and beloved of Southern women.


    We may save it up, but we let it out from time to time.

  8. Rachel

    I don’t think it’s a southern thing, because I have had similar service here in North Dakota, no where near the south. = )

    I hope you get it straightened out soon!

  9. My Kids Mom

    elz has it right: “Phillip, bless his heart”- that’s a true southern lady talking now

  10. hokgardner

    I have had the worst time with CMS places, which is why I was so thrilled to discover Zenni last summer. I bought two pairs of glasses and one pair of sunglasses for about a third of what I’d paid for my last one pair of glasses, which broke a month later and couldn’t be replaced because they no longer carried that model.

    I can’t wait to hear how this resolves.

  11. Burgh Baby

    And THAT is why I now buy 2-3 pairs of glasses from Zenni each year instead of dealing with the local stores. They are inexpensive enough for me to not care if I don’t love a certain pair.

  12. Rini

    I’m a pushy Southerner. And anyone who wants to complain about it can just… well, it wouldn’t be ladylike to share what they can do, but it is NOT PLEASANT!

  13. Randi

    Oh, see, now, you have gotten some politeness from the south, because once he had said his name was Phillip, my butt would’ve made sure to let him know that the associate had said he was the manager!!

  14. Dawn

    Oh, don’t get me started on my crappy optical store experience. It still makes my blood boil.

    Can’t WAIT to hear how this story plays out.

    Also: There are a pair of Southern ladies who are still shuddering from their experience talking to me. I think the further north you go, the faster people talk. I think I frightened them.

  15. M

    You have just explained why I talk a full 3/4 less than I normally do when visiting my in-laws in GA. I’m from NY.
    When they met me they said “You’re awful nice for a Yankee.”

    This also helps explain why my wonderful husband assumes that I’m picking a fight or being nasty when I disagree with him. But I fell in love with partly because he kept saying “Yes ma’am” to me in a completely enduring, non-condescending way while we were dating.

    Good luck with getting what you paid for!

  16. Charise

    Ugh … I hate the eye doctor! This year, even with my pretty good insurance, my frames, lenses, and contact lenses cost me almost $500. Oh, and that’s just for 6 months of contacts. And this after my 7-10 day wait for glasses went by and calls were answered with “well, 7-10 days really means 10 business days, which is 2 weeks”. WHEN IT HAD BEEN MORE THAN 2 WEEKS. And then 3 and 4 weeks, at which point someone finally called the lab and found out my frames were backordered. And then after 5 weeks, they were further backordered, so it was recommended I come in to pick out a different frame. So in all, it took 7+ weeks to get new glasses when my prescription had doubled in the 15 months since I’d gotten new lenses so I had to wear my contacts all. the. time.

    Gah, all this to say, oh, do I feel your pain on this one!

  17. Kristen

    I, too, cringe when I read this. I am a licensed optician and have worked at a CMS or two. I’m not at all defending the people with whom you dealt; they handled your situation quite poorly. But I have to say that the lens might indeed have been high-index. There are several reasons why a high-index lens might actually be thicker than a regular plastic lens, not the least of which is that it was in a semi-rimless frame. Again, I’m not defending the CMS. There’s no question they should have handled the situation much differently. I could go on an on about what they should have done, but instead I’ll just apologize on behalf of all CMS employees.

  18. dcfullest

    Next time, check out this place if zenni and CLS don’t work out: http://www.eyebuydirect.com
    I have never paid more than $30 for everything, including lenses.

  19. Mara

    This is not Southern/Northern, just plain bad customer service. I hope chickie gets her perfect glasses soon!

  20. Tracy

    Well, if you were in Cajun country, you would have saved the phone calls and made a face to face call. It’s amazing what you accomplish face to face. Raising alittle cajun hell never hurt either.

  21. Crista

    I’ve been meaning to ask you how your Zenni lenses have held up. DH agreed to to order his glasses online last year, but *refused* to let me order them from Zenni because he “heard bad things” about them. Well, his supposedly wonderful site sold us glasses with lenses that got all cloudy and scratched up within months. Now he refuses to buy online. I priced out a pair of “transitions” lenses (change to sunglasses and back) at Costco and he can get his high-index transitions lenses and frames for $200. Did I have a point here? Oh yeah, I’m still thinking of Zenni for myself and am wondering how your lenses have fared over time.

  22. jwg

    If your insurance allows, next time try Sears. I’ve been buying glasses there for years. Good guarantee, good service. I have eyes that change according to my blood sugar, and wear trifocals. Last time they made them over because my doctor got it wrong, and didn’t charge.

  23. Katie in MA

    I need new prescription sunglasses and have been putting it off for years because I didn’t want the hassle. Hmmm…I could probably make it through one more summer without, right?

  24. Daisy

    Reminds me a bit of the service we got when my teen was a baby and we were getting his vision problems (congenital blindness!) diagnosed. The clerk at the optical center was really rude to use because we had coverage through the state’s version of Medical Assistance. I mentioned our troubles to the eye doc at our next appt.; I hear he gave her an earful himself.

  25. laura F

    Oh, Phillip. Bless his heart.

  26. lizneust

    This happened to me not 4 months ago, and I live in Boston. The clerk swore upside down and sideways that the reason my glasses felt funny was because I was adjusting to the astigmatism prescription – which I’ve had for the last 10 years. He insisted they were made correctly – perhaps it was the new shape of the frames. Finally I made a VERY big stink about someone going back there and looking at the lenses to make sure they’d been filled correctly.

    He didn’t even have the guts to look me in the eye when he came back. Someone had swapped the right/left lenses and that was why the world looked wonky. The eye-glass-in-an-hour is woefully lacking in decent and knowledgeable customer service.

  27. Marsh

    You won’t believe this, but about a year ago I being sold glasses, and what I kept thinking was “I wonder what Mir would do?” I honestly felt like I was being ripped off, but part of me believed the sales pitch. I still don’t know if the extras are worth it. So, thanks for letting me know what you would do. I opted for the $250 “free” glasses. I think you are amazing.

  28. Jill

    Dude. I am a southern lady. Down to my soul, born and raised. And I would not put up with that crap.

    And Phillip? Well, bless his heart.

  29. Karen

    I’de say a personal visit to PHillip is called for here. Then from one Yankee to another… I say let him have it.

    I talk fast too, it’s a forever thing, Mir.

  30. Anna

    Well, I do know what you mean about bluntness and such. I come from Stepford Land, and moved to Colorado. I generally prefer it, but when I go back to Stepford, it’s kinda nice.

  31. meghann

    Crista-my dad and his wife have been using Zenni for a few years now and they’ve never had any problems.

  32. Brigitte

    Ooh, I guess we’ve gotten off lucky with our CMS service! But we do never fail to be amazed at how expensive our “free” glasses are.

  33. Miss Shell

    Oh, honey, this is the least of the reasons why you will never be a Southern lady. A Southern lady knows the wisdom in keeping her mouth shut while listening to the other party go on, sometimes at great length, about how right they are because she knows that doing so is a way to gather information. That information is then stored up and used as ammunition to neatly blow gigantic holes in the other party’s argument. Without raising her voice, she will get not only a sincere admission of guilt, but also an apology. As for the habit of speaking fast, it has been my experience that most people who engage in this habit do so as a way to squeeze more of their own words into a conversation, in a effort to more effectively cram their opinions down your throat. When you pair that with an irritating Yankee accent full of harsh consonants, it is no wonder you put those poor, stupid, Southerners on edge.

  34. Annie Mouse

    I am a Southern woman.

    I speak quickly.

    I speak my mind.

    I do not let anyone run roughshod over me.

    I do not draw sweeping generalisations about cultures outside of my own.

    There is a reason we are known as “steel magnolias.” We are unfailingly polite, but no way is someone going to talk down to me when I know, without a doubt, that the person in question is wrong. However, I can do so without resorting to being rude.

    I become rude because it is inevitably much more fun that way, and all of my grandparents have passed, so I am not doing damage to them by speaking my piece.

  35. Amelia

    Oh, Phillip, bless his heart! He’s just dumb as a sack of rocks and thinks you are, too!

    I have lived in Mississippi my whole life. Don’t let the sugarcoating fool you, Mir. We may say it with a sweet accent, but we can tell somebody to kiss our grits with the best of ’em. Thing is, we often ask lots of “dumb” questions first and wait until after they have given us all the information we need to make them look like fools. When a northern woman does that, she’s called a yankee. When I do it, I’m called a bitch. And I’m ok with that.

    I *would* suggest going in person next time you have a problem like this. Not that you are asking for advice. And not that you want to go alllll the way out there. But you will be able to read the people better and will likely get more information if you do.

  36. Aimee

    What REALLY made this for me — because, you know, as a rule that degree of incompetence, especially when directed at someone I like, makes my eyelids twitch — is your *. THat is awesome. Suck it, Phillip!

  37. DixieChick

    Oh, this is my life all over. I live in RURAL Georgia, and I feel your pain. Not once in my life elsewhere (you know, anywhere but in the south) have I called myself “Dr…”. I think it’s silly, arrogant, and misplaced when I’m not at work. But down here, I feel as though it’s the only way I can get people beyond the “why honey, do you even KNOW what you’re talking about” attitude. Please do share this store’s name. Please. Just so I can make sure I never go there. Ever.

  38. Little Bird

    See, this whole story, AND the comments remind me of this old joke about three southern women. I’m sure everybody knows it. It revolves around the statment “Well that’s nice!” If you can find someone to deliver the entire joke in a southern accent, it’s even better!!
    As to the glasses, I get readers (I pay about $60 per frame) and have my prescription put into them, and the lenses cost about $80ish. This way I get fun, bright glasses and don’t have to pay outrageous prices. My current pair are bright orange and hot pink. I get comments on them EVERY DAY.

  39. Flea

    I squishy heart Zenni. Totally.

  40. Jenn

    Based on your writing and the stories my sister has told me about living in North Carolina, I have come to the conclusion that I would not make a good Southern woman.

    (Do you know what still makes me laugh? That post a long time ago about the repairman who came to fix your washing machine and kept calling you “Mrs. Otto” repeatedly.”

  41. Cindy

    That sucks. Does misery love company? My son is on his FIFTH pair of glasses in less than 18 months and my insurance has no vision coverage at all. We bought the first pair from the local CEP (crappy eyeglass place) and they broke in less than 24 hours. I had one of THOSE conversations with the staff whereby I was assured that the best thing was to just chuck up the money for another set of the same frames. (because that would save me the cost of new lenses) What I could NOT make them understand is that it makes no sense to buy yet another frame that is obviously so delicate it has no chance of withstanding a 10yo boy. Not even for 24 hours. I paid more for the first pair than I did the next four combined. (and they lasted longer than 24 hours)

  42. bonuela

    i’ve skipped a few days here and lost track. imagine my horror reading this expecting a love thursday post. i kept waiting and waiting and there’s no love for the cms or poor polite, but wrong phillip….slinking off to read the next blog.

  43. Belinda

    I propose that you are associating with the WRONG SOUTHERN LADIES. Because anyone in my neck of the woods would’ve had someone’s tail in a knot by now.

  44. jenni

    All the comments on this post were a hoot to read! :)

  45. Susan K

    I’m sorry, I didn’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if this has been suggested, but if this is a chain, I highly recommend contacting the corporate headquarters and write this all out, including the fact that he lied to you about being the manager. I would bet you will have a totally different experience with Phillip after that, one with a lot of apologizing and nice glasses.

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