“That’s a fail,” the woman behind the counter at the Drive Test Centre says cheerfully to the young man standing at the wicket, as he lifts his eyes from the vision tester.
The teenager protests, saying he’s never had to wear glasses and can spot hot girls from across the football field, in fact hey what is the woman doing on Saturday night?
“Failing people,” the mother of four responds, deadpan. “And glasses won’t fix your problem. Looking through your Facebook profile – you should really tighten up your privacy settings – I can see quite clearly that when it comes to social justice issues and making a reasonable assessment of the predicament of those less fortunate than yourself, you are legally blind.”
In an epidemic the magnitude of which is only beginning to be understood, vision experts say they now believe that privilege is responsible for more sight problems than glaucoma, macular degeneration, and BB guns combined.
“It’s so ingrained it is difficult to measure, but may affect as many as pretty much everyone in certain sections of society,” says Dr. Kevin Brown, one of the foremost researchers into the malady.
“It is especially pernicious because the affected person thinks they are seeing the world as it is, but instead are viewing a reality that holds their lives up favourably, and judges others as simply not trying hard enough. This can lead to such ill affects as underfunding inner-city programs; prioritizing the profit margins of small business over providing a living wage; and wilfully speaking over an important, and necessary social movements.”
Back at the Drive Test Centre young Nathaniel is upset. After a number of pointed back-and-forths in which he fails to see the importance of having his vision corrected before he is put in charge of a motor vehicle, and eventually an adult life, he throws his arms in the air in exasperation.
“Well how the hell am I going to pass this test then?”
The Drive Test worker pushes a small pamphlet across the desk at him and then asks him to move along as there are people waiting behind him. Outside the building Nathaniel opens the book to assess what he is up against. There are twenty-five pages, each one with one line of text, which reads:
“Open your eyes.”