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Picture it.

2018.  Applebee’s in the mall.

My girlfriend has forgotten her reading glasses.  This is nothing new.

But as I looked out across the mall from the restaurant window, I spied with my little eye a Hallmark store.  Surely they have reading glasses.  You can get them for a couple of bucks at the Dollar Store.  Most pharmacies.  Wal-Mart.  The list goes on.

We were still waiting for another couple so I opined, “I wonder if the Hallmark store would have reading glasses?”

The granddaughter of another couple dining with us assured me that they do.

I asked my girlfriend, “Do you want me to get you some glasses?  Or should I read you the menu?”

So I was off for glasses!

Quest

I entered the Hallmark Store.  I was slightly distracted by a display of Penn State paraphernalia, but I resisted the urge to buy something blue and white which is not used for reading and instead headed directly to the clerk behind the cash register.

“Do you sell reading glasses?”

She informed me they do not.  She was sorry.  (Didn’t look sorry if you ask me.) But apparently life sucks sometimes.

Now it just so happens that there is a Lens Crafters optical shop next door.  As an eye surgeon who owns his own optical dispensary, I had a vague anxiety about entering this establishment.  I feared a patient of mine would see me and then wonder why I was shopping for glasses at a competitor’s store.

But my alternative is to return to Applebee’s defeated and without the glasses.  I would not be defeated!

Len Crafters does not sell over-the-counter reading glasses.  Even our optical shop sells OTC cheater readers.

I exited the store dejected.  I tried to sort through my options, but I kept thinking of that Penn State stuff I saw in Hallmark.  I could drive home, which is closer than driving to my optical shop.  That just smelled of loser right there.

I looked up and saw Sears.  Could they?  Would they?

A clerk sent me to Sears Optical.  They don’t sell them either!

“Why not,” I asked incredulously.

“Because you can buy them at any pharmacy, or Target.”

Well that’s a fine how-do-you-do.  Let’s just leave the fate of the presbyopic world to the Targets and Wal-Marts.

As I turned away in defeat, a thought occurred to me.  Maybe a bookstore would have reading glasses.  “Is there a bookstore that might sell reading glasses?”

Her eyes lit up.  “Yes.  Barnes & Noble’s has them.”

Now gentle reader, I fully know you don’t know where I am–other than a Sears Optical which could be located in any mall anywhere.  So let me enlighten you.  This mall does not have a Barnes & Noble.  The mall across town closer to my office has a Barnes & Noble.

Trying desperately not to strangle this woman, I asked through clenched teeth, “Is there any bookstore in THIS mall?”

She thinks for a moment.  “There’s a Walden Books.  Here on the first floor.  But I don’t know if they are still in business.”

I am defeated.  Just for the record, the First National Bank besides Sears doesn’t sell reading glasses either.

I walk the walk of shame back towards Applebee’s with no glasses in hand when the granddaughter catches up with me.  Apparently they were all watching as I went from store to store.

“Why didn’t you buy them in Hallmark?” she asked me.

“The lady told me they don’t sell them.”

Apparently, granddaughter, being a teenager, KNOWS the mall.

We head back to the Hallmark store.  She shows me a basket in the back filled with reading glasses.  Cue the heavenly music.  The basket is virtually glowing.  I’m glowing.

I put the glasses down by the register and the woman who told me they didn’t sell them looked at me in astonishment and asked, “where did you get these?”

“Not from Sears optical.  Or the bank.  Back there.”  I point.  We all look.  “In a basket.”

She looked at them in disbelief.

But I’m on this.  “So since you don’t actually sell reading glasses, I suppose I can just take these without paying?”

She laughed.  Ka-ching!  Palmed those glasses into a bag more deftly than David Copperfield could make the Statue of Liberty disappear.

“That’ll be $24.95.”

“Are you kidding me?  We sell them for less.  You can get them in the Dollar Store for a buck or two.”

“Do you want these?”

I can’t believe I just paid a store almost $25 for something they don’t even sell.

But the Quest was a success!

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