I CAN’T FUNCTION WITHOUT THEM – NOW WHAT?
When my wife and I are driving from there to somewhere on an automobile trip, we like to slow the pace down by traveling back roads. A few years ago, we left the Interstate highway in Utah and slowed to our satisfaction traveling from small town to small town, when, without warning, disaster struck. I sat on my glasses! I had left them on the car seat when we left the car to walk around town. My glasses were useless. I am not functional without them – now what?
We saw a Drugstore on the corner of the street we parked on. We walked to the Drugstore and asked if there was an Optometrist in town. The clerk directed us down the street a short way. The clerk said we would find one there. I went and I did. Once there, the store front looked as though it was there for a long time, but, it was open for business. I introduced myself to the elderly Optometrist and showed my bent glasses to him. He looked at the glasses in my hand and promptly told me he would try to help me if he could. He explained his eyes and hands were not what they used to be and he may not be able to fix my glasses. Together, I assured him, we’ll get the job done. What else could I say? I did not have much choice.
We entered his office and sat down at his desk. While he gathered his tools, I looked around the office. The floor was covered with a shag rug and the area around and beneath his desk littered with cast-off lenses. Anything dropped on the floor was gone forever; you would never find it on the rug. Great! But neither of us seemed in a great hurry. We spent some time getting acquainted. In response to one of my questions, he informed me he served the Eighth Air Force in England as a Weatherman during WW II. Prediction of weather over targets selected for bombing was his responsibility. I am of the belief correct prediction of the target weather was vital to successful WW II bombardment. Nothing good happened if the target weather was bad. I expressed my sincere thanks for his WW II service, as is my custom when I find a WW II Veteran.
My new friend did not have much trouble bending the frame of my glasses back into proper shape. But the re-assembly of the glasses did not go well at all. My friend’s hands shook such he could not start the tiny screws in the holes of the frame. He expressed his frustration over the situation and asked what I wanted to do. He was unable to finish the job. I offered to do the re-assembly if we could find some way to overcome my bad eyesight. We were stumped and then I got the brilliant idea of getting my wife’s glasses to go ahead to a successful outcome. I quickly found my wife’s glasses were not going to work for me unless I held them a distance longer than my nose from my face. If you were a fly on the office wall, you would see the elderly Optometrist holding my wife’s glasses in his shaking hand and me, frame in one hand, screwdriver in the other, trying to get the screws started without dropping them. Somehow, against great odds favoring failure, we succeeded in re-assembling my glasses. We were both relieved. I asked for his fee and he promptly refused to name a fee on the basis he felt he could not complete the job without my help. I protested earnestly and he relented and accepted a token amount. Before we parted, I thanked him again for his wartime service and for fixing my glasses. I left with the feeling that something very special had occurred in my life. Like so many of our WW II veterans, the elderly Optometrist is most likely gone now. In my opinion, he served his country well and deserves his honorable rest.
My wife and I remember with great fondness the many pleasant encounters we had during our visits to small towns along our way. We make it a point to visit the town museum, eat at a local restaurant, shop locally, admire the homes and, if the opportunity presents, meet the persons living in them. We have talked to many people who have interesting stories to tell. We firmly believe our lives are enriched by our visits to small towns and meeting those who make them special places. All it takes is the will to slowdown and smell the flowers. A good map helps too.