Saturday, May 1, 2021

Still Life with Robin: Apex of Kindness

by Peggy Robin

There are lots and lots of small businesses in Cleveland Park, Tenleytown, Woodley Park and the other commercial centers frequented by readers of this listserv, and we know that many of them have earned the deep and lasting loyalty of their customers. I'm about to tell a story of one of them -- Apex Optical -- that has long been high on the most-loved list of neighborhood businesses. But here’s my special reason for showing Apex some love.

My story starts out in Potomac, Maryland, where my mother, age 97 (just about to turn 98), lives in an assisted living residence. She wears bifocal glasses with a strong prescription, but a few days ago when I came to visit, I noticed she was not wearing them. And I also know that reading the New York Times each morning is one of her daily rituals that she has been able to keep up, despite increasing infirmities and limitations of age. Reading the paper, and reading books, too, is one of her few remaining pleasures. But it’s something that can’t be enjoyed without glasses.

“Where are your glasses?” I asked.

“Here,”  she said, producing them from her purse. As soon as I saw the frames, I noticed the empty space where the lenses were supposed to be.

“Where are the lenses?”

“They fell out.”

“Yes, I see that, but where are they?”

“I looked for them but I couldn't find them.”

“Well, of course you couldn't find them. You can't see anything without your glasses! Wouldn't one of the aides help you find them?”

The answer to that was no, and don't get me started on why that would be the case. I don’t have the space or the inclination to go into all the ramifications of that “no”. Let’s move on.

Suffice to say, after I asked the aides at the house to look for the missing lenses, they promised to check her room thoroughly and call when the lenses were found. There was a limited search area where the lenses could be, and it should have been possible for anyone with good eyesight to find them. Due to the covid restrictions, I was not allowed out of the visiting room to go and look for them myself.

The next morning I got a call from an aide who told me the lenses had been found. I drove out to the house in Potomac where the lenses and the empty frames were waiting for me in a marked envelope.

I supposed I could have taken the broken glasses to any optician in Potomac for repair. That might have been faster and more efficient. But I like Apex, and I’ve bought a number of pairs of glasses there over the years. It made sense to me to call and see if they could do the repair. That way, if it wasn’t something they could do right away, wouldn't be stuck waiting around; I could go home and get some work done.

So I called ahead and described the problem. I did tell them that the job was for my 97-year-old mother in assisted living. They never even asked if she’s bought the glasses from them. They said, "Bring them in whenever you can." I drove straight there from Potomac, dropped off the glasses, and drove a short distance home.

About an hour later, I got a call. The glasses were fixed and ready to be picked up.

I arrived for the pickup and was cheerfully handed a brand new hard-sided glasses case with the glasses inside. I open the case, and there they were, shining like brand, better than they had ever looked brand-new. All clean and polished and tightly put together.

"What's the charge?" I said, happy to pay for the time and care they so obviously put into the job.

"No charge."

I only hope this story serves as payment for the work -- and their kindness -- in restoring the reading ability of a soon-to-be 98-year old, now able to enjoy the Sunday Times!


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.  .

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