Friday, December 16, 2005

The Case of the Missing Glasses

I used to wear glasses for near-sightedness. Now that I'm in my fifties, my eyes have made dramatic changes. I no longer wear glasses to see far distances. I can read things from afar that used to be nothing but a blur. The downside to it is that I now need reading glasses. My up-close vision used to be incredible. Alas, no more.

In the mid-nineties, I worked for a company called Southern Wine & Spirits. It's the largest supplier of alcoholic beverages in the country. I worked for the on-premise division, as opposed to the off-premise one. The difference between the two is that on-premise is alcohol consumed on the property, such as a bar or restaurant and off premise is a liquor store or supermarket where you can't drink it there. I designed and implemented wine lists found in restaurants. The rule was that if we supplied the majority of wines over the competitors' selections, we got to do the list. That meant sitting around sampling various bottles in expensive wine glasses and cleansing our palates with 25 dollar cigars between tastings. I know, it was tough and I was getting paid to drink on the job. Next time you peruse an exquisite wine list, remember someone had that awful task of writing the descriptions. You know, soft buttery notes with hints of fresh apricots and plums, with a light, crisp, cinnamon finish that lingers in the mouth.

I also did specialty drink cards of microbrew beers and liquors we supplied. The kind you might find in establishments that cater to the college crowd. They always seemed to like those concoctions. Still do. They were called table toppers or T-tents. They'd fit inside those plastic things that sit at tables or on bars. Some were just paper folded in the shape of a triangle.

Most of these things I sent out to a commercial printer. It all depended on the size of the establishment and the quantities they needed. For some of the smaller jobs, we had a big and fancy copier that jammed all the time.

One morning, I went up to the copier with my master printout of a job and the fancy colored paper I'm going to print it on. Yup, just like that, it jams. At this time, I'm still wearing glasses for being near-sighted. I open the doors to expose the mechanisms of the copier to find the jam. I had to take my glasses off to see up close. I find the problem, fix it, close the doors and go about my printing job. The rest of the day, I'm working on other things. I had a project that needed to be delivered the next morning, so I stayed well into the night. When I went to leave, I couldn't find my glasses. I never had to wear them as I sat in front of the computer. I can't see well enough to drive home without them, certainly not at night, anyway. What am I going to do? I look everywhere. I retrace every step of the day. There was a district manager still working. It was just the two of us and she started to help look. We couldn't find them anywhere. I remembered taking them off at the copier, but they weren't there. I didn't remember if I'd worn them elsewhere. Well, she had to go home but didn't want to leave me stranded. She had two offers. She would give me a ride or loan me her pair of prescription sunglasses. Her eyes were very similar to mine. I opted for the glasses. I'm glad it was dark. If anyone saw me in those girly things, I would have died. Unfortunately, I did have to wear them to work in the morning. It seemed like everyone was staring at me. I probably looked like a young version of Truman Capote.

I stopped at one of those one hour eyeglass centers. I had an eye examination done and picked out my frames. My eyes were so dilated driving back to work, if I had been stopped by a cop, he would have arrested me for driving under the influence of something illicit. The light was so intensely bright, too. A couple of hours later, I picked them up and I was back in business. The new and improved Dave, with a new prescription and brand new expensive glasses.

Two weeks later, I'm sitting at my desk when this woman who works in accounting, I can't remember her name but she was very nice, walks into my office with her hands behind her back.

"Dave, didn't you lose your glasses a couple of weeks ago?"

"Yes, why?"

She brought her hands out in front of her holding - you guessed it - my old glasses. She explained that the copier tech had come by earlier for routine maintenance and when he opened the doors, resting on a small ledge inside the copier, there they sat, neatly folded.

As you can clearly see, that wasn't one of my most brilliant moments. I tried to be more focused after that.

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