How weird and wonderful people can both baffle and amaze you in equal measure.
A lovely gentleman came into the shop a while back. I was particularly impressed with this man's age. He was nearing the century mark and seemed in good health and spirits.
I booked this gentleman's appointment and saw him through to the testing room with the optician. Such a wonderful old man, I hope I am as upbeat as that if I even get that far!
He tried on lots of frames and decided on a neat pair of rimless frames with a decent varifocal lens with MAR coating. As you can see, I am becoming quite adept at shop-speak. Shop-speak is a particular talent I've always coveted and I appear to have grasped it quickly. Anyhow, the gentleman left the shop seemingly happy with his choice.
"Ready in two weeks. We'll call you" I said to the gentleman.
I telephoned the old man and he duly came into collect his shiny new pair of glasses. I asked him to try the frames on to see if the vision and comfort were to his satisfaction. He responded with an approving nod and smile.
"So that will be £165 to pay please sir."
"I will post a cheque to you."
"Ah okay, a cheque is fine sir. Would you like me to get you a pen?"
The old man smiled and said, "I will send it in the post to you in a few days."
Now given this man's age, I pretended to ignore what he was actually saying and chose instead to believe he would like to leave the glasses with us until we had received the cheque.
I kindly say, "Not a problem sir, a cheque is fine. We will just hold these for you until the payment has cleared." I smile.
One of my hands is now firmly on the glasses case. I have no idea why, I don't think he would be able to outrun me if he decided to get up. In fact, in order to get up the old man needed to perform a 20-minute five-stage manoeuvre. For some reason, I still felt a firm hand was necessary. I felt the old man grip the other side of the case with all the force he could muster. I felt like I was arguing with Montgomery Burns.
"Why don't you have any respect for me? Why don't you trust me? Opticians always allow me to take the glasses and send a cheque. I will take these glasses now and send a cheque in the post!"
Try to place yourself in my position. Either this lovely old man is in an advanced stage of dementia or he is trying it on with me, using that veil of venerability and deference as some sort of ruse to obtain his glasses for nowt. No matter how old this man was, and how much i liked the strange chap, I was not having any of it and embarrassingly I descended into the lowest known form of the English language…shop diplomacy.
"I am very sorry sir but it is not our policy to hand out glasses without first receipt of full payment."
(I have no idea where such phrases come from. I think it is that half of the brain that the world's best brain scientists have not yet managed to conquer.)
"Well, if you have no trust for your best patients (this nutty old man had been a patient with us for all of two weeks) then I will go elsewhere! I demand to have a copy of my prescription! I will go elsewhere! What is your name? I demand to see your manager about this!"
This strange and wonderful man had just made my day.