Iris Eisenstein decided to get to work a little early. The mall was quiet. It would be a few hours before the shoppers filled the carpeted walkways of the Southtownridgewaydale Mall. She unlocked and rolled up the gate on The Sight Hut. She reviewed her appointment calendar, tidied up the displays, checked on back stock and orders, reviewed the employee schedule, and listened to voicemails. She breathed a sigh of relief. No emergencies.
She knew it was too early to get a hold of her old mentor, Retina Turner, but she was too excited. She left a message, "When can we have lunch? I've got that new occluder catalog!" That would get her attention.
The "occluder catalog" was a running joke with them. Occluders sounded like sophisticated medical devices. Instead, they were the paddles that looked like large, flattened spoons. Patients used them to block either eye while reading a sight chart. Of course, closing one eye wouldn't work; the squinting would distort the view. And holding your hand over one eye was just an invitation to cheat. Only aging truck drivers tried to cheat eye exams, but she didn't have many of those at the mall. The occluder catalog was pretty limited. They came in two styles: white, and white with a cartoon face, which made little sense since the patient used the occluder to blind one eye at a time. Dr. Eisenstein and Dr. Turner were planning to get rich and retire with the sales of designer occluders.
Besides, it was fun to say occluder. There were so many excellent words in her field: skiascopic lens rack, lensometers, snipe nose pliers (so fun at office parties), and of course the sphygmomanometers. She didn't really need those in the office. Most people could just use the one down by the pharmacy if they wanted their blood pressure, but she liked telling people that she might have to use the sphygmomanometer. Blood pressure can be an early indicator of diseases like diabetes, which can result in vision loss.
Eisenstein was really looking forward to working with her new partner, Pupil Lashay. She and her last partner hadn't seen see eye to eye. Lashay knew it was time to take the blinders off and move on.
For the rest of the day, Eisenstein felt more like an office manager than a doctor. She talked to her bookkeeper for an hour or so, trying to sort out problems with insurance forms. Most insurance only covered one exam a year and basic prescriptions and frames. It was more important that she develop a relationship with her patients so they might rely on her for additional services.
Ima Highbrow was her 9am appointment. She was a long-time patient and customer. She was coming in to pick up her new glasses. Eisenstein pulled out the glasses from a little tray behind the counter and checked them once more for any flaws. As she carefully cleaned them, she made small talk with Ima. Her new glasses were trifocals and she'd paid extra for progressives, the kind without dividing lines. A tricky prescription. The doctor adjusted the nose pads and arms and watched as her customer looked in a mirror, trying to see if she could see herself looking good.
"I think you made the right choice with those rimless frames. The last pair looked great, but were heavy, weren't they?"
"And that geek look has come and gone, according to my hair stylist."
"Well those Chanels look good on anyone but I think they make your eyes look brighter."
"I think so, too," she said as she craned her neck, looking around the room, testing the new lenses.
An hour later, Ima decided she loved them and ordered a second pair as well as another pair of sunglasses with the same prescription.
After she left, the doctor sighed with relief. That paid the bills for a few days at least.
She strolled out to the front of the store, re-straightening the displays. She didn't have much choice about the layout or selection. Being a franchise owner was both good and bad. She didn't have to worry about marketing too much. The name of the store made it easy for customers to find online. She already had the right mix of affordable and luxury models, as well as the latest styles for trendy kids and teens. Now that teenagers were starting to wear chunky black frames with no prescriptions at all, sales had been good. She knew the trend wouldn't last forever, so keeping up with corporate research was crucial. And the little kids loved the Spongebob and Little Mermaid models. Having books and bean bag chairs in the kids' area was her idea—it gave them something to do while Mom or Dad had their eyes checked. The kids' corner also gave them a comfortable area to try on new pairs of glasses without feeling self-conscious.
She stopped to chat with a guy looking at the Oakleys. "Those are really popular with wind surfers," she said. She'd noticed the young man's t-shirt with the sail on it.
"Oh yeah, that's what I'm looking for. I've heard these wraparounds are good, but I was looking for the ones with the tiny windshield wipers on them."
"We can order those for you but, to be honest, these newer models have a special coating. Water just rolls right off them. Here, let's see how they look."
She watched as he tried them on.
"These are pretty cool. How much are they?"
"Hang on a second and I'll check. Do you have insurance? Let's go back to the counter and see what I can find."
Once he was sitting in front of a mirror, she looked up the prices but she also pulled out a tiny spray bottle and towel with the Oakley logo and set them in front of the customer.
"Here, try out the water proofing. It's really cool."
Half an hour later, she finished writing up his order and handed him his copy. "See you in about 10 days. I can't wait to see how you like them."
After lunch she interviewed an applicant for a vacant part-time position. She was ready to hire the guy before they even met. Ira Glass was studying for his D.O. and his GPA showed that he took his studies seriously. She was happy with the high schoolers and stay-at-home moms she had on staff. In hindsight, she learned they weren't great salespeople. The ones with good fashion sense were important and she loved working with them, but another expert on board was what she really needed.
She went with her gut and offered him the job. He was happy to have it. He even asked to work on the same days she was in so he could learn more. Perfect. As long as she started to get a few Saturdays to herself, she could finally hang out with her softball team again.
At 9pm she was worn out. She ran her end-of-day reports and was happy to see she'd made enough to cover the rent and the cost of her new employee.
By 10pm she was finally home and got some well-earned shut-eye.