I went to pick up my new glasses on Saturday.
I've needed new ones for a long time, but I couldn't bring myself to get them until the last week of the year, and only then, because we had $2,000 left in one of those "use it or lose" health spending accounts. DH thought I was going to end up with a wardrobe of frames; he's still a bit stunned that I spent the rest of the account on two pairs. I got a pair of driving glasses for distance, and going against the advice of every optometrist and ophthalmologist I've ever seen, I also got a pair of glasses with progressive lenses instead of my usual reading glasses. I was really excited about the progressives in spite of the optometrist's warning that they were hard for many people to get used to, and that they'd be particularly difficult for me because I have an eye disease that's caused some damage in my central vision. My brain compensates by making undamaged parts of my eyes dominant (the good bits override the bad), but progressives lenses require you to look through specific parts of the lens to see distance, up close, and in between. The driving glasses were $600, which meant I had $1400 to burn. I decided to ignore the doctor and try the progressives anyway.
DH has to help me choose frames because I'm too blind to see how they look. I got my normal thin wire frames for the driving glasses, but I let him talk me into darker tortoise shell frames for the progressives. He said they make me look like Lisa Loeb, which I'm not sure is a complement, but I decided to take it as one anyway!
I wore the Lisa Loeb glasses out of the shop and went to the Borders across the street. I don't much care for Borders, but if I am near a bookstore, it is a sure bet that I'm going in! I was immediately reminded of why I don't care for Borders – they nearly always have a HUGE store, and maybe three or four shelves, total, of decent books. The front of the store had what appeared to be an entire "bestsellers" wall devoted to the latest Dean Koontz, which sucked (I read it in December), and a bunch of self-help (thank you, but Joel Osteen is not my cup of tea). I wandered through the rest of the store, hunting the fiction section, which I found near the back; all four shelves of it.
The fiction section, or rather "literature" as it is called in Borders, was a huge disappointment. It appeared to contain volume after volume of Candace Bushnell and fake Jane Austen sequels. Hmmmm. I chose a hardcover I hadn't heard of called "The River Wife" and went back to the front of the store to see if I could spot the remainders. I was reluctant to spend any more on hardcovers that I wasn't keen on reading and I thought there might be something from the recent past that I'd missed.
I was still wearing the Lisa Loeb glasses, and as everyone had predicted, I was having trouble finding the right spots to look through to read the spines, but being mule-headed, I squinted rather than taking them off. DH joined me then and he started hunting for the remainders section too.
We were approached by a salesperson who asked if she could help us. That's when I discovered my new glasses have special powers. It's either that, or the salesperson was … um … a moron, but being kind, I'll attribute her behaviour to my glasses!
"Do you have a section for bargain books?" I asked.
She looked confused.
She frowned, clearly struck dumb (and I don't mean in the way of silence) by my Lisa Loeb glasses.
"You know," I said, "books that are a bit past their 'sell by date'?"
She sniffed. "We don't carry used books!"
I pushed up my glasses, trying, and failing, to find the right spot to look through so I could see her properly and I pointed at the wall of Dean Koontz. "See that thousand books over there? All those copies are never going to sell because that book is crap. What do you do with the books that don’t sell because the buyer ordered too many copies?"
"I don't know," she said. "I think we send them back."
Borders constantly cries about how tough conditions are and how they aren't doing well and might have to go out of business. If all their stores are depending on overbuying crappy books and sending them back to make a profit, then it's no surprise they're having problems. If they go out of business, in my opinion, it's no great loss.