It's closing time. The optician who works at my local eye doctor's office is really tall, cool, and confident. 

Some dude walks in from the street. He says, "I need these new lenses from these old glasses to replace these old lenses in these new glasses." And he dumps a bunch of lenses and glasses clanking on the counter. 

The optician swiftly assesses them and says, "Let's see what we can do." He cradles the pile, disappears back into his little room, and he's back in exactly twenty-two and a half seconds.

The dude's mouth just drops open -- he's looking down into his hands at this perfectly fitted pair of glasses that are sparkling in the fluorescent light.

"Free of charge," says the optician. 

Then he puts on a pair of dark sunglasses, throws a cigarette in his mouth, and disappears out, out into the night.


I walk across the bridge to Maspeth to pick up a UPS package in hand.

Wide yard lit with tall flood lights, trucks going in and out of the warehouses and returning from their shifts. A vast line of folks has formed waiting for the pickups, and a single UPS lady is there taking zip codes and phoning the drivers directly. Customers are the worst. She's managing a tense situation. And she's doing it in stride, with a sense of humor, and watching the fire code, too.

As I walk up to her to surrender my zip code, she is accosted by an irate middle aged gentleman. He's well-dressed with a touch of elf, as they say. 

He says to her, "I know this is likely not your problem, but this is the worst system I have ever seen in my life. In my life! Simply the worst! You should all be ashamed of yourselves!"

"I've been to the Soviet Union!" he says, "I've been to the *Soviet Union* and the system those people have over there is far superior to *this*. I've been here for an hour and a half. It's hard to believe this is New York City, it is unbelievable!"

And then he scuttles off without his package, and it starts drizzling a bit, gloomily for him. 

"I've been to the Soviet Union too," I tell her, "Their system is only okay."

"I've been there too!" yells some tall Eastern European guy behind us. 

My socialist comrade and I receive our packages forthwith, and the rain starts coming down and soaking and soaking us. It's October, after all. 

I suppose the moral of the story is that you should always have an umbrella when you're carting a large quantity of water-activated *anything*.