Dear Joan


Dear Joan,

Thank you.  Even though I had never met you before, and I don’t expect to see you again, you made my day today.

I am the woman in Costco Optical who was standing in front of cases of frames, forlorn, perplexed, indecisive…inadequate.  Still coming to grips with the transition from contacts to glasses.

And there you were: an older woman wearing black tights, an herringbone skirt and black turtleneck, your elegantly coiffed hair framing a face as beautiful today as it was fifty years ago.  Everything about you reflected exquisite taste.  Your deep-set eyes told me that kindness was spiraled into your DNA. 

“Would you mind giving me your opinion?” I appealed, looking as helpless as I felt.  You smiled your assent and we got straight to work.  Which ones have you tried?…Let’s see that one again…No, that’s too harsh….Oh, I really like those!Yes, those are very nice.  You voiced your responses freely but not forcefully.

Here’s the thing: you attached yourself to my need, converting it to our project, fully invested in finding the best frames out of all available.  Halfway through the process I gave a wry grin and said, “Hi, I’m Carol.”  You said, “Hi Carol, I’m Joan.”  And we were comrades.  We chatted and laughed.  You didn’t act rushed, impatient or put upon.

When we had reduced the decision to two frames, you took your leave.  It occurred to me later that you really had no business in the optical department.  You were just there! And then you left. 

I hope that my new glasses remind me of you often, that I remember to be thankful for our ten-minute friendship.  I would love to be like you when I grow up.  I can’t aspire to your beauty, but I can be friendly and available.  Today you reminded me of how refreshing it is to be connected.  To be humans together in this fragmented world.

Thank you.

Yours fondly,


P.S. I ended up choosing the plainer frame.  I know you preferred the ones with pizazz, the sparkles on the corners that matched my coloring.  Someday I will be brave enough for sparkles, but all my life I’ve chosen safe over brave.


3 thoughts on “Dear Joan

  1. Aw, shucks! Maybe after menopause you will feel brave enough for the sparkles?? Which reminds me, do you still have your bling sunglasses that Curt found for you? You were wearing those several years ago, remember? And more seriously, why are you switching from contacts to glasses? Are you getting bifocals? At any rate, this lady sounds like such a really nice person–how fortunately you were to run into her! 

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