A few years ago I moved into the Las Vegas area. For the first couple of years I lived in a town that was a 2 hour drive south of Vegas, and I found that this was really as close to the city as I wanted to be.
During my previous years of traveling around the country I discovered that Nevada was a Mecca for a glasses collector. Some of the thickest and nicest glasses I had in my collection had been found in thrift stores in the Sparks-Reno area, or in the Las Vegas area. In most other states the Lion’s Club had managed to set up collection points for used eyeglasses in a number of different locations, and this meant that my finds of really nice glasses had severely diminished. I don’t consider that this isn’t a worthy cause. This is a wonderful use for old eyeglasses, and I am a complete supporter of this. But, I am saddened by the fact that I can no longer pick up unusual and high prescription glasses as cheaply and easily as I used to be able to.
Back around this time however, there were still a number of thrift stores where I could search for that special pair of glasses. So, every trip I made into Las Vegas would include a visit to a number of thrift stores. One morning I had visited one store of a well-known chain of stores. Of course, while I am visiting stores, I am also looking for any wearers of high minus glasses that I can manage to spot. And, I did manage to spot a young lady who wore a pair of black-framed oval shaped glasses that appeared to have a substantial minus prescription. I followed her around the store, grabbing glances at her as often as I could. I didn’t want to be too obvious, but I was definitely enjoying my viewing. What I found most interesting was that she was really squinting at things, showing me that she obviously required an increase in her prescription. After she left the store, I checked the bin where the used glasses were, and found nothing worth buying, so I also left.
There was a major department store next door, so I walked down to it, hoping that I could either spot another girl with a decent pair of glasses, or else run into the girl from the thrift store again. But, this turned into a wash out, and I got into my car and drove to another thrift store in the same chain.
As I walked into the other thrift store a young lady was coming through the cash register line. I looked at her, and there was something vaguely familiar. She wore glasses, very strong minus glasses. I studied these glasses for as long as it took her to pay for her single purchase, and as she walked by me I realized that these glasses were indeed unusual. They were a gold wire framed pair, but a tortoise shell plastic frame ringed the lenses. These glasses had a frame inside a frame, and I could see that the reason for this was to reduce the size of the lenses. Although, the lenses looked to be at least –16D or –17D, and they were still plenty thick.
I wanted to follow her. There was something about her that made me feel I knew her. But, I couldn’t remember the glasses. And, one young lady in a white blouse wearing blue jeans is much like another one to me. I am saddened to admit this, but my interest is usually in the glasses. I am not a tit man, nor an ass man, nor a leg man. I am a glasses man. But, I decided that following her might not be a good idea.
So, I wandered back to the area where they keep the glasses. As I looked through the bin I found a pair of black oval framed glasses with a pretty substantial pair of minus lenses in them. I grabbed those glasses, and picked up another pair of weak minus glasses with a pretty colored frame. Then I grabbed a couple of pocket books, and went to pay for my purchases. But, when I got to the cash register the black framed glasses were not priced, and I had to go through the routine of having the cashier call a manager, and the manager had to establish the price before I could pay for my purchases and get the heck out of there. Yes, there is still a little feeling of embarrassment when I get to the cashier with a few pairs of glasses, even though I have done this hundreds of times. Sitting in my car I took another look at the black-framed glasses. And then it came to me. These were the glasses that the girl I had seen at the cash register had been wearing at the first thrift store. She had found another pair of glasses, and had switched them without paying for them. That is why there had been no price tag on them, and that is why she looked familiar.
Now I wanted to find the young lady. But I didn’t know if she had driven here. Or had she been riding around the city by bus or taxi? I was intrigued, however I didn’t have a clue where to start.
So, I finished my day, and went back home. My job had been bringing me into Vegas at least 3 times a week, and I was finding that the cost of gasoline was making a pretty big dent in my budget. Reluctantly I placed my house on the market, and waited for it to sell. After what seemed like an eternity, but was really only about 4 months, my agent found a buyer. I then took my equity, and purchased an older home in one of the original sections of the city. I spent a lot of time working on this house, fixing it up, and making it more modern and comfortable. Some evenings I just didn’t feel like working on the house, so I would ride my bike over to the strip, and wander around.
Then I saw her. One night as I was walking the strip there was a group of people standing on the sidewalk handing out advertising flyers for strip clubs. Normally I glance away, and walk past as quickly as I can, but I noticed the glint from a pair of glasses. I walked closer to the glasses wearer, and I saw that she was wearing the same glasses that the girl from the thrift store had worn. I took the flyer she handed me, and stood there, pretending to read it, but I was actually watching her. She was glancing down the sidewalk, trying to spot people to hand the next flyer to, and I could see that she was again squinting as she looked into the distance. I was willing to bet that she needed stronger glasses. And, I was almost willing to bet that even if she had been searching the thrift stores again she would not have had any luck finding a pair strong enough for her to wear.
Having spotted her again increased my curiosity. The renovations to my house took a backseat, and the next few evenings found me back downtown, looking for this girl again. And she was there, at the same location every night. I didn’t do anything stupid such as try to speak to her, or pick her up. I didn’t want to draw any undue attention to myself, so all I would do was walk on by. Then a little later I would stroll casually by on my return. I varied my walk time, and I discovered that she was usually on the street as soon as it was dark. She would stand there until midnight, passing out flyers, and then she would leave. But I hesitated trying to follow her. I wasn’t trying to pick her up for sexual reasons. She was young enough to be my daughter, and while I was extremely interested in her, it was not in a sexual manner.
I suspected that during the day she might be visiting thrift stores. I now worked 5 days a week, so I was only available on Saturdays and Sundays. But a plan came to mind. I was working security during the day. I had a badge, a uniform, and I was permitted to carry a gun. I looked through my collection of glasses, and I found a pair of wire-framed glasses with lenses that had a prescription of - 18.50D for both lenses. I knew this, because I had them made up, very cheaply, with ordinary plastic lenses. The lab had substituted a little higher index than normal CR39 plastic, but the lenses were still pretty thick.
I put these glasses into a case, and went to the first thrift store I had seen the young lady at. I went in, introduced myself to the manager as a private detective, and I explained that I was searching for a runaway girl. I described the young lady, and I explained that this girl who I was looking for had very poor eyesight. I told the manager that I had actually spotted this girl trying on old glasses in one of the chain’s stores, but when I followed her she had eluded me. I explained to the manager that I wanted to set up surveillance in the parking lot. If the young lady came into the store, I was going to slip into the store, and put this pair of very strong glasses into the used eyeglasses bin, and when the girl stole the glasses, I was going to arrest her and hold her long enough for her parents to come and get her. It was a flimsy story, full of holes, but the manager bought it.
So, for the next few weeks I found myself watching that particular thrift store on Saturdays and Sundays. Just when I began to think that I would never find my young lady I spotted her walking across the parking lot. I immediately entered the store, and took my –18.50D glasses back to the used glasses bin. Then I wandered far enough away that I could see what she was doing. Sure enough, she headed for the used glasses. I saw her take my planted glasses, and when she put them on I could see that she was amazed that these glasses were giving her better vision than the ones she had been wearing. She kept these glasses on, and she wandered to the ladies clothing section. I quickly picked up the gold-framed, plastic rimmed glasses she had placed in the bin, and I headed for the door. The cashier knew my cover story, so as I passed by I showed her the glasses that the girl had dropped into the bin, and she nodded her approval as I walked over to place myself near the exit.
I casually waited near the door. Sure enough, she paid for a blouse, and not for the glasses. Before she left the exit, I wandered outside, and as she came through the door and into the parking lot I walked up to her, and quickly badged her. I gave her the normal Miranda warning, and told her she was under arrest for shoplifting. At first she was adamant that she had stolen nothing. She showed me her purchase, and the receipt. Then I pulled the glasses she had worn into the store out of my pocket.
“I believe that these were the glasses you wore into the store. And, I know that the glasses you are wearing now were not paid for before you left the store. Just because you left your own glasses in place of the ones you wore when you left the store does not absolve you from the fact that you didn’t pay for them.” I said.
She realized that she had been caught. Her eyes lost the indignant look that she had previously shown, and the life sort of went out of her.
“What, what’s going to happen to me now?” she stuttered.
“Well, that depends on your answers to a few questions. For a starter, what is your full name? And, you had better give me your real name, because if I find you have lied to me it will go harder on you.” I told her.
“Sherry Lynn Jones.” Sherry said in a monotone.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“18.” Sherry told me, using no more words than necessary.
“Do you have a place to live?” I asked.
“Sometimes I bunk at the shelter on North Main.” Sherry said.
“Where do you stay the rest of the time?” I asked.
“On the streets. But I’m not a prostitute.” Sherry was quick to add.
“How is your vision with those glasses? Is it better than the other pair?” I asked.
“I think they are a little stronger than what I really need. But those glasses were a little stronger than I needed when I first started wearing them, and it didn’t take very long before they were too weak for me.” Sherry replied.
“Do you want a clean place to live? Do you want to return to school?” I asked her.
“Not if it means having you mess with me I don’t.” Sherry said.
“There would be no strings attached. All you would be expected to do would be to keep your room clean. If you use the kitchen you would be required to clean up after yourself. If you were to go back to school you would have to keep up your grades, Otherwise you would find it necessary to get a job and pay a portion of your keep. There would be no drug use, and you would have a reasonable curfew. And there would be no boys allowed in your room as long as the room door is closed.” I said.
“Yeh, like there is any boy that is going to give me a second look while I am wearing these coke bottles.” Sherry replied.
“You would be surprised. Anyway, are you interested on those terms?” I asked.
Sherry agreed to move into one of the bedrooms in my house. I know she was a little squeamish for a while, but she soon came to realize that I was not going to make a move on her, and finally she began to let her guard down. Once this point was reached Sherry began to take over the cooking, and a lot of the cleaning, and she was also back in school, trying to get her diploma.
Finally Sherry felt comfortable enough with me to tell me why she was on the streets of Vegas. Her parents had split when Sherry was 7. She didn’t know if her mom had another man waiting in the wings or not, but soon after her dad moved out another guy moved in. Her mom’s boyfriend didn’t really do anything to Sherry or her sister, but he did fondle them, and she remembered him touching her in what today would be considered an inappropriate manner. It was around this time that Sherry and her younger sister had first needed glasses.
Sherry told me that the next few years had been a time of apprehension for both herself and her sister. Some of the kids at her school had told her that their stepfathers had molested them, and both Sherry and Sara lived in fear of this happening. But, the molestation never happened. The only thing that happened was that both Sherry and Sara constantly needed stronger glasses. I was intrigued when Sherry told me that Sara had even stronger glasses than she did, and I would have loved to meet Sara, but I knew I probably never would.
Sherry was a pleasure to have around. She got a part time job in a store at the mall, and when I asked her what she was saving for she told me that she wanted to buy herself a proper pair of glasses, and a pair of contact lenses. I had been meaning to buy her new glasses, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. So, I made an appointment for an eye exam for Sherry, and I told her that I would be willing to buy her glasses, but not contacts.
Sherry had grown into the –18.50D glasses, and actually required another –0.50D in each eye, making her a-19D myope. I really liked the glasses she chose. They had a heavy black frame, with wide temples. The lens openings were rectangular, and with the very highest index of lenses available there was still a little bit of unground lens at the outer edges. I loved the looks of them on her. She was also getting good marks in school, and she was now thinking of going to university the following year.
I told Sherry that I would pay for her tuition, and she could live at my house for free, but she would have to save her own money for books and incidentals. This worked wonderfully. Sherry didn’t spend the money on contact lenses, but instead saved the money for her schooling.
Over the past 4 years Sherry finished university, and she is now a teacher. Her eyesight grew a little worse gradually, and seemed to stabilize at –22.50. She wears a delightful pair of myodiscs, and while I still expect to see her show up wearing contact lenses someday, so far my former little shoplifter is still pleasing me by wearing her glasses.