A reasonable man

I spent half of last week in New York, and the other half in Baltimore. But I only packed enough contact lenses for New York.

I wear daily wear lenses, so I have to replace my lenses every day. I usually over-pack lenses so I have at least twice as many as I’ll need, but this time, in a blurry rush to get out of the house on time, I forgot.

I realized this as I was nearing my last day’s supply. Shit!

So I called my optometrist back in Chicago to ask them if they could send my prescription to a local Lenscrafters in Baltimore so I could pick up a box when I arrived in town.

They looked up my prescription and discovered it had expired earlier this year. My prescription hadn’t changed in 5 years, but it had still technically expired so they couldn’t approve it, or send it. The answer was no. Definitively no. No sir. And that was the end of that. Policy ahead of flexibility for a customer in need. I get it, but I didn’t like it.

So what to do. Ultimately we decided to run over to a local Target. They have an eye clinic with walk-ins available. I could quickly get a new exam and then buy a box of lenses there. That would tide me over. Perfect!

So we hopped in the car, sped over to Target, and walked into the clinic.

It was empty, other than a fellow named Ron. He ran the clinic there that day. Ron had a very Wilford Brimley look about him. Friendly. Good sign! I could walk right in, put my face against the crazy contraption, read some letters, and get on with it.

I explained the situation to Ron, and he stopped me. He said “That’s ridiculous. There’s no reason to put you through the time and expense of a whole new exam just for a couple days worth of lenses. You’re stuck, let’s get you unstuck. Call your optometrist at home and put me on the phone with them.”

So I did.

Ron didn’t ask them to transfer the prescription. He just asked them to read it out loud. “What was Jason’s last prescription?” They told him. He said, “Got it, thanks!”.

Then he went into the back, pulled a few spare trial lenses, and handed them over with a smile. I asked if I owed him anything, he said no — but there’s a jar over here where you can pop a few bucks in for kids who can’t afford glasses. And that’s exactly what I did.

Ron is a very reasonable man. He considered the situation, considered the risk, and did the reasonable thing. He helped someone out who was stuck in a bind. He imagined what it would be like if he was in my shoes, and I was behind the desk instead. He’d want from me what I asked of him. That’s the best service you can ever give.

It made me think about our business. We should be Ron. We all should be more like Ron. Snap out of corporate policy mode, and act under the good neighbor code.

Business lessons are everywhere (I’ve written about that before). You don’t have to seek out famous mentors, attend expensive conferences, or worship the best minds in the industry. Just pay attention and observe everyday dealings between everyday people in everyday situations. School’s in session at every moment. The best lessons are experienced first hand.

Are we like Ron? I sure hope so! Put us to the test and check out the all new Basecamp 3.