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There are exceptions to every rule. The rule of New York City – that you can get anything, at any time, anywhere – is no exception. You can get a shark on the subway, a watch at the shoe repair, or a diamond in the rough. But you can’t get a decent bank, doctor, or hair dresser for love or money. That’s why city slickers have an ingenuity all their own.

You can get free checking – but only at banks with fewer than a dozen ATMs in a 10-mile radius. You can get free ATMs – but your savings account interest rate is approaching zero. You can use online checking – unless your employer refuses to use them for direct deposit. Solution: open accounts with multiple banks.

You can get wonderful medical specialists – but your PCP won’t return your calls. Your doctor might return your calls, but they won’t see you for a second longer than five minutes. Your doctor might be willing to see you for more than five minutes, but their tremors are so bad that a nurse has to write out their medical instructions for them. Solution: switch doctors every year.

You can get a haircut, but it’ll cost you $35 – before tip. You can get a cheap haircut but the hair dresser will give you a style all their own. You can get a moderately-priced haircut, but the hairdresser will laugh at you. You can get an expensive haircut, but you may not be able to eat that week. Solution: cut your own hair.

Every city has its limits, but the inventiveness of its people knows no bounds.

Have a Seat, You’ll Feel Right at Home

I’ve lived in New York City for a long time, but few places feel like home. My optometrist’s office is one of them. It’s not about the welcome – the owners are always busy talking with customers in Korean when I walk in, and can only nod for me to wait my turn. It’s not the doctor – her professional, albeit personable, distance assures me that she doesn’t remember me from one visit to the next. The reason I feel at home is the chairs.

At Sam & Anna Optics, the chairs are covered in a richly patterned emerald cloth. It’s elegant and tasteful and when I first saw it, it seemed so familiar. It seemed like something from home. But my home never had a whole lot of cloth lying around. In fact, the only cloth I saw frequently was the tablecloth. When that thought struck me, I realized that was exactly why the chairs seemed so familiar. They looked like someone had staple-gunned a deeper-hued version of my tablecloth over a cheap office chair. I looked closer at the chairs. They were, indeed, upholstered in my tablecloth. A very tasteful version of it.

After ten minutes in the offices, I knew that Sam and Anna – the couple who owns and manages the store – were my kind of people. They know what matters in business – quality, location, professionalism – and what does not. Their chairs look good. Their chairs are comfortable. Their chairs are a great place to try on glasses. But their chairs are not expensive and are even cheaper to maintain.

And from there, it just got better.

Sam always makes sure I’m ok waiting a few minutes for my appointment, and gives me an accurate time frame of when the doctor will see me. Dr. Lau herself is fantastic. She checks in on me, as well as my vision. She explains what she’s doing, and answers any questions thoroughly. She also does not dilate my pupils, which my former ophthalmologist explained was an unnecessary procedure performed by lazy professionals. Dr. Lau also has an excellent sense of style, which she generously shares when helping me pick out new frames. Both she and Anna get involved in the search, and do their best to ensure I get something beautiful, functional, and affordable.

And that’s just the basic service.

When I showed up for a contact exam and forgot a case for my glasses, they gave me my choice of name brand cases. I didn’t even realize that Kate Spade carried a line of glasses cases. But Anna did.

When I forgot to ask for a letter to substantiate my appointment for my employer’s medical leave requirement, Anna wrote her first one for me.

When I called for an appointment as soon as possible, Sam offered me one that day.

When I show up for an appointment weighed down with grocery bags – the shop is a block away from Trader Joe’s – they don’t even blink. Instead, they help me arrange my heavy bags in a corner of the show room where no one will disturb them.

For all these reasons, and more, I recommend Sam & Anna Optics to everyone. And I wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else, unless I was forced to. But this week, I don’t have a choice. I called today to book my next appointment and Sam told me that he couldn’t schedule one. The doctor was in a car accident, and is currently recuperating in the hospital. In response to my concern and wishes of a speedy recovery, Sam thanked me profusely. He then assured me that she’s on the mend, and asked if I could call back in a few weeks when she’ll be ready to see patients again.

I look forward to seeing her then.

Sam & Anna Optics

253 West 72nd Street

New York, NY 10023

(212) 769-1174