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I learn things the hard way. Sometimes, I have to be taught a hard lesson more than once. I’ve already learned it’s better to buy goods and services in Forest Park, but sometimes I can’t resist bargain hunting outside the village.

When it was time to replace scratched-up glasses, I tried one of those cut-rate eyeglass places. Sure, I had visited a Forest Park optometrist in the past and received excellent service, but this was all about saving money.

So, the cut-rate place gave me an exam, allowed me to pick out frames from their limited selection and pretty soon I had a new pair of glasses. The only problem with the new specs was that I had to take them off to see – especially if I wanted to see something close.

I endured the inconvenience of taking off and putting on the glasses for a number of months, until they began to fall apart. First the nosepiece went, and then the whole frame broke. I brought them back to the cut-rate place but there was no warranty in effect. So, basically, I tossed $150 out the window.

Having learned another hard lesson, I returned to the Forest Park optometrist. I scheduled an exam and a fitting for contact lenses. I was about to toss my credit card down to pay for it, but decided to give the District 91 health insurance card a try. It had already worked for me at emergency rooms and doctor’s offices.

The insurance card worked really well and I only had to pay $10 for the whole shebang. I underwent an extremely thorough eye exam (the cut-rate guy had just held up fingers) and the doctor was very personable. It was great to bask in that deluxe customer care that I have often experienced in Forest Park.

Over the last two decades, I’ve learned – sometimes the hard way – that Forest Park was the best place to buy TVs, vacuum cleaners, glasses, ice cream, sheet music, amps, cold beer, flowers, cards, wine, cheeseburgers, pork chops, crawfish, used CDs, French onion soup, candy, meat, ice skates, paint, books and greeting cards.

It’s the best place for me to receive my mail, do my banking and take piano lessons. It’s where I go when I need legal advice, automotive repairs and cooking tips. I had my Christmas cards printed in Forest Park and I give my clients chocolates that are handmade in town.

I’ve seen some great plays here and hope to see more. I’ve savored many relaxing meals in Forest Park restaurants and what town has better gathering places for meeting friends.

I know we can’t find everything we want in Forest Park. But we can save ourselves some painful lessons by giving Forest Park a chance before chasing bargains elsewhere. Even a blind fool can see that.