Every year at this time, I subject you to another treatise on the same subject: SECO. Surely by now every eye doctor in the world must know what SECO is. Its the Southeasts grandest eye care convention, attracting thousands of optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians, assistants and vendors of all manner of optical, technological, surgical and informational uh things.

So, why am I writing about SECO again?

Blame Larry Wiggins.

When Larry Wiggins, a very talented optician from Germantown, Md., called my cell phone on Friday evening at SECO, my whole weekend changed if not my whole life. Suddenly, I woke up from a hazy dream. I once again began to take real notice of the events, people, colors, smells and sounds of SECO and Atlanta. The whole weekend was a crazy quilt.

Crazy in Atlanta
For instance, I found out that Dr. Jack Runninger is, in fact, Spider-Man.

Many of you may know that Dr. Runninger is one of my optometric heroes. To me, Dr. Runninger was the first optometric writer who made it OK to be human in our journals, mainly because he allowed us to laugh at ourselves. Yes, I respect the power of his pen.

After SECO, I also respect the power of his long jump. I saw this 80ish-year-old man leap over a bus. Thats right. A real bus. A bus that nearly ran him over when the driver did not see Spider-ManI mean, Dr. Runningerstep in front.

Now, Jack may tell you he only hustled out of the way. No. I was watching. He sprang at least three feet high and six feet forward. It was amazing and, since he didnt get run over, very entertaining. After this potentially horrible event, he just wanted to know why I waved the bus to go as soon as he stepped in the way. Hey, Jack, its nothing personal this is business.

But back to Larry Wiggins. Remember him? Heres the deal. On Friday, I lost my wallet. It was 3 p.m. I was whacked out. Frantic does not describe me that afternoon. By 5 p.m., I was literally suspended from the hotel room ceiling, weaving a cocoon around myself. Yes, it was bad. Real bad.

My wife and I spent the whole afternoon looking for my wallet in every lost and found in Georgia, canceling credit cards and trying to figure out how in the hell I was going to get on a plane Sunday with no I.D. (The answer: I was NOT going to get on a plane Sunday with no I.D.) We scrambled around, reaching my neighbor back home (who had a key to my house), who made arrangements to ship my passport. That did not replace the important things in my lost wallet: money, library card, health insurance info, movie rental card, AARP card, and various bits of paper on which I had inscribed the Secret to Life.

That evening, my cell phone rang. It was my new best friend, Mr. Larry Wiggins. Mr. Wiggins found my wallet on the seat of one of SECOs many transportation buses. He wanted to return it to me himself, which he did. Larry wouldnt take a reward, wouldnt let me buy him dinner ... Nothing. He just wanted to do the right thing. It was reaffirming. It was emotional. It made me feel that my kids are growing up in a good world after all. It changed my life. God bless, Larry!

So, SECO was memorable. The world is a better place. Jack Runninger can defy gravity. Only at SECO, doctors. Be there to see what happens next year.

Vol. No: 143:04Issue: 4/15/2006