Posted by: stiltsville | January 27, 2012

Behind the scenes: Florida Governor Rick Scott welcomes eyeglass store to shopping mall

Governor Rick Scott and Bruce Steffey (left)

Florida Governor Rick Scott cut the ribbon at the new eyeglass store in Town & Country Mall this morning. It’s nearby, and I’ve never seen the whole political entourage/ribbon cutting so I drove on over there 45 minutes before the show…

There were two black SUVs and some mall security golf carts blocking off the area in front of the America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglass store. Three uniformed (off duty?) Sweetwater Police and half-a-dozen men in suits were standing outside, one of ’em on crutches. A team of janitors were detailing the area. I got a cup of coffee and watched as a TV cameraman arrived and set up his camera, men in suits talked animatedly and janitors cleaned. Shoppers walked by, talking on their cell phone and seemingly unconcerned about why cops and black SUVs had blocked off the parking lot.

A still photographer and two more TV cameras arrived. Another police car arrived and a cop & K9 team got out. Soon, cell phones rang, people stood up a little taller and inched out to the edge of the sidewalk. Across the parking lot I saw a pair of black Chevy Suburbans approaching. The gubernatorial caravan had arrived.

Scott’s SUV pulled up, he got out, walked right by me and began shaking hands. Bruce Steffey, COO of National Vision, is as tall as Scott and began making introductions right there on the sidewalk in front of the store. Scott’s media team showed up too.

After a few moments, Steffey invited everyone inside the store where he began explaining the eyeglass industry business model to Gov. Scott. So I’m listening to Steffey explain that the $69 price for a pair has not gone up for ten years, and Steffey’s team operates eyeglass centers in 250 WalMarts across the country… That’s when things got interesting.

I “felt” a pair of eyes on me. Sure enough, one of the uniformed cops is glaring at me from 4 feet away, behind his tinted glasses. As Steffey and Scott begin to walk around the store one of the National Vision VPs introduces himself to me and requests we walk outside. My mother raised me to be a gracious guest, so I follow the gentleman out of his store. He wants to know what I am doing there and I explain that I’m just curious, never seen the Governor do a ribbon cutting.

Meanwhile, the two uniformed officers walk out of the store and plant themselves between me and the door. They don’t take their eyes off me. I explain to the VP that I’m just watching and certainly not planning any anti-eyewear protest or anything. Honest. Scott’s driver helpfully suggests I stay “back behind that line.”

So Scott comes out, cuts the ceremonial ribbon and poses for photographs. After the photos, there’s a scrum of TV cameras and Scott recites his job numbers. Things are wrapping up. Meanwhile, I’m standing at the edge of the sidewalk with 6′ tall cops on either side of me. One of the cops asks what I have in my pocket and I show him my cell phone.

Scott starts shaking hands, working his way around the crowd. As he gets over to where I stand, he shakes hands with the two cops towering over me and turns to his waiting vehicle. Then he turns back, reaches between the cops, shakes my hand, says “I’m Rick,” and he’s gone, headed to the Latin Builder’s Association. As soon as Scott’s SUV is rolling, the cops forget all about me and head over to La Caretta for lunch.



  1. […] Behind the scenes: Florida Governor Rick Scott welcomes eyeglass …Jan 27, 2012 … Governor Rick Scott and Bruce Steffey (left) … Bruce Steffey, COO of National Vision, is as tall as Scott and began making introductions right … […]

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