Monday, January 17, 2022

A Funny Thing Happened at the Shop Today


Submitted Photo | The infamous Waterford crystal hand bell.

Over the years, many of my loyal readers and customers have found many of my true life stories a little hard to believe. My suggestion to the doubting Thomases out there would be come in, take a chair and within an hour or so you will see the comings and goings and experience the drama that occurs in an average day at my humble little island jewelry store. You will soon understand how I never run out of fresh material to write about when there is a door that is open to the public.

Below are some examples of my most memorable experiences in the shop.

Case of the Bell Ringing, Wine Drinking Hippie

It started on a beautiful nondescript August morning. I was working at my bench when the peace was broken by a loud commotion going on in the front showroom. My mom ran in the back workshop and begged me to come out front and handle a problem customer. What appeared in front of me was a wild-eyed woman, screaming obscenities and ringing what appeared to be a Waterford crystal hand bell. She was barefoot and dressed in a soiled white peasant dress with hurricane blown blonde hair. A sight out of a Steven King movie!

No amount of consoling would calm her down so I could ask her the simple question, “WHY ARE YOU HERE?” She then told me several names and slapped down her driver’s license, saying I better have her great aunt’s ring or some nonsense when she comes back. She left and did return a few minutes later, but first preceded to sit on the hood of her idling convertible that was parked out front, headlights on, with the windshield wipers flapping (it was a sunny day, remember). She was calmly sipping a glass of white wine. I was in no mood for round two, and called Marco’s finest, letting them know I had a woman out front of my shop who was obviously off her meds.

Luckily in minutes they swooped in and came to the same conclusion about her that I had. Eventually they whisked her away before she hurt somebody or trashed my shop. This woman was actually driving a car!

This by far has to be the weirdest store experience ever, which required a police escort.

Bridezilla Lives

I have dealt with many bridezillas in my half a century in this business before it became an epidemic, the most memorable nightmare happened here on the island. She was referred to me by a current customer (Gee thanks!) from the very get-go we did not see eye to eye.

She educated herself from the internet, so that means she knew everything about diamond wedding bands. She knew what she didn’t want but not what she wanted. It took hours, days, weeks and eventually months for her to commit to the finished design. Meanwhile, the wedding date was creeping dangerously close. When I thought she finally made a decision she would call me later saying she changed her mind and have me go back to zero again! I found myself “plowing the same field” over and over. She changed the wedding band design on the “poor slob,” soon-to-be-husband at least a dozen times. It was now a week before the wedding. To tell you the truth, I was so frazzled by her antics I really had no idea what style cockamamie wedding rings I was making for them. I heard nothing from her for weeks until she called the day before the wedding…“Are my rings ready?”  I told her, what rings? You never agreed on any design we discussed and changed your mind on the design for your soon-to-be most miserable husband on this earth, plus you refused to leave a deposit for me to start working on the supposedly finished imaginary wedding bands.

The tirade spewing from that phone to my ears would have embarrassed a veteran truck driver. I told her to go to… Jared’s.

When I finish my mad memoirs I’m sure I could fill another 200 pages of my retail experience. Wait… is that a hand bell I hear?

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith and has been Marco’s go to jeweler since 1994. He welcomes your questions and comments about all that glitters. Call 239-394-9275 and visit

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