Friday, January 28, 2022

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished



By Richard Alan

B10-CBN-4-17-15-10For many island businesses, the month of April is usually when things begin to wind down a little. It can still be busy but not as crazy as the prior months and many call it “a good busy”. A good busy is running your business at an easy controllable pace where you make your customers really, really happy and actually make money at the same time. That would be a perfect world but for me.

April is totally the opposite in my world; it can be as hectic as the week before Christmas, No really, many folks who have been hanging around on the island for the past few months, now realize it’s time to leave, and they better get those things fixed or checked and cleaned that they have been putting off for weeks or months. So hours before they head back to the great white north in they come.

On a good note some even come in and purchase that awesome diamond & gold sand dollar their wife, girlfriend or mistress has had her eye on before they leave.

Nearly every repair that comes in April is a rush job because “We are leaving Friday!” and today is Wednesday. Folks, in high season my son and I get slammed with both custom work, that includes keeping sellable stock in the store and my staff takes in 35 to 50 repairs a day, not to mention doing what seems like every watch battery replacement on the island. I’m not complaining, I’m more than grateful, but it’s not humanly possible to do quality work and promise it will be ready in 48 hours. Anything needed in less than a week in season I consider a rush job.

A basic day in April can go like this… folks waiting at the door as early as 8:00 am giving my opening staff dirty looks through the windows because they are being ignored. Safes have to be opened and jewelry carefully put out in cases and windows, and even some sprucing up, before we open. We don’t open our door to anyone before 9:30, period! For safety, security and insurance reasons, besides I don’t know of any jewelry store on this planet that opens their doors at 8:00 am.

Got here too early? Go walk a couple of laps around Mackle Park, feed the birds or the fish, read a newspaper at the library or hang out at McDonalds and drink an endless cup of coffee. Sorry the watch battery will have to wait till 9:30.

First hour opened is a flurry of watch batteries. We do our best to accommodate, but some folks come in with a freezer bag full of dead watches. “Sorry, I can’t do them while you wait, can you come back later?” “I can’t wait we are leaving now to go home!” A pile of watches that have not told time for a year and she brings them in on the



way to the airport???? I do one, so she at least has a watch to make sure she doesn’t miss her plane.

Next please? “Can you adjust my diamond bracelet? It doesn’t seem to catch.” Of course the minute I touch it the bracelet comes apart in two pieces. “Can you leave it and pick it up later?” Next? “Can you clean my ring?” While the ring is cleaning in the ultrasonic, two small diamonds fall out. The diamonds have been in that ring since the 1930’s and they decide to fall out now. After fishing the tiny gems out of the cleaner, I apologize for the inconvenience, but it’s better they fall out here than on the street. “I will put them back in, no charge, can you come back later?” Next I explain to a customer the reason we are not open on the day she keeps coming and pulling on a locked door is because it is Sunday, my day of rest. “We are closed Sundays and always have been and always will be.” No matter how persistent her trips on Sunday are, the door will remain locked.

Next is my favorite… a gentleman walks in with a pile of screws, metal parts and electronic doo dads that at one time were a wrist watch. A mishap with a garbage disposal? “Sorry sir, last rites appear to be in order! I don’t have the time or a degree from M.I.T. for that, besides I’m a goldsmith not a watch maker. Next!!”

Heavens no, it’s Mrs. So & So in for her annual checking and cleaning of the entire collection of her estate jewelry. Now mind you this stuff never sees the light of day because it goes right back into her safe deposit box where it cries in the cramped darkness longing to be worn, enjoyed and bask in the light of day! Not a piece needs to be cleaned, I did it all a year ago and the year before that… but she always insists… “Can you leave the jewelry Mrs. So & So? As you can see I’m pretty busy waiting on “paying customers.” The barbed comment goes right over her head, it always does. Year after year, she gets perturbed and before she starts crying and causes a scene, I crumble. “O.K. Come back in an hour. I’ll have it cleaned and checked for you.”

Another broken set of pearls that were “just done” by us (later when researched the pearls were restrung ten years ago!)

Yes Dear, I understand it is upsetting having your rings cut off swollen fingers every Monday. Want some advice? Take them off before you go to the Chinese “all you can eat” Buffet on Sunday. Just saying. I swear this place is like Mayberry with sand!


Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and sometime life councilor and is the owner of the Harbor Goldsmith and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. 239-394-9275 our new updated website will be up and running soon.

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