Across The Counter
Reprinted from March 1991
Trade Shop Problems With The Ice Machine
Everyone should attend their state jewelry convention. It’s always beneficial to talk with others who are in the same boat with you. For instance:
At the last convention RB and I met Herb. He owns a store in the great state of Texas, but it might well be in your hometown! Herb confided in us that he was forced to send all his work out to a trade shop since he wasn’t able to see well enough to do the work himself.
“After all,” he joked, “When you can’t see with a 20x you’re in pretty bad shape!”
Herb related to RB and me the following story about his problems with his local trade shop:
“You know, I was lucky to locate this Sabastian fellow - he’s a top notch jeweler. Only has one problem however, can’t seem to get the work out on time. Let me tell you a typical example:
“About two months ago a fellow came into my store with an old ring of his mother’s and selected a nice mounting for his wife. He said he wanted to be sure to have it for her anniversary, which would take place in about two months.
“Well, I assured him we would definitely have the ring by that time, no problem at all.
“So, I took the job to Sabastian myself. ‘Now, Sabastian,’ I said firmly ‘this customer needs the ring in two months… are you sure who you can have it for me?’
“’Of course,’ he promised, confidently. ‘No sweat.’
“He glanced over the job.
“Well, a week went by and I went to check on the mounting job. ‘No, I haven’t started it yet,’ he alibied. ‘My mother-in-law died and things have been pretty upset.’
“I sympathized with him, naturally. With such a gloomy event, who could blame him? ‘Do you think you could have it by next week?’ I asked.
“’Oh sure, no sweat.’
“So I left confident he’d keep his word. Another week went by and I dropped in to check on the job.
“’Oh, Herb, I’m so sorry. I sprained my ankle and just haven’t been able to get the work out. You understand?’
“I was pretty upset but tried not to show it. ‘How about next week?’ I prodded.
“’Oh sure, no sweat.’
“Later in the day, my customer came by to check on his ring. ‘It isn’t ready yet,’ I had to tell him. ‘Sebastian fell and sprained his ankle. But he assures me he’ll have it next week…check then.’
“I was sure Sabastian would have the ring ready next time I called him, but I was met with more explanations.
“’I’m sorry, but my soldering equipment is acting up. Call me in two weeks. We’ll have it for sure!’ I left feeling we were cutting it very close.
“Next time I saw the customer he was starting to develop a long face, I carefully explained about Sebastian’s faulty equipment and suggested he return in two weeks for his ring. We would definitely have it by then.
“I called Sabastian twice during the two-week period, but he was out both times. Once he was playing golf and another time he was down at the corner tavern relaxing… and who could blame him? He works so hard – most of the time.
“I was really starting to worry when it came within a week of the crucial date. But my doubts were swept away by Sebastian’s assurance: ‘I’m going to start work on it this afternoon for sure!’ His voice was so strong with authority I really didn’t doubt him.
“’Now remember, Sabastian, the anniversary is next Saturday so I’ll be by at 4 pm Friday,’ I reminded him.
“’Don’t worry,’ he replied. ‘No sweat!’
“So Friday rolled around and I picked up the phone and dialed Sabastian. ‘Say, you do have my remounting job finished, don’t you?’
“’Well, not actually,’ he replied. ‘I had intended to start on it this afternoon, but my wife’s ice machine broke down and I had to stop work on your job to fix it. You see we are having a party tonight and she’s simply got to have the ice machine working to make frozen daiquiris.’
“Well I had to say to my customer: ‘I’m sorry about your wife’s ring, but Sabastian had to stop work on it to repair his wife’s ice machine. She has a party tonight and if Sabastian remounted your wife’s ring, his wife couldn’t make any frozen daiquiris. Understand?’
“My customer stood there, his face turning from pink to red and then finally to flaming crimson. I guess he didn’t understand. So I went to the phone and called Sabastian once more.
“’Sab couldn’t you put the ice machine aside for a while, after all you’ve had my job almost two months?’
“’No, I am afraid, not,’ he groaned.
“I returned to the customer, trying to smile. ‘Could I interest you in something else for your anniversary? I don’t think the ring will be ready.’
“’But you promised! I gave you two months! Tomorrow is the anniversary! I WANT MY RING!!!’
“Back to the phone again. I begged Sabastian, ‘Please, oh please! Just this once, and I promise I’ll never rush you again!’
“So he finally agreed to get the job out by 11 am Saturday. ‘After all, the anniversary isn’t until Saturday,’ he sounded sorry. ‘What’s the big sweat?’
“My bewildered customer left with the idea of coming back at 11 am. I didn’t sleep a wink last night and this morning at 10:30 I called that. that Sabastian to check on my job.
“’Well Herb my mother-in-law’s clock isn’t striking, I’ll get on your job just as soon as I adjust her clock’”
Herb’s voice trailed off and I saw the hopelessness that clouded his eyes. “What happened Herb?” I prodded. “What happened when the customer came in?”
Herb shrugged his shoulders. “How would I know? That’s when I suddenly decided to come to this convention.”