I’ve written extensively about all of the crazy encounters that happen when you work with the public. What I haven’t spent much time on is the really cool encounters that also happen when you work with the public. Here’s a few of my personal favorites.
Back around 2009, I was reading ‘Heaven and Hell, My Life in the Eagles’ by Don Felder. Don was the lead guitar player for the band and was the original writer of the song ‘Hotel California’. While at work during the day, I’d pull up songs on the internet that I’d read about in the book the previous night. He had written about certain nuances that you’d never notice unless you were listening specifically for it.
One Saturday afternoon, I was looking for a song that he had written about that was on his bandmate Glenn Frey’s solo album. Just as I was clicking on the song, my front door opened and a man walked in carrying a couple of watches. When I turned my attention from the computer to the door, I accidently played the song below the one I meant to play. It was an obscure song that I’d never heard before, but I was already out front waiting on my customer so I just let it play.
As I’m back changing the batteries, the guy in my showroom was singing along, and singing along very well. When it got to the chorus of the song, my customer just nailed all of the harmony parts. I was quite impressed. When I finished with his watches, I asked him how he knew that song. He asked me why I was even playing it in the first place.
I told him it was a mistake and I meant to play the one above it. He told me that he’s played in Glenn Frey’s band for decades and that was him on the record singing the high harmony parts. He said he’d been on every Eagle’s tour as a background keyboard player for the last 20+ years. And that, my friends, was how I met Vince Melamed.
I’ve said countless times how it bugs me when someone just has to have their jewelry back quickly because ‘they are going out of town.’ My immediate thought, using my inside voice, is; ‘Geez, its jewelry. It’s not lifesaving heart medicine.’ Then this happened.
A young lady came in looking for a Mizpah charm. But, she needed a three piece charm, not a two piece charm. She told me that her mother had just suffered a catastrophic medical issue and was in the ICU at Vanderbilt hospital and not expected to survive. She and her twin sister wanted a 3 piece Mizpah charm so she and her twin could wear the ends, and put the middle piece on their mother’s neck while she was still alive. And if worse came to worse, to bury her with the necklace. I told her I was on it. It was here that I found out that no one makes a 3 piece Mizpah charm. So I decided to order one, solder the two halves together, and then hand cut it into 3 pieces.
I ordered the charm and paid to have it overnighted back when that was still extremely expensive. There was an ice storm that was supposed to hit overnight so she knew it might not make it here the next day. The next morning, it was all I could do to make it into work, but I was pretty sure that the charm wouldn’t make it. But, through divine intervention, my Fed Ex driver, with snow chains on this truck, delivered it to me. I called the young lady at the hospital and told her I had it in my possession and to give me about 2 hours. She said she was going to start walking my way since it was about a mile between the hospital and my store and all the roads were iced over. It was here when I found out the two pieces of a Mizpah charms don’t exactly fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Ruh Roh!
It took a little time, but I managed to get the two pieces married together and looking pretty good. The young lady, and her twin sister, finally showed up, shivering, with ice and snow covering their faces. I handed them a sharpie and asked them each to draw a jagged line where they wanted me to cut their piece free. Then, with them watching, I cut the end pieces out, added the bails and the chains and delivered them a three piece Mizpah charm.
Even though their mother had not regained consciousness, they had told her what they were doing and why. About an hour or so later I got a call from the young lady who told me that they put the necklace with the center section on their mother. The twins then put their necklaces on, telling their mother everything that was happening while holding her hands. Five minutes later, their mother passed away. Most people never get to be a part of something so difficult and meaningful.
In 1996, if you tried really hard, you could spend $80,000 on a new Cadillac back when a top of the line Caddy sold for around $45,000. And, I assure you, it is one of the best looking cars you’ll ever see. The first time I saw this particular Cadillac, it was being driven by a couple of homeless looking guys. In the back seat were two very stunning women. I remember thinking how odd the scene was. The girls looked like they belonged in a car like that, the guys – not so much. Before they all got out I got sidetracked and forgot all about it. A few minutes later I went out and looked at the car because it was absolutely beautiful, and, it had Texas plates to boot. I didn’t see the occupants again and an hour later it was gone and I forgot about it.
A day or so later, it showed up again. Same scenario; two homeless looking guys up front, but only one woman in the back seat this time. I watched them all get out and walk towards me. I’ll confess that I was paying attention to the girl, not the homeless dudes, because the whole situation just seemed so out of place. Then I realized the two guys were Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top fame. Dusty and the woman walked past me and went into a shop a few doors down. Billy came in my store and asked me about some bracelets he wanted made.
He noticed my Alvarez 6 string acoustic guitar behind the counter and asked me how I liked it. I told him it was a birthday/Christmas/going off to college present 20 years ago. He asked if he could take a look at it and I handed it to him. As it turns out, Billy Gibbons could play it much better than me. After a few minutes, someone spots him in my store and comes in and starts going ga ga over him and he excused himself and got the hell out of there. While he was in the store though, I asked him about the car. He told me that Cadillac was sponsoring their tour that year and all three guys in the band each got one, and they cost $80K each. See, sometimes working with the public is fun.
I hope everyone has a great Christmas this year.
And, if you need that perfect present for the person that has everything, you can order ‘It’s Supposed to Be Funny’, a collection of all of my columns over the last 22 years. Just go to LuLu.com, put my name in the search bar, and order away. A couple of years ago we had to break it into two editions due to the volume of content. Order early as Christmas delivery takes about 2-3 weeks to arrive.
See ya in 2024!