Across The Counter
By Martha Williams, El Paso, Texas
Reprinted from October 1989
Back when I first joined RB in the jewelry field I could read anything and could not understand what customers meant when they said they could not see the dials and therefore would not purchase the watch. I used to think how silly such an objection was and wonder why they just didn’t say they couldn’t afford it. Now that Mother Nature has been busy at work I find customers asking me why we carry so many large watches with such huge numbers. It has come to pass that I tend to stock watches more for their ability to be seen and utilized than style.
Everything changes and the changes are subtle. It is twice as far from the front counter to the back room now and the counter is a lot higher and harder to reach and it used to be. RB and I both could fit in there without any trouble, but now we either have to squeeze by in a cramped position or bump against each other going about our duties. It used to be when RB lost a watch part one of us could find it right away. Now one of us has to get down on all fours and carefully sweep the floor sifting dirt and squinting to find the part and often we don’t find it at all. Of course parts are smaller now than forty years ago and the metals more closely resemble the color and texture of the floor.
Customers are much more tiresome than they were years ago and they mumble so much I can’t understand them. Even the preacher mumbles through his sermon. Telephones are cheaply made too now and I can’t hear as well on them as when AT&T had the whole business. Operators really don’t care any more either, as I sometimes have to ask them to repeat themselves.
RB took to wearing loafers, he says his shoe laces are too short, and suspenders because he says they are in style. He complains he must buy a size 16 shirt now to get a size 15 or 15½.
I know I never looked as young as today’s people do at their age. I don’t know how they pull it off, but thirty year olds look as though they need an ID to get into a liquor store. Foods we used to eat without putting on weight now add inches to the waist so I assume they are cutting the contents of the good stuff and adding fattening cheaper stuff.
Furniture styles have changed and I note everything is closer to the floor and harder to get into and out of. If enough people complain, the furniture makers will go back to sensible styles.
Kids of today are showing the result s of contaminated foods and a polluted environment. I know this is true because kids four years old can operate a computer and that isn’t natural. Kids are more active too and children who come in the store get on my nerves more than my own kids did 30 years ago. They wiggle more, talk more, use words no one can understand and are all showing signs of our environmental problems.
While I can remember making statements like, “who needs a clothes dryer?” and “who needs an air conditioner in their car? Just roll down the window!” I can’t remember the weather ever being this bad when I was younger. I think it’s the elements that are changing. It could be the air we are breathing because even when RB and I sleep 8 full hours we feel as though we haven’t been to bed.
Cold things send shivers through my teeth, which have a hard time chewing the meats they sell today which are very tough by comparison to 1950s.
If you are looking for a real shock, the ordering of watch parts for a very fine watch we sold as new and to last a lifetime produces, “Sorry, parts for this watch are no longer available.” One of the worst disagreements I ever had with a customer was over her watch she’d had repaired and she brought it back to demand a specific type of crystal. She went on to say (with a great deal of gusto) that the watch was an antique. Now here was an area I knew something about. With great authority I took a deep breath and said, “Lady, this watch is no antique. In fact, I had one just like it when I graduated from high school and I am….” I took another breath. “Well,” I said, “how old it is simply isn’t important.” Could it have been that long? I know what was meant by the old saying “I met my high school sweetheart and he’d changed so much he didn’t recognize me.”