First I fumbled the scissors as I pulled them from the kitchen drawer and saw them land, point side down, on my instep. Then I lifted my glass of juice only to have the whole thing slipped from my grasp and land bang! on the kitchen table, its contents spilling everywhere.
Then I got too wrapped up in writing something and missed my exercise class at the Y.
“Shoot.” I thought. “I might as well get the dry cleaning, buy the groceries and bring my earring with the missing stone to that jewelry-and-accessory shop that does repairs.” I figured I could cannibalize the bracelet that matches the earrings since the bracelet is already missing a few stones. But when I walked into the place I discovered I had the still-good earring with me and not the messed-up one. Dang!
I would have settled into a real pout at this point had the shop’s proprietor not done that thing I can almost count on seeing her do every time I am in there:
She was interacting with an older man and woman who were also there to get a piece of jewelry fixed. The difference between them and me was they either wanted their job fixed for free or else they were sore because they had bought it there, then it broke and now here was the proprietor giving them the bad news about how it’s costume jewelry and when it breaks it breaks. Not her problem, she tells people. She even has a sign to that effect that she points to when this happens. “Read the sign!” she says levelly, looking over the rims of her glasses at whatever poor petitioner stands before her.
I missed the first part of what the older couple’s was saying but this is what I did hear:
Customer: “We just …”
Proprietor: “Hey! You want to do me a favor and not harass me about this?”
Customer: “But …”
Proprietor, again interrupting: “What’s your name sir?
Customer: “Joe” (I will call him.)
Proprietor: “Well, JOE, you want to quit saying the same thing over and over? I said I couldn’t help you.”
Customer: (inaudible reply, meeker in tone.)
“And what’s your name, Ma’am? she then said to his wife/
The man’s wife then answered meekly.
Proprietor: Well, you two. You know what I want you to do? I want you to go have a nice lunch somewhere. Joe, take your wife out to nice lunch, what do you say?”
Customer and wife, gathering their things: “All right then.”
And they pass me on their way out, in a kind of slow toddle, whispering to each other.
It was my turn at the counter then but before I could ask about my messed-up earring whose repair I had every intention of paying for IF I could ever manage to bring it into the store, I heard myself say, “I love how you’re always disciplining your customers,” which could have been a rash thing to say if it offended her, but it didn’t.
“And they love it!” she said. “They come back for more!”
I didn’t get my earring fixed obviously but I did give her a bum watch I spend 80 whole dollars for at T.J Maxx that broke within a month. I let six months pass before I tried to get my money back but by then I had lost the slip so no dice.
Back then, I brought it to this same shop and had the proprietor sell me a battery that did no good at all. Now, today I was trying one more time.
She unwrapped the new battery and inserted it into the watch, all the while chatting pleasantly. She set the time for me and set it in motion. “We’ll see what happens,” she said.
And an hour later, when I looked down at my wrist and saw its hands had moved only five minutes, I knew for sure that the watch was bad.
I could have gone back to my fierce friend and asked that she take the battery back, it being brand new and all but I didn’t dare.
Instead I hurled the thing into the nearest trash can trash and went home to tend to my wounded instep and police the kitchen floor for teensy shards of glass.