Last updateWed, 15 May 2019 3pm

Martha Williams

The Way It Used To Be: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - so to speak

Reprinted from May 1997

People who do not work with the public have little or no idea about the way it really is. For instance, have you ever seen one word written about how customers smell? I doubt it.

At the risk of offending those who live in a state where tobacco is a prime source of income, I want to discuss how smokers smell. This is not how grandpa used to smell with the sweet aroma of tobacco smoke which permeated his clothing stemming from his pipe; this is the smell of people who chain smoke cigarettes. 

Some scents like Swisher Sweet cigars lingering on a person can enhance their appeal, perhaps, but not the chain smoker whose clothing is totally drenched with cigarette smoke smell. I wonder how it is no one tells them about this or urges them to at least air out the clothing once in a while. It is not appealing to non-smokers. 

The Way It Used To Be: “Would you be willing to Work on Saturdays?”

Reprinted from April 1997

Recently, there was a big stir about the suggestion we teach Ebonics. I have interviewed many “wannabee” part time employees who are either in college or high school graduates. There was one girl who stood out over all the rest. She could have been my daughter or granddaughter, but when she spoke I was shocked at her vocabulary.

I asked her a series of questions to see how she’d come across to the public. “According to your application, it says you like music and people. Is that right?”

The Way It Used To Be: Dealing with employees teaches one a lot about human nature

Reprinted from March 1997

Almost every jewelry store in America has them. They are indispensable. They come in all sizes and shapes, sexes and religious beliefs. They are employees. Over a period of years, I have learned a great deal about human nature through dealing with employees. Most employees are good, honest, willing workers, but in my mind, there are a few incidents that stand out.

The Way It Used To Be: Time is valuable

Reprinted from February 1997

We who work with watches work with time. Time is the one asset we all have which is divided equally no matter what age, race, financial status or health. I’ve decided God made a mistake when he created time because there isn’t enough of it.

During December we all came to work earlier and worked later. This meant I was eating breakfast at 6:30 and dinner at 8:30. Health gurus tell us we should not eat and go to bed right away. I found after I watched the six o’clock news I’d taped I had taken to discontinuing prayers during this time because it would save a few minutes. Either that or I could give up showering or washing the dishes. I wondered how families, especially women, could get up, dress their children and deliver them to day care and get to work by 9 a.m. I kept thinking it must be God that allotted them more time than I received. Even their pets looked well groomed and healthy.

Part of my problem is that those in my general age group are retired. Retired persons often have nothing to do and all day to do it in. One evening one of my friends dropped by and I was visiting with him and I said, “Excuse me, I’ve got to go move my clothes from the washer to the dryer.” And he remarked, “Who on earth would be doing their laundry at this time of night?” I said, “When would you have me do it? At 3 a.m.?”

I sometimes find myself ironing something to wear at 6 a.m. My doctor tells me to do exercises every day. Since I had to be at work earlier during December, when I put up the Christmas tree I put the exercise bike in the storeroom. Didn’t have time to spare and if one is going to cut out something it might as well be something which isn’t enjoyed all that much.

During December I picked up my paper on the way to the car but seldom found time to read it. Calls on my answering machine went unanswered. The yard needed to be raked. I don’t live where there is snow or miserably cold weather and some yard work goes on year round.

Somehow I had to find time to purchase and wrap the gifts I give. I had to remember who would be the recipients of smaller gifts such as beauty operator, mailman, UPS man, FedEx, etc. Fitted into this tight schedule I had to think of an appropriate gift and buy it. I noticed my suits and dresses needed to be cleaned and I hadn’t had time to get past the cleaners to pick up or drop off. My dogs looked as if they were abused strays. The cleaning woman complained we were out of Windex and Lysol because I hadn’t gotten by the store. My milk went sour in the refrigerator and I hadn’t had the opportunity to buy any. I was driving one day and the buzzer went on indicating I was so low on gas it was giving me due notice to stop and do so immediately. My car is under warranty and the dealer had ordered a panel which cracked and they called me three times in December to remind me it was here. My elderly neighbor had to have a ride to the airport so I had to squeeze this in. Time is indeed valuable.

Here it is January and my yard looks like it hasn’t been touched since October or maybe even September, my dogs look like refugees from the pound. There are pine needles all over the house. I seem to be out of many important items such as those which go in the bathroom. My hair is down to my shoulders and needs to be cut and I gained five pounds since November. Thank God I am now back to my usual hectic pace.


The Way It Used To Be: “Do you have a restroom?” And other phrases jewelers love to hear

Reprinted from January 1997

There are a few phrases we jewelers don’t like to hear. For the New Year I’d sure like to eliminate a few we hear far too frequently. For starters, “I wonder if you’d do me a favor?” This can mean anything from doing a $100 appraisal for free to setting a complicated watch for free, but the key word is “free.” Another favorite is, “Would you mind looking at this and telling me if it is real?” This can mean identifying a colored stone, diamond or a watch and telling the customer he is the proud owner of a piece of junk jewelry or a fake Rolex.

The Way It Used To Be: A note to manufacturers concerning catalogs - keep it standard size


Reprinted from September 1997

Suppliers and manufacturers go out of their way to put out catalogs that will catch the jeweler’s eye and urge them to make a purchase, thus creating business. This is an account of how these things work in reality.

In the morning mail, some years back, we received a lovely catalog that was loose leaf and brimming with color photos of beautiful items. We also received a catalog which was small and square, attractive however, and we looked for a place to put both.

The Way It Used To Be: Teaching children to work for rewards doesn’t always work

Reprinted from December 1996

In an effort to teach children that one must work for rewards people sometimes sell candy bars and cookies which are carried door to door by well meaning children. The profits are then divided up between the group or troop. These ventures are popular and money is honestly earned, but what does it really teach children?