I'm going to tell you a story, to set the scene for The Mea Culpa.
Back in the spring of 1989 when Brian and I were talking about getting married, he confessed his distress that he could not afford to get me an engagement ring. At that time, he didn't have two nickles to rub together, and he had given me what little savings he had to put in my "California account" for our move to San Francisco later on that summer. I thought it was sweet that he was concerned that I'd be disappointed but I truly didn't care about having an expensive ring. We went up to Provincetown for Memorial Day weekend, and we were browsing in the wharf shops, where there are, or were, stalls with lots of craft vendors. One of the vendors was selling silver rings and I off-handedly said to Brian, "Aren't those pretty?" I tried a few on, then I moved on with my tunnel-vision shopping. Later on that afternoon we were on the beach at Race Point and he proposed to me, and presented me with one of the rings I'd tried on. It is a $5 ring, but let me tell you something, to me it is absolutely priceless.
In 1995, we decided to spend our anniversary in San Francisco at a hotel on Ocean Beach. We were already living in Marin, and our anniversary fell over Gay Pride Weekend. Instead of driving in from Marin for the parade, we decided to stay over in SF and go downtown from there. We were hanging out on the beach watching the sunset, and Brian surprised me with an upgraded ring which he bought at The Fairfax Festival. It's a silver ring w/ a yin-yang design on either side of the blue topaz stone. The artist based the design on his mother's own wedding ring. Brian thought that it was appropriate to give me the new ring on the beach in San Francisco, to bookend his proposal on the beach in Provincetown. How sweet is he?!
Well, a couple of Christmases ago, I got the shock of my life when I was presented with another upgraded ring. He said that he'd always kind of felt bad that he never got me something with diamonds, even though I never once expressed the desire to own one. This is what made his idea and gift so much more special, because I've never been a high maintenance person or hinted around that I wished I had expensive jewelry. In fact, those "guilt trip" jewelry commercials that they run at Christmas annoy me with their portrayal of the bumbling husband who didn't get his wife the ultra delux diamond gift and her bitchiness about it. All of the expensive jewelry Brian has given me has been his idea. My current ring is a stunning star sapphire, with 3 small diamonds on either side of the stone. You should see that star shine!!
Last summer I accidentally caught the stone on a drawer and it popped out of the setting. I took the ring to Fred Meyer Jewelers to have fixed. The woman in the store was really snotty and snobby. She was short with me, and I got the feeling that she was looking down at me b/c there I was in a ratty tie dye shirt and shorts and clearly not the clientele on whom she would prefer to wait. She snapped, "it's going to cost about $100 to fix" and I said, "that's fine, it's my wedding ring so I will pay whatever it costs to fix". She says to me, very sarcastically, "That's your wedding ring?" That simple phrase alone made me absolutely boil. I gritted my teeth and hissed, "Yes". I'm sorry she's unhappy that she couldn't score a job at Tiffany & Co., but that snotty little remark was uncalled for. When I went to pick up my ring a week later, there was another saleswoman in the store. She was so nice to me. I told her what the other girl said and I got a knowing nod of the head, as if that wasn't the first time she heard a customer complain. Meanwhile she takes the ring out of the bag and exclaimed, "What a gorgeous star sapphire! You can't find good ones that have such a vivid star like this one! Where in the world did you find this?" Oh, and the ring only cost $25 to fix.
Which leads me to The Mea Culpa. A few weeks ago, the stone popped out again, so I went back to Freddies to have them fix it. Snot-girl was behind the counter again and gave me major attitude AGAIN. "It's going to cost $115 to fix," she snaps. I said, "You told me that last year and it only cost $25, so why the difference in price?" She said, "Well the price of gold has gone up! There's no way you paid $25 to have it fixed!" I was thisclose to getting in her face and really going off on her, when another saleswoman, who could see where the confrontation was heading, intervened. She even went in back and fished out my original order from last August and found that I only paid $25 because Snot-girl forgot to write down that the ring had to be set AND re-tipped.
I picked up my ring the next week and told the woman that I couldn't stand Snot-girl, what was her problem and why is she still working there? The woman said they get a lot of complaints about her but they can't fire her b/c she's union. Meanwhile, she pulls my ring out and she too exclaims how gorgeous the ring is, and even calls over a collegue to look at it!! I asked who I could speak with to complain about Snot-girl. They directed me to Customer Service and told me to fill out the form and send it to corporate, and gladly told me Snot-girl's real name. As I walked away, I could hear the 2 women in the jewelry department still discussing how gorgeous my ring is. I filled out the form, mailed it and pretty much forgot about it.
Last night I got the mail and I see a card addressed to me from someone I don't know. I open it and see a handwritten letter which I started to read. I had absolutely no idea what this person was talking about then it hit me, it was from Snot-girl. Although she didn't say so, it seems that the store came down hard on her and she had to write me The Mea Culpa. The letter is nice enough, begging me for a second chance, told me that there was no excuse to treat a customer like that, that she's really a happy and bubbly person, etc etc etc.
On the one hand, I appreciate the gesture as it was very unexpected. But on the other, I know that she was forced to write it by the company because I named her in my complaint form, and was told by the other jewelry department women that they get a lot of complaints about her. In fact, ever since she got all 'tudinal with me last summer, I've made it a point to glance in there every time I'm in the store (which is at least 1-2 times a week) to observe her behavior with other customers. She never, ever smiles. She always looks like she has a haughty air about her, or as my mom would say, "like her shit don't stink". I have never once seen any indication of a "happy, bubbly person", as she describes herself.
And so I have accepted her apology, and I forgive her for being the way she is, because to me, she is clearly an unhappy person deep inside. I will just have to make it a point to visit the jewelry department when she is not working.