This morning, Rich and I went to Shari’s for breakfast. We rarely go out for breakfast, but Rich had a coupon, burning a hole in his wallet. Equipped with the Sunday paper, we enjoyed a leisurely meal. Rich had his usual Denver omelet with rye toast and hash browns. I opted for a tasty spinach and mushroom omelet with three pancakes.
Heading home, Rich noticed that tucked in the corner of a nondescript strip mall was the Bead Hut and Lakewood Jewelers. These two family-owned businesses used to be in trendy, downtown Kirkland, a block off the main thoroughfare. They’re now in obscure Totem Lake Square next to resale shops, dinky restaurants, car repair companies, and other mom-and-pop establishments. Across from them are car dealerships and in the back are warehouses.
Seeing the Bead Hut rekindled the troubles I had with Lakewood Jewelers when I first moved to Washington. After being offered a job at Microsoft, I gave two-week’s notice at Dell, packed two huge duffle bags with clothes and essentials, and my laptop, and then flew to Seattle. Because I had no idea when Rich (and 99% of my stuff) was going end up in Seattle, what I placed in the duffle bags was carefully scrutinized to ensure I only took what I absolutely needed and nothing more.
I decided, however, to take a favorite item or two. I chose a small doll from Hungary that was given to me at my father’s funeral when I was nine. I also chose a Native American fetish, a quail made from a large shell with obsidian, jasper, turquoise, and sterling silver details. Even though I have dozens of fetishes, the quail was one of my favorites; unfortunately, one of its legs broke during the trip.
My duffle bags and I arrived in Washington on a Saturday and moved into an amazing furnished apartment in downtown Bellevue that Microsoft secured for me (thank you Microsoft). The next day, I journeyed to downtown Kirkland to decompress for my first day of work on Monday. I spied the Bead Hut during that initial visit and returned a few weeks later to purchase the beads and use their tools to make a set of earrings.
The mother and daughter who run the Bead Hut were very accommodating and made me feel welcome. When I decided to have my quail’s leg soldered back onto the body, the nature choice was Lakewood Jewelers, which was in the back part of the Bead Hut and run by the father of the clan.
I dropped off the quail, paid $30 to have it repaired, and was told that it would be done within the week. I returned the following weekend to find that it hadn’t been repaired. Several weeks lapsed while I flew back to Austin, Texas to help Rich pack up our house (which amazingly sold within eight hours) and drive across country with our six cats and five birds.
When I returned to Lakewood Jewelers to pick up my quail, it was nowhere to be found! I was told to look around both the jewelry and bead shops to see if it had been stuck on a shelf. No luck. They placated my disappointment by saying they’d look for the quail and ask their employees if they’d seen it.
The following week I returned and once again, the quail couldn’t be found. The jeweler insisted that I had picked it up and should look in my car and apartment. I explained that I hadn’t been in downtown Kirkland in weeks, let alone his store. Weeks passed with my calling and asking whether they’d found my quail. The answer was consistently the same. I must have picked it up and misplaced it in my house or car.
Finally, I insisted that they reimburse me for the piece along with the cost to have it repair, $30. The jeweler begrudgingly wrote me a check, ranting that I was negligent and was trying to con him out of money. Three days later, he called and reported that a "customer" had mistakenly taken my piece.
I was thrilled and said that Rich and I would be in on Saturday and would write a check for the amount he’d reimbursed me. When we went to pick up the quail, Rich said he’d like the jeweler to waive the cost of the repairs since I ‘d made numerous trips to his shop and was repeatedly told that I was trying to cheat him.
The jeweler, however, was furious at Rich’s audacity. After all, as he explained, he’d paid the customer $10 for “her troubles to return MY piece of art.” He wasn’t about to lose any more money on the transaction. Moreover, because he felt that he’d been wronged, he refused to give me the quail until Rich handed him a check for the repair plus the amount he’d reimbursed me.
Adding insult to injury, he immediately rushed to the bank and cashed our check as if we had written him a bad check!
Two years later, I’m still upset over the incident. No one deserved to be treated with contempt just because they expected to have their property returned to them, especially after they paid to have it fixed!
By the way, the quail represents holiness and the sacred spirit, which is why I was so desperately wanted it back.