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Al Solymosi





AL SOLYMOSI jr. works as a bench jeweler, janitor and repair guy in his dad’s store. And the repairs he’s called on to make aren’t limited to jewelry. ?I specialize in remounting and refreshing and redesigning customers’ old, tired pieces, breathing new life into things,? Solymosi says. But he’s also the only one in the store who can repair an electrical outlet or climb a ladder to change a bulb in the track lighting. 

The 1,700-square-foot store is in a blue-collar neighborhood with a loyal following.  

The cast of characters in his dramatic diary includes: Fran Lazarowicz, sales; Dad, owner Al Solymosi Sr.; wife Jennifer, daughter Kaitlyn, 7, son Joseph, 9; and a Jack Russell terrier named Tasha. 

I don’t know whether we have more than our share of annoying customers. But we have to compete directly with places like Wal-Mart and Kmart. We have nicer pieces in the store, but most of what we hear is, ?What do y’all got that’s cheap?? Or they’ll buy a hollow rope chain from Wal-Mart and expect me to keep fixing it for free after I fix it the first time and it breaks in the same place. If a customer comes in screaming, Dad wants to keep them quiet, keep them happy and get them out of the store, so peace will ensue. But I’ll stand my ground. I’ll fight for what I believe is right. 

I have to wear so many hats during the course of the day. Everything has to be broken up into five- and 10-minute intervals. To be able to sit down and get an hour’s worth of work done, that’s a godsend, one of those rare and wonderful occasions. 


MONDAY, OCT. 1, 2007

8:45 A.M. ? Put daughter on school bus. Drive to shop.  

9 A.M. ? Arrive at store and put out merchandise. 

9:30 A.M. ? Obligatory ?battery lady?: First customer waiting at door since 9:10 for a watch battery. 

9:45 A.M. ? One of our regulars comes in with two watches, charm bracelet and ring. Replace two batteries, weld charm on bracelet, retip missing prong. Finish 10:45. 

10:45 A.M. ? Begin refinish job on stock ring. Drop that to replace earring posts on ?hooker hoops.? 


11 A.M. ? Finish earrings and get back to ring. 

11:10 A.M. ? Customer comment about how much she loves her ring I did three years ago gives needed ego boost for the day. 

11:30 A.M. ? Finish, tag and restock ring. Begin removing rough emerald from matrix with diamond wheel for customer’s project. 

12 P.M. ? Succeed in separating emerald from matrix. Also succeed in making a mess. Clean up ? sort of. Lunch. 

1:25 P.M. ? Finally find directions online for changing sales tax in register. Tax goes up to 7.75 percent today. Need to figure out how to change the register. Got it! (Victory dance.) Starts raining. I think it was a rain dance by mistake. Must stop dancing. 

1:40 P.M. ? Answer phone call and get back to emerald. 


1:42 P.M. ? Customer ? phone ? back to emerald. 

2 P.M. ? Customer ? customer ? customer ? customer. 

3:05 P.M. ? Back to job. Glad I don’t have hair, I’d be pulling it out. 

3:20 P.M. ? Customer ? phone ?customer. 

4:06 P.M. ? Sit down again, light torch. (This seems to draw customers).  

4:07 P.M. Customer! Sensitive, neurotic, abrasive and very picky, but spends $$$. Must cater to her. 

5:35 P.M. ? Borderline sociopath by now. Wondering if I can get Jack Daniels in an I.V. Back to work 

6:06 P.M. ? Turn off torch, turn off ?Open? sign, start to put away. 

7 P.M. ? Leave shop. Crank up Stevie Ray Vaughan. Arrive at another shop to drop off and pick up work. (I do work for another store.) Arrive home. 

TUESDAY, OCT. 2, 2007

8:45 A.M. ? Put daughter on school bus. Go to work jamming to Daft Punk. 

9 A.M. ? Arrive at store, put out merchandise 

9:30 A.M. ? Open ? sit down at bench for work. Size a ring, set a diamond. 

9:45 A.M. ? Crisis of the day! Hysterical wife calls from her office. Son marked absent at school. Is he home sick today? What? I put him on the bus myself. So where is he? Call the school, calm, but concerned. Bus broke down, taken to school on different bus, late, missed homeroom, all other kids checked in at office. As usual, he was off in la-la-land, didn’t pay attention to the instructions and went straight to his first class. Everything’s all right. 

9:49 A.M. ? Reinstall heart in chest. Consider Valium.  

9:50 A.M. ? Back to work. 

12:10 P.M. ? UPS delivery. Large shipment of the same Bulova clock? Note to staff: Make sure item numbers and quantities are correct when we place an order. They will send you exactly what you specify. 

12:15 P.M. ? Lunch ? firehouse chili! 

12:35 P.M. ? Back to the bench 

1:20 P.M. ? Customer’s phone call has me considering barber college. (See inset) 

1:25 P.M. ? C’est la vie. Back to work. 

4:45 P.M. ? Call in orders to stone supplier and mounting company, then back to work. 

5:15 P.M. ? Customer. Brought in warranty repair on her watch. When she brought it to us, she was told it would take them about a week to do it after they get it from us. She brought it in last Tuesday. We mailed it Thursday. So where’s her watch? (They probably just got it.) It should be back by now! Tried explaining that we needed to send it there and they need to send it back. Starting to wonder about studying the processes of the human mind now. Last time I checked, the post office does not do same-day delivery to New Jersey from Cleveland. Do people not understand the process of factory warranty service? Sheesh! 

5:20 P.M. ? Like I really needed that today. 

5:21 P.M. ? Shotgun a can of Mountain Dew. Back to work. 

5:55 P.M. ? Overrun by customers. At least seven. None seems to care that we close in five minutes. Seriously trying to figure out the Jack Daniels I.V. thing. 

6:15 P.M. ? Turn off ?Open? sign. Breathe sigh of relief. Put merchandise away. Depart the battlefield. Enjoy the soothing strains of Metallica on the way home. 

Shop is closed today. One day to re-establish partial mental stability. 

8:45 A.M. ? Put daughter on school bus. 

9 A.M. ? Work on stones for GIA gem identification class. 

11 A.M. ? Get FedEx from Darling Gem Imports. 

3:25 P.M. ? Oops. I forgot to eat lunch. Get UPS from Stuller. Go to parents’ house and help with some outside stuff. 

9:30 P.M. ? Tag some of my merchandise and answer e-mails. 

THURSDAY, OCT. 4, 2007

8:45 A.M. ? Put daughter on school bus. Go to work. 

9 A.M. ? Arrive at store and put out merchandise. 

9:15 A.M. ? Pleasant but slightly kooky lady wants in ? can’t or won’t read sign on door. I try to tell her to come back in 15 minutes, but she begins telling me her family history ? needs batteries for her watches. 

9:30 A.M. ? Open door and listen to her tell me about the fantastic seniors center down the street while I change her batteries. Then politely excuse myself to get to work. She says that it’s OK, and continues to tell me about her high-school days. 

9:50 A.M. ? Take a call from my customer in Florida. She loves the pendant I fabricated for her. But ? (There’s always a ?but.?) After listening to her tell me about all of the minute little things she found wrong, I told her to send it to me and I would correct all of them and get it back to her ASAP. Spend the next 10 minutes listening to her try to decide to use UPS, FedEx or U.S. mail. She finally said she would call and let us know what she decided. Decide that I support the aerial spraying of Prozac. 

10:30 A.M. ? Get a visit from the most jovial Cleveland cop I’ve ever met. He’s one of our regulars. He brought us some doughnut holes and his broken ring. We share a couple of laughs and catch up on our families. He goes on his way greeting every person in the store, telling them about what a great place we have. Gotta love ya, Jeff! Reconsider endorsement of Prozac. 

10:40 A.M. ? Get to work on the ?couple weeks? lady’s job. 

12:15 P.M. ? Lunch ? with fresh habanero peppers. 

12:35 P.M. ? Get back to work. Spend the rest of the afternoon intermittently helping customers and finishing some of the jobs on my bench. 

6 P.M. ? Turn off torch, look at overflowing jobs box, then stare longingly at the ?beaches? calendar behind me. Time to put away. 

6:55 P.M. ? Get Dad and Fran out the door. Crank up Van Halen and get to work on ring for tomorrow. Alarm company calls. Oh sheesh! I forgot to extend my exit time. Nice to know they care. Back to work. 

8:05 P.M. ? Exit store and get going. Drove Dad’s car today because it’s a stick. Mom’s car is in for service. Mom drove my van, and Dad took hers to the mechanic. Deliver Dad’s car and get mine. Arrive home and start tagging merchandise. (The label printer is hooked up to my home computer).  

12:50 A.M. ? Finally finished with store signs and merchandise. Check e-mail and get to bed. 

FRIDAY, OCT. 5, 2007

8 A.M. ? Small domestic crisis! 12-pound Jack Russell eats a pound of food, table scraps and a quart of water. Makes mess on kitchen floor. Son sees the mess and makes a mess of his own. Time for him to get on the school bus. Wife leaves for work. Gotta clean up. 

8:45 A.M. ? Put daughter on school bus. Go to work wailing out loud to The Barber of Seville. Feel like some opera today. Get a couple of odd glances from other motorists. 

9 A.M. ? Arrive at work, start putting cases out. 

9:30 A.M. ? Deal with customer who put an item into our six-month layaway in January. She insists on a refund. I try to explain the conspicuously posted store policy multiple times, but to no avail. She finally leaves after accepting a due bill. Must ? have ? coffee ?. 

9:40 A.M.? Happy customer time! Longtime customer comes in to pick up a job I did for him in April. He absolutely loves it! Been having some money issues. He’s a good guy and a Vietnam vet, so I don’t mind him taking a little longer. (Do a victory dance ? just a small one in case it was the rain dance.) 

9:55 A.M.? Sit down at bench. 

11 A.M. ? Customer comes in for an appraisal and some sizings. One of the rings was a plated costume piece set with CZs. I tell her I couldn’t size the ring. I just mention in passing that I could duplicate the ring in gold and set her stones in it, but it could be quite expensive. Gave her the price with some discount for setting 29 stones. She gladly agrees to it. It’s surprising. Sometimes the jobs you don’t expect to go through, do. Pretty cool.  

12:30 P.M. ? Lunch ? more habaneros ? yum. 

1:05 P.M. ? The work isn’t going to do itself ?. Call Florida customer to tell her that we got her pendant. I tell her to just leave it to me. I would get it just perfect for her. The warranty repair lady from Tuesday comes in looking for her watch. Dad explains again how the process works. She is rather put off by the idea that Coserv doesn’t have a 24-hour turn-around time and that everything doesn’t fly around the country FedEx Next Day. I need coffee ? leaded. Back to the bench. Do a couple of quick repairs for two very friendly gentlemen. Usually we would have them leave the job and then get to it later, but today, just for being nice and asking nicely, I do it on the spot. Customer on the phone. Fran asks when her job will be done. I tell her as soon as I finish the four or five on my bench. Back to work. Some teenagers come in and want to see ?y’alls’ best engagemint rang.? Mildly entertaining. 

5:45 P.M. ? Back to the bench. Close up shop, put cases away and clean glass. Leave for home. Turn up the Sammy Hagar! 

7:15 P.M. ? New clerk at the gas station on the way home is swamped, so I help pump a lady’s gas because he couldn’t get out to do it. She is pleasant and appreciative. I give her one of my cards. Can’t get too much free P.R. Sit down at the computer to come up with some store signage.  

SATURDAY, OCT. 6, 2007

7 A.M. ? Arrive at shop. Take a minute to look around at the sky and beautiful sunrise. Still quiet in the neighborhood and the birds are quite relaxing. Better get inside to finish two rings due today. 

8 A.M. ? Make pot of very dark coffee. 

9 A.M. ? Dad arrives at store. Start putting out cases. 

9:30 A.M. ? Open. Take a call from a woman who lost a repair during our break-in last month. She claims her five-year Seiko watch from her former employer was worth $300 10 years ago. (By the way, she hates that employer, but, being that the watch has been stolen, it has moved to the top of her ?most treasured items? list.) She states that the watch must be worth at least $500-600 today. Ummm, don’t think so. She would happily take a check, please. Dad wants to just give her a Bulova. I’d rather stand my ground and verify the actual value of the watch today. Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion to our adventure. 

10:10 A.M. ? Need fuel. Get coffee. 

10:15 A.M. ? Sit down at bench and try to get something done. 

10:44 A.M. ? One of our customers stops in and cheers me up. She’s always smiling. Get a quick recharge from her. 

10:55 A.M. ? Back to work. 

12:15 P.M. ? The watchmaker comes by the store, and I help him fill in a worn spot in the movement top plate. Seems somewhat surprised to see I can actually do delicate work. 

12:35 P.M. ? Lunch ? make French onion soup. It opens the floodgates: Lots of people sense the warm food and rush in to see if they can cool it off for me.  

1:15 P.M. ? Reheat soup ? customer ? customer ? customer. Reheat soup ? customer ? customer ? customer. 

1:55 P.M. ? Back to work. Customer ? many repairs all at once. Customer brings in a very dirty 10K garnet cluster ring. I look at the ring and determine that there are two prongs completely worn off and the gallery underneath is worn through. The two prongless stones are being held in place by dirt, and all of the other prongs are paper thin. She seems adamant about getting some sort of assurance from me that once I have retipped the two prongs and fixed the gallery, the ring would be perfect. I explain that would not be the case. She agrees to have the minimum work done. Of course, she also has issues with the $60 price tag for the two prongs and gallery reinforcement. Customer departs the store and the room brightens. Back to the bench.  

5:45 P.M. ? Last customer leaves the store. (We close at 5 P.M.) Put away cases. Empty trash cans, vacuum store and mop the floor. Call alarm company to extend exit time. Head for home. AC/DC out loud, baby! 

TUESDAY, 1:20-1:25 P.M.


A customer calls, claiming to have dropped off a repair three weeks ago and asking for the status. I look up the job number and find it was dropped off last Thursday. I remind the customer of the drop-off date and that I hadn’t had a chance to look at it yet.

AL: I’ll probably be getting to it around the end of next week.  

CUSTOMER: But you told me ?two weeks.? 

AL: Yes ma’am. It takes me a couple of weeks to get the jobs done. 

CUSTOMER: Oh, now it’s a ?couple? of weeks? 

AL: Yes m’am, that’s what I said. 

CUSTOMER:(Angry now.) But you told me ?two weeks? when I dropped off the ring.  

AL: Yes m’am I did, and it will be done in ? 

CUSTOMER: So what is it? Huh?  

AL: Two weeks. 

CUSTOMER: But you said a ?couple? of weeks! 

AL: A couple is two weeks. 

CUSTOMER: Just what kind of operation are you running there? 

(I now have the soundtrack to Abbot and Costello’s ?Who’s on First? running through my head.

AL: Ma’am, nothing’s changed. It will be ready when I told you it  
would ? 

CUSTOMER: I don’t need your (expletive deleted) attitude! Maybe I should just come in there and take my (expletive deleted) ring! (Slams the phone down.)

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