Friday, February 28, 2014

Gemmologist, Tradingpostologist, Internetologist

It was 9:00 a.m., and I was at Twin Rocks Trading Post filling online orders. We were lucky enough to have received a few sales overnight, and I was grateful Al Gore had invented the Internet. As I printed a certificate of authenticity to send along with a 14k gold and Royston turquoise pendent, Danny, our Internet manager, walked in. Because Danny's pay is partially tied to web sales, he is extremely interested in how things are working out. As a result, he strolled over to check on my endeavors and exchange morning pleasantries. While we talked, a woman walked through the Kokopelli doors and began carefully perusing our inventory. Earlier that morning, when I stopped into the cafe to make myself a cup of hot herb tea, I had noticed the woman and three friends enjoying a leisurely breakfast. As I walked by their table, I overheard them talking and, because of their speech, concluded they were Brits.

When the woman drew near the sales counter, I asked where in the United Kingdom was she from. She stopped short, thought for a moment and questioned how I knew she was from the British Isles when she had not spoken a single word. "I cheated,” I admitted, explaining I had overheard her talking to her pals during breakfast. "Ah, I see,” she said in a crisp, clipped accent, "I thought you might be clairvoyant." "I wish,” I replied, "that might help me better understand how my wife thinks, and keep me out of trouble." The woman chuckled heartily and asked how long I had been married. "Over a quarter century,” I responded. "Love, if you haven't figured her out by now, you probably never will,” the woman advised. "Ouch!” I thought as she wandered on, "leave it to a British matron to ferret-out the heart of a matter and state her position in an unabashed manner.
Turquoise Map

Just then one of the lady's traveling companions walked into the store and spied her friend. They stopped at the case containing a variety of turquoise cabochons displayed on a turquoise map. This Priscilla inspired exhibit shows the location of many of the most recognizable mines and associated turquoise specimens. The newcomer shared her knowledge of turquoise, and it became readily apparent her understanding was not deep. Over many years of working in this business, and stumbling through life, I have discovered it unwise to point out the faults of others, so I let her comments pass without a response. I have also discovered that too little information and too much confidence can make us dangerous to others and ourselves. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and I am well endowed with the latter. Consequently, I find it best to keep my mouth shut. Well, most often anyway. Unless people corner me with a question, I remain reticent. It just so happened this woman felt secure enough to test her knowledge. She walked up to me and said with a cocky air, "New Mexico turquoise is, by far, the best ever mined in the United States. Wouldn't you agree?"

I know, for example, that Tyrone turquoise, from the Burro Mountains near Silver City, New Mexico, has been lauded for its exceptional quality and also advertised in several high profile magazines. Because heavy-hitter investors promoted it, early on Tyrone brought some of the highest prices ever paid for turquoise. I would not, however, say it is the best ever extracted from American soil. In spite of my point of view, I decided to tread lightly and soften my dissension by fastening a friendly grin upon my mug before answering. "Well,” I cautioned, every mine produces a wide range of quality, from good to bad. Additionally, each claims to have produced, or to be producing, the best turquoise ever discovered. If pinned down, I would argue your point. I prefer to take turquoise on an individual basis and independently decide the beauty and value of each stone." "Well,” the woman said, as if the statement would explain everything and finally settle the matter, "I am a gemmologist!" Since he knows I am a graduate gemologist, Danny looked at me in anticipation of a vigorous rebuttal. Danny also understands that over the last 40 years of working with and studying turquoise, I have developed a strong opinion on the subject.

To lighten the mood and add a little humor to our conversation, I said, "Well, I hold a doctorate in tradingpostology from the University of Bluffoonery." As they considered my statement, both women studied my smiling face to determine whether I was serious. Eventually, one grinned knowingly. The gemmologist frowned deeply and stormed out the door. As she tried to push her way out through the Kokopelli doors, she recognized the "pull" sign and reversed course, exited the building and left us in the lurch. Just before the door closed, I heard her reaffirm, "I am a gemmologist!" Laughing, I shot back, "I am a tradingpostologist!" The remaining woman smiled brightly as she pulled open the door and followed her friend. Before she left, I told her my degree was self-proclaimed, self-awarded and written in crayon. "I thought as much,” she said with a chuckle. She waved cheerily and departed. "A tradingpostologist?" asked Danny, "Sure,” I said, "after 40 years in this business I deserve a fancy title." Danny laughingly responded, "I guess,” as he made his way upstairs. Later that day, I overheard him explain to someone on the telephone, "Well, I’m completing my masters in Internetology."

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny; the team.

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