Me and the Denny’s Diamond Buyer. The Authors Collection.
June 2, 2013
I’ve heard that if you want to be a writer, having had a bucket load of many kinds of jobs is a good thing. I am not sure that is actually true, but I know that in my lifetime I have had those many jobs, and some of them produced some very interesting stories.
This one begins in La Jolla, CA. A few years before, I had met a woman who was selling colored stones (that’s what we were calling semi-precious stones back there in the olden times called the early 80’s) and was recruiting people to help her.
Game for interesting ideas, I joined her. There are quite a few stories attached to this, as you can imagine, but for now, this is a story of what happened after that.
Needing more money than she was offering, I decided to get a “real” job selling diamonds at a place called La Jolla Diamond. It was during the Harold Ruff days, following his book Hard Times, and people were buying them for hedges against – well many things.
When the phone rang at La Jolla Diamond, if the secretary wasn’t in – most of the time – anyone would answer the phone. One of those times, I spoke to a man who must have liked me, because every time he called in, he asked for me.
Eventually he struck a deal with the owner for me to travel over an hour north of LA, meet him at a Denny’s and sell him diamonds. Some of the diamonds I would bring with me were certified by the Gemological Institute of America; some of them were uncut with no certification at all.
This meant that I would take off to meet him with sometimes over $100,000 worth of diamonds wrapped in little white papers, in my pocket. I remember thinking how odd that was, traveling in my business suit, up the freeway, by myself, with all that wealth in my pocket to meet someone, that as far as I know, no one knew his real name.
He made sure that he was there a tiny bit before me and I would find him sitting at a table in the back of that Denny’s restaurant. I would display my little pile of goods, one at a time, until the table was covered with those little white packets filled with sparkles, or what looked like hard coal. Who knows what the waitress was thinking as she refilled my diet coke and his coffee. He would look through the mix, pick a cut diamond or two, and take most of the uncut diamonds.
The price was fixed because he knew that I had no power of negotiation; no cell phones in those days in with which to have that conversation anyway. After choosing, he would count out the cash for the diamonds and our deal was done.
Except, after the first time we met, it worried him that I wouldn’t be safe traveling with all that cash, so he started walking me over to the bank. After depositing the money in my employer’s account, he walked me back to my car. Business completed, I would head back to work with a little less wealth in my pocket.
What I remember the most was the trust on all sides. My employer was not known for his kindness, but he did trust me to travel with the diamonds. My Denny’s buyer trusted that what I was showing him was what it really was, and I trusted my buyer to be a gentleman.
Who was he? I don’t know. Now that we are so attuned to gangsters and bad things, I would be more likely to judge him, and his motives. No one would let me do now, what I was doing then. If for some reason we actually arranged to meet, it would have probably been in some dark place.
I think we are the poorer because of this. Yes, we need to pay attention to uncover what is not good in the world, but one reason what isn’t good stays so well hidden, is because we miss so much of what is good.
In losing a basic trust between each other, don’t we also lose the ability to see when something, or someone, is not trustworthy?
I treasure that experience. I love that I was trusted enough to be the one that made that drive. I love that I was willing to make that trip and meet my Denny’s buyer. I love the symbol of the cut and uncut diamonds; aren’t we all a mix of polished and unpolished qualities?
Although I don’t ever expect to do that kind of thing again, I want to remain that person that trusts, and is trusted. It seems more valuable, and maybe even rarer, than all those diamonds I carried on those trips.
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