The Nicest Guy in the World

Sometimes, perhaps not often enough, people we do business with  are so nice that they make our day, sometimes even year: that really attentive waitress; that ultra-smart handyman; that honest and efficient car mechanic. And now we found a great jeweler in downtown Brooklyn, Mr. Jacques Renard.

Rita Corbeau and I needed to buy a nice magen david, Jewish star, for our youngest granddaughter. Jacques had been recommended to us by some of Rita’s fellow health-club members, so we knew that we could trust him. Also, and this was a surprise in hard-bitten Brooklyn, he turned out to be the nicest guy in the world. His grandfather had started the business, he told us, his father had continued it, and now, to him, it was his life. The star that Jacques selected for us turned out to be more expensive than we had expected, but what a star ! Beautiful. Jacques does not accept credit cards, but, perhaps to make up for that inconvenience, he accepted some of Rita’s old trinkets in partial payment. Jacques found that most of the trinkets had no value but he took them in to give to a local rabbi for charitable use. It sure saved us a lot of time and trouble.

That was two weeks ago. Yesterday I decided to go to his store once more. I needed a new battery for my watch. I realized that Jacques, having a quality store in an expensive location, would have to charge a tad more than the five dollars or so that I usually spend on that item. As before, Jacques was great. He took a quick look at the watch, opened it, slipped in a new battery, handed it back to me: “all done.” No more than twenty seconds had elapsed. That’s great, I said, what do I owe you ? “Twenty five dollars.” Twenty-five dollars ? What’s going on here ? Twenty-five dollars ? “But it’s good for five years,” Jacques said, “I know others charge less, but this battery will last five years.”

OK. I was taken. It was a Madoff-victim experience, but, in that light, really cheap. After all, is twenty dollars a lot to learn a lesson about human greed, and more importantly, human gullibility ? I did go to see another watchmaker whom I usually use, just to check. “A battery for that watch ? Five dollars, but it’s good for two years.” Is there such a thing as a five-year battery ? The man just laughed.

Obviously I should have checked on Jacques. But who will question the greatest guy in the world ? Had I checked the internet before getting involved, I would have found his record right here.

UPDATE, Jan. 9, 2011: I ran into that local rabbi whom Jacques had mentioned, the one to whom he would give Rita’s trinkets. Yes, the rabbi does know Jacques. And no, Jacques has never given him any jewelery “for charitable use.” So the rabbi and I rehearsed some of the more important Yiddish expressions one needs to get through the day. The one we needed today was ganev.

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