Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lesson 2: Pricetags Are Overrated

I wanted to rip her little blonde head off.

There I was, off in my own little homicidal daydream. If I were in a movie, I would've done it in slow motion with epic music playing loudly in the background. I'd have left the store greeted by a parade of people cheering, chanting, and throwing high-fives. They'd lift me onto their shoulders and carry me into the sunset; a hero for all who have ever been openly invalidated.

Yes. That is how it should have happened. It would have been fantastic.

But it didn't. Let me explain.

My boyfriend, you see, has a thing for watches. If we were playing "desert island" he might even include one on the list of his top five essentials. He particularly likes the ones with the clear faces, so you can see all the working parts in motion. I don't wear watches, personally. I don't like the idea of something tick-tocking scornfully as I waste my entire day playing computer solitaire. Anyway...

One day, while spending the day window shopping, we passed a jewelry store with watches on display, so we popped in to take a look. One step through the doors and I could see the faces light up of the two women behind the counter responsible for greeting us. One of them came over (the blonde) asked how we were doing, and if she could help us find anything.

"No, thank you," we replied. "We're just looking."

"Well let me know if you need anything! Oh and the bridal section is right over here."

Oooooh, sneaky-sneaky.
We continued to gaze at the different timepieces, my boyfriend oohing and ahhing over various makes and models. Behind me, I heard the sound of heels digging into dense carpet.

"Have you ever been in before?"
"Um, no. We were just walking by."
"Oh well then you haven't seen our engagement rings!"
"Well no I haven't, but really-
"Here let me show you!"
"No really I'm fine we're just-
"What kind of mount do you prefer?"
"Well I'm not really sure what a mount-
"What kind of cut do you prefer?"
"Um, I don't know I've never-
"A lot of people like the princess cut, like this one here."

Good God woman! I finally joined her at the opposite counter. I didn't want to, but I figured hey, what's the harm? I can't buy anything, so I might as well make her do some work if she was going to be so pushy.

I also want to point out that this puts Chris (my boyfriend) in a difficult position. We've been dating roughly 3 1/2 years, have discussed kids, marriage and the whole kit-n-caboodle, so what is he supposed to say? "Leave us alone, please. I'm positively not interested in any kind of future committment with my girlfriend." It's a complicated situation. He shrugged and watched me slowly walk over to the dark side.

She proceeded to show me every kind of sparkly circular band she could dig up. And since she was asking my opinion, I was being honest.

"What about this?" she asked, taking one out of the dark blue velvet box it rested in.
"Too big."
"Or this?"
"Too big."
"Too big."
"The diamond is too big?"
"Yes. All of it is too big. I'd rather have something very small."

She showed me another, and another, and another. Too big, too big, too big. Her frustration was becoming apparent.
"Well what kind of ring do you envision for youself, then?"
"Something very simple," I replied, wistfully. "A simple band, no detail whatsoever, and a single, tiny stone on top. That's all. It doesn't even have to be a diamond, really."

She looked perplexed. "Well I guess it's more sentimental that way..."

It was a kind of backhanded compliment, and I knew it. But it's completely true. I don't want anything fancy or extravagant because I like the idea of a ring symbolizing the love two people share for each other, not the amount of their income. I'd also rather Chris pick it out so that the sight of it on my hand reminds me of him. Yes, call me a bit odd, but I find it incredibly romantic. Three months wages? I couldn't care less! Give me something that is durable and will last long into our old age. Something that will survive toddlers, teenagers, cancer, and unstable porch swings. If that happens to be a petrified watermelon flavored ring pop bought at a garage sale, then so be it.

Finally, she showed me a ring in a different case.

"Now, what about this?"
"Too big."
"Well, " she scolded, "that's the smallest diamond we carry. If you want smaller you are going to have to special order it."

She abruptly locked the display case, turned and joined the other woman behind the back counter. I was dumbfounded. I hadn't even wanted to look at rings in the first place! Taken aback, I clumsily started back to join my boyfriend when something caught my eye: earrings. Stud earrings. Tiny stud earrings. I felt triumphant.

"Like this!" I shouted. "This here! If I could just put one of these on top of a plain band it would be perfect!"

Chris turned and joined me at the counter. The blonde woman rushed over.

"What, now?"

I pointed at the flat display of small diamond earrings ranging in a variety of sizes.

"That one, there, at the very, very bottom."

She pulled it out and pointed to one in the middle of the display.

"No, below that."
"This size?"
"No the one on the very bottom. The smallest size."

She moved her finger down the list until she arrived at what could have possibly been a microscopic piece of glitter.

"Yes," I said, victorious. "It's perfect."
She looked up and her eyes met mine. She tilted her head to the side and then, coldly, from her thin bird-like lips came:


She rolled her eyes and put the display back. I looked at Chris just in time to see his shoulders drop. This woman, in one word, had shattered the self worth of the man I love. She had knowlingly confirmed the false belief held by many: if a lady says she wants a modest wedding ring, she's lying.

She's settling.

I absolutely wasn't settling, but it was too late. Chris looked all but broken. As I said earlier, I wanted to rip her little blonde head off.

We left the store reminded of a predicament familiar to anyone living below the poverty line. Do I really desire a small, dainty ring with minimal embellishments or am I just attempting to spare the feelings of my financially strained future husband?

My answer? I honestly don't even need a ring. I'm a 26 year old broke college student hopelessly in love with a baseball coach. As long as he agrees to spend the rest of his life with me, I am perfectly happy. Someday, when one of us inevitably widows the other, I highly doubt the amount of money spent on anything will be a point of interest in the eulogy.

So like I said, pricetags are completely overrated.


  1. Love this post. I've been blog stalking you for a few days now. I like your theme. I'm poor too. But not a college student.

    Anyway, I want a small ring too. I'm just not into big, eye-catching jewelry. I want something small and simple too.

  2. Very nice and to the point, I would have scratched that sales lady's eyes out!


  3. Love this post. I just happened upon your blog and I adore it. Keep up the fantastic posting!


  4. Wow, it's easy for me to sit here and say that I would have tried on the biggest ring in the store, only so that it would leave a bigger mark when I punched her in the face. Unfortunalty, I'm hoplessly and eternally terrified of conflict, and probably would have handled the situation very similarly! Just know that your ring is just that. Your ring. You can have it anyway you want. And now, she will just have to deal with one less ring commision on her next petty paycehck. I applaud the way you outwardly kept your cool, even if you were feeling minute on the inside!



  5. This was an AWESOME story-I can kind of relate: my wedding ring isn't made of something fancy like white gold or platinum...I think it's like pewter or steel, LOL. Anyway, my husband felt bad because we couldn't get anything nicer and I had to explain to him that I didn't WANT anything nicer. It was a ring I picked and and adored and only cost $80 before shipping...and I get compliments on it all of the time. It represents our vows on our wedding day, NOT how much it cost.

    Story well done!

  6. Lovely post. I'm agreed that you want something that you can wear through everything life throws at you, something that will last in the same way as the marriage. Ignore people like that who probably get paid on commision. You can't put a price on what you believe.

  7. I lost my real ring a few years ago and insurance paid out. I put it all into savings and I'm buying myself something lovely big and fun from QVC. No way I'm ever paying for something real again! Not worth it. Thanks for your nice comments on my blog! Leah

  8. You've got to wonder what her story is, to push you so hard to look at the rings and then judge your choices. I say, stick to your guns about what you want. My husband chose my ring on his own and it was simple and tasteful and I will cherish it all the more because of what it stands for, not for what it set him back.

  9. Good Heavens!! You made me laugh and cry within the space of 5 seconds! Guess that's why I love you so much!! Maybe if more people were more focused on the relationship instead of the ring, marriages might last longer! Bring on all that life has to throw at you ~ you two are firmly planted! (especially the toddlers!!)

  10. I stumbled on your blog and I could not agree more. I have been with my boyfriend for 4 years. We have a house, dog, cars, and get the marriage question entirely too often. Maybe we will marry. Maybe we won't. Either way it will happen on our own schedule but I look forward to being old with him.

    You're a fantastic writer and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  11. Rude AND Shallow. A dangerous combination.

  12. Oh my god!! How did you not tear her head off?? I was clenching my jaw as I read! I love that you just want something that survives 'toddlers, teenagers, cancer, and unstable porch swings' I agree completely. Great writing once again :) x

  13. I love your writing style! You kept my interest the whole time!

    And I agree with you. The size of the ring shouldn't matter. In fact, I would be constantly worried about losing a ring if it was worth a lot of money. I like jewelry, but not super expensive jewelry.


  14. Oh, i would have come up with zippy one liner...right after leaving the store. What a shallow brat! Great post!

  15. I enjoyed reading this story.. You should like report her lol she was passing judgement. I wouldn't do that but if you did, it would be a nice blog topic :) but thats funny that you write lists about what you've already did. That's actually a good idea I feel like I don't do anything during the day.

  16. This is what terrifies me of even walking into one of those stores!!!

    If I ever get a ring (ha!) I want the same as you- as simple and small as possible. Now I know what to expect though going in so at least I will be prepared : )

    Thanks for the comments on my blog- always nice to hear from someone. I'm following from Ah, the possibilities- but will stick around because budgeting and being poor are very close to my heart- as in I am so tired of being poor!!!! I think your blog has a lot of potential so keep up the good work.

  17. Hey Marlee!

    I'm glad I found your blog! Keep up the great work!!!

    Common Cents

  18. I completely agree with you Marlee. At one point when talking flippantly about marriage with a significant other, I got the opportunity to explain that I don't want a diamond, definitely not one bigger than my hand but would rather something that signified our relationship. A wooden ring or a small, simple ring that he had chosen.

    Good for you for standing your ground, and I am sure your values will show through to your man.

    Another wonderful post. :)

  19. Great post. It made me laugh because my DH works in such an establishment, so I get to hear the stories from the other side of the counter from time to time.
    You're totally right though, that lady was super pushy.

  20. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    You hang in there. I dated my husband for over 8 years before we got married. We experienced pushy salespeople -and pushy family members.

    By the way, you are right. I work at a funeral home and I have NEVER had a widow/widower state one thing about their ring....or lack of one.

  21. Thanks for the comment on my blog - just spent time reading every post you've made on yours haha. LOVE IT. Definately a follower now! :)

  22. You should seriously write a book. This blew me away. Especially at how arrogant and ridiculous the blonde woman was. It was her job to satisfy customers with what they want; instead, she was pushy and rude. Anyways, I'd just like to return the favor of a comment because you've commented on my page too :) I'm definitely going to follow you. Your so funny. <3 Don't stop what your doing because you seriously brightened up my day. I had such a crappy day and after reading this, I started smirking and laughing in my psych lecture class! >_< LOL Hope your having a great day today :)

    <3, Megan

  23. Thank you all for the support! I remember leaving the store feeling completely deflated, but now when I look back I just feel bad for the sales lady, who knows what her story is. But I feel so much better knowing there are others out there who aren't so focused on a big expensive ring! Thanks for the nice comments!

  24. I don't know about the difficult position (it seems like whatever he said to someone so inappropriately demanding would have been justified) but that is SO strange to me that she thought it was her job to push you two into a commitment when you were looking at watches (for cryin' out loud!).

    I agree with you on the price tag thing. It's nice to have a ring, and the size/price is, for some reason, very important to some people. But ultimately the ring can only symbolize the commitment, not provide it. And the symbol is the very least important part of that particular equation.

    I'm sorry, sorry, sorry she made him feel so bad. If it's any consolation, I think he should feel proud of doing the financially responsible thing. I can't remember what size my ring is, and the band IS plain. But I know that when we got it, it was paid for then and there, not putting us into debt or making some sort of show or statement that we couldn't afford. Rather than thinking in terms of "settling" or not settling, maybe thinking of it as having made a very responsible financial decisions as a couple would help him feel better about the way things happened in the store. :-(

  25. Wow... that lady should be shot.
    You handled it better than I would have. Knowing me, I would've done one of 3 things:
    1) Made a scene before she even got to the engagement ring counter because she steamrolled over what the customer (you) were trying to say (I'm in sales... I know how a sales person SHOULD act!)
    2) Belittled her for being such a conformist or so materialistic that she thinks that diamonds are the end-all and be-all of engagement rings when in fact that "tradition" is most likely less than 100 years old and heavily endorsed by DeBeers (the single largest holder of diamonds in the world)... and the fact that I hate diamonds.
    3) Or I could've been really mean and get her hopes up by having her pull out the most expensive ring in the store, gush over how wonderful(ly tacky) it looked, and then tell her it's not big enough... and watch the hope of a big commission circling the drain...
    and all because she was rude.

    I think you should have ripped her head off!
    (btw... thanks for dropping by & commenting!)

  26. Angie - I was thinking along the lines of your #3. I am so passive aggressive though! I was thinking she could have done your number three and then at the end just said something like, "I just want to check out the prices at... (name of biggest store competitor) before I put any money down!" while walking out the door.

    OR he could say something like, "Well I already have a six kajillion carat diamond in the car I was going to give her over dinner IF she said that she didn't mind me buying this incredibly expensive watch I was looking at. I can't believe you ruined the surprise!!! Just for that I'm going to buy my new watch at (name of biggest store competitor) instead of here. C'mon sweetie! Let's blow this Popsicle stand!"

  27. Wow I totally should have done #3! I should have made her pull out the biggest ring she could possibly find then look up at her and say, "Really?" Haha oh that's would've been great...well now I know for next time anyway!!

  28. Wedding rings are overrated and in my opinion weddings are overrated, it doesn't mean anything. Married couples give each other shit, abuse each other, cheat and so do live in couples. Some have good realtionhips some don't. A piece of paper just makes it convenient for taxes or insurance/finance purposes. I cudn't care less about marriage. But each to their own..:)


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