"GOTCHA!", now we truly understand what that means- - -what an experience!. Just the other day, Lucette a seasoned and sophisticated salesperson, had a most disarming and unusual experience. A young couple walked into the gallery asking to see engagement rings. Ah,nothing unusual so far. The young man was pulling a large roll on suitcase. Again, we have many tourists who come directly from the airport, specifically to purchase something from Belenky Brothers, therefore the large piece of luggage did not send up any red flags.
Lucette was pleasant and helpful. The young man told her the budget and style he preferred. He explained that the woman with him was his girlfriend's sister who was aiding him in his selection. They were both most affable. Very quickly the fellow selected a ring to his liking. In retrospect, Lucette later admitted, he made his selection a little too quickly.
While guiding them to a desk in order to finalize the transaction, Lucette offered to store his suitcase in a locked area. He adamantly rejected the offer. That was the first thing that triggered some suspicion. He very carefully laid down his suitcase right next to his chair. After a short discussion Lucette asked how he intended to pay for the ring. At that point he bent down and slowly with great deliberation, unzipped the suitcase, leaned down and pulled back the flap. As he did this he maintained a vigilant observance on Lucette's reaction. The contents of the suitcase was most shocking!
Filling the cavity of the luggage were thousands and thousands of. . .pennies. Yes, you read it correctly, pennies. The kind nobody even bothers to bend down to retrieve any more.
Lucette stared at the masses of coins that filled the black suitcase, and then began to giggle. "Do you mean you want to pay with these pennies?" she asked
"Will you take pennies in payment?"
"Uh, well, I guess so, after all it is legal tender. But I must admit this is the first time anyone has ever made such a request."
The young man continued to explain that after the first date with his girlfriend, he knew he was going to marry her and began saving pennies to buy a ring. His father had done the same thing and it meant so much to him. Lucette was touched by the sentiment and suggested he might want to take the pennies to a bank. But no, he wanted to use the pennies for a direct payment. She offered several other suggestions which he declined. Trying to help this young man, Lucette volunteered to work with them to count the pennies. As you can imagine, counting several thousand dollars in pennies is a most daunting task. After 45 minutes they had managed to count $15.00. At that rate they would be working throughout the night.
Seth then whispered to Lucette it was getting late and she should have them return another day since he had an appointment and had to close the gallery. The young man was profoundly disappointed and pleaded for us to keep all his money in exchange for the ring.
At that poing a peculiar thing happened. Several strange men with video cameras and microphones entered the gallery. They were followed by many more people. Then a charming man, we later learned was the director began explaining. It seemed that the entire episode was similar to a 'Candid Camera' commercial for a well known nation wide chain. Unbeknownst to Lucette, there were hidden cameras placed in the gallery and the two "customers" who were actually actors were wearing hidden cameras. The director loved the way the entire scene played out and even made Lucette a temporary member of the Screen Actor's Guild in order for her to get paid.
It was a fun experience for all. Of course the entire staff of Belenky Brothers was in on the whole thing. Only Lucette remained in the dark. As soon as we know if our bit in the commercial has avoided the proverbial 'cutting room floor' we'll apprise all our clients. Who knows, Lucette may have a budding career?