T he stale smell of fresh paint still lingered in the house, though we’d moved almost five weeks before. I put out my arm and let my hands brush against the glossy walls. I wanted to paint it gray. Wanted the whole house in gray scale, like stepping into a black-and-white photograph.

“Did someone vacuum the life out?” Rafi had asked when I showed him the swatches. “It’s sophisticated and modern for an office, but really, I can hear our kids in therapy as adults: ‘My mother painted the house in gray tones.’ ” I laughed, it was funny, and true. It looked so sleek though, so that’s what I painted my workshop — no warm tones of happiness and sunshine, just the sleek elegance of cool metals.

My next client was arriving in ten minutes, I had to set up.

There was always coffee and tea, fresh fruit, and muffins at my meetings. People are willing to pay more when you treat them well. And those who come to a high-end jeweler expect certain services. I didn’t mind, I got to expense my muffin and coffee habit.

The chime rang and I opened the door. Took one look and hated her already. She was the super smiling, giggly type. And sweet, too sweet, it was fake. She was going to drive me crazy, I knew that. Her fianc? was with her, tall and aggressive and obliging to her.

We’d go over design concepts today, she’d coo over everything and I’d get a phone call tomorrow from him that she couldn’t stand anything, let’s start from scratch. I built my pricing structure around such people. I’d allow up to three changes without additional charge, after that it was $100 a change. It adds up quickly, and at least I feel compensated for my aggravation.

“I want something super unique,” she said, and took a banana-nut muffin that I knew would go untouched.

“That’s what custom jewelry is about,” I said. Fiancé leaned back in his seat, coffee in hand, let the women go at it. Fine, fewer opinions was easier for me. “How about you tell me a little bit about words or things that evoke the look you’re going for in your ring?”

Her eyes went up and to the right as she imagined. She splayed her fingers dramatically.

“Elves. I want like elves.”

Was this woman serious?

“Elves? Pointy ears?” I asked, keeping my voice steady and mouth in a line; I could not allow the smirk within to reveal itself.

“You know…” she gestured more, “super delicate, super detailed, long winding lines…”

I thought I maybe knew, did a quick Google search, and turned the screen around — “This sort of look?”

“Yes, yes!” She clapped her hands, and her fiancé startled. “Oh, Matt, I told you she was going to be fantastic.” Yay, she liked me, but seriously, a Google image search with the single word elves won her over. I glanced at her contact sheet, ah, she was referred by the Ben-Shachars, she had no idea about my work, just that I did expensive stuff that rich people buy. Her fiancé needed more convincing to enlist my services, hence her joy over a Google search.

Matt looked at me, and then at his fiancée, I looked back at the contact sheet. Her name was Susanna. Who had a name like Susanna these days without going by Susan or Sue? Matt wasn’t buying my Google search, good for him.

“Okay, I get the look you’re going for.” I drew a few lines on a sheet of paper to illustrate. “Do you know what metals you want to use, do you have a stone yet, or do you want me to take care of that?”

Susanna looked at Matt, I saw her lips go soft. Oh, she was gonna pout, oh please, don’t pout. It makes me so uncomfortable. I wished couples would work out what they want and don’t want before they came to me. Because push comes to shove, they’re not blaming each other when things go wrong, they’re blaming me, and I didn’t need that on my ledger Upstairs. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 554)