Sunday, January 22, 2006

"The Rocky Years"


Since I wrote about one of my jobs I had in the 1970's a bit back, I thought that this time I'd talk about my time that I worked as a manager of a crystal and rock shop in the 1980's.

I've always been able to adapt myself to any position I've had in life, except for factory work. Me and assembly lines just never seemed to mesh. I always liked to have a job that allowed me a certain respect of individual management. I guess that's because I've always had to put up with so much BS in life from so many, that at least, where I worked, I wanted some sort of escapism from the day to day routine.

Now, you've got to understand why we'd have "rock shops" in this area in the first place. It's because of being located close to Mammoth Cave, and Mammoth Cave National Park. "When" these rock shops first began, I haven't a clue, but I'd say as far back as the 1800's when tourism first started at the caves (and we have a LOT of caves around here besides "Mammoth"!), and tourists wanted a souvenier to take back with them.

Back in those days, there was NO preservation of caves and no laws against selling stalactites/stalagmites from them, so many such caverns suffered a lot of damage. Eventually, this was all stopped, but the tourists still wanted something to take back with them as a momento. So the rock shop owners started selling local geodes and such instead (and occasionally still illegally selling formations from caves on their private property).

But I personally never sold anything like that. Any onyx we had came from Mexico where it's legally mined and then carved into figurines. But I digress, as I said I wanted something that wasn't a routine job.

Working at the rock shop (from 1984-1989) gave me quite a bit of that. I hit it at just the right time when holistics and New Age themes were the rage. So, my customers were quite a mixture.

I'd have the typical tourist who saw rocks as they drove by, thinking they were ALL from the cave area, and stopping to buy them, to the serious mineral specimen collectors, to the New Age folk or those interested in Native American religion. I had to be a certain type of "actor" to deal with each of these sorts.

Naturally, to the serious mineral collector I had to be ALL business and serious about the specimens I pointed out to them, because they always knew what they were talking about and were looking for that certain something in the way of natural minerals to add to their collections.

To the tourists, I just had to be pretty much myself, and try to explain (millions of times) that not all of the rocks they were looking at were locally found, since we carried samples from literally all over the world. I had to explain to them that the brightly colored glassy-looking stuff that we had on stands outside the shop, was just that, i.e., glass "slag". People used it for decorative purposes in their yards, and it did indeed attract one's attention as they passed by, and got them out of their cars and into the shops where they could see the real minerals and crystals.

And then, the New Age crowd. Oh, now THERE I had to be the ultimate actor. I had to make them think that I was some sort of "crystal guru" and that if there was anything to know about various holistic uses of stones, I knew them for a fact. And, quite frankly, I carried that off rather well. There's no telling how many thousands of said folk I waited on or the thousands of quartz crystals, and beryl, etc.,etc. I sold them over the years. They thought me so knowledgable about such things that finally I started printing up some pamplets about various crystal uses. These things would cost me about .15 to print and sold for $3., so I made a LOT of profit from those considering that each printing was 500 copies and I sold out of 5 different printings! At one time, I was mailing these things out from orders all over the globe. I recall sending orders to India, South America, and even the (former) U.S.S.R..

Then, by the late 1980's, the holistic boom was over, or at least most of it. New Agers got away from just crystal use and more into Native American cultures, and my bosses grew more and more greedy and cared less and less about their customers in general, and I finally became pretty disgusted with them and moved on to another job.

But I met a lot of interesting people and made several friends along the way. Not just people using crystals to fullfile any wish they had in life, but people like a couple of Australian "healers", some nice Native American folk, some that claimed to be psychics, and some just "regular people". I also met some rather sad individuals along the way. People who were looking for hope in the form of a piece of 6 faceted silica, and many that would never realize that the power comes not from a stone, but from within.

And today, I'm glad that the biggest part of the New Age craze is over and done with, and people are turning back to traditional religions and concepts.

Not that crystals don't have a certain amount of energy levels, as that's been proven that they do.

But, for God's Sake, people, it's just a fu--in' rock.

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