July 27th, 2010

Jewelery appraisal swindling

Setting: Modern day USA (probably the South, if that matters)

I honestly have no idea what to google for this...

My character sells a necklace-and-earrings set to a jewelery store. It's a set her mother left her; the catch is that she has no idea if it's expensive, not-so-much, or nothing but a well-made insurance copy. (It is real, artistic jewelery with genuine stones, but she has no way of knowing it.)

She goes to three different jewelery stores trying to get an appraisal (with the hopes of selling it to them). Since she doesn't look like someone who'd know about selling expensive jewelery, and is having a run of bad luck, the first two places try to swindle her - either tell her it's a fake, or that it's real but not worth much. She knows enough to realize they're lying. The third place still cheats her, but this time she falls for it.

What I need are three different ways for the people doing the appraisal to try and cheat her, and several 'counter measures' she'll be thinking of - but which still won't cover the last one. I've heard a real story about a jewelery store taking expensive jewelery for appraisal and returning fake copies, but since my character is only passing through town, so this would need to be a simpler/shorter process of swindling her.

Description of the necklace and earrings: diamonds (different sizes - probably ranging from about 1/8th to 3/4 carats) and sapphires, individually set in gold. It would probably be helpful if I could find the picture I took the image from, but I'm failing at that...

Thank you all for any ideas!
Icon of Rassilon

Women as Song-Pluggers

Setting: Sometime between 1915 and 1935, in an urban setting that is heavily implied to be New York, but never stated as such.

Searched: Combinations of "song-plugger," "history," and "women."  Haven't found much besides a basic description of what a song-plugger is, and a few articles on modern-day song-pluggers.

Question:
Could a woman in her twenties get a job as a song-plugger (playing a piano in a music store in order to demonstrate sheet music) during the early twentieth century?  It's all right if it would have been unusual; I just need to know if it conceivably could happen.

If it could happen, how much would it pay?  Enough for her to live on?

Unskilled manual labour - what's available and what is it like?

Okay, I have a difficult, kind of specialised and rather complicated question (or rather, series of questions) which I hope against hope some of you can help me with.  Please bear with me if it's a bit waffly.
 

Background

It is 1996. We are in Ohio. My character needs a job. He is 18 (for the sake of argument), but does not have a high school diploma or GED. He can only work nights and weekends, is very fit and active and would prefer unskilled manual labour.  So bearing this in mind, please could you give me your thoughts on the following:

 

Question(s)
1. Currently, I'm thinking that he could get some sort of factory job such as working on an assembly line or some sort of other industry type thing. (Can you tell that I'm woefully uninformed about this?) I realise that most of these (certainly nowadays) require a GED and prior experience or training. So I need something which requires no GED, no experience and provides on the job training, OR where an unscrupulous employer might be willing (and able) to hire under the table and fudge it.

If this is a totally preposterous scenario, what kind of shift-work could he get which carries decent wages?  I specifically want a set of very macho colleagues and potentially dangerous work.

I have searched through several  'blue collar' classifieds (yes, they do exist) to get some idea of what type of jobs might be out there, and although I did find a lot, I realised I need someone to give me more in depth information about what might be suitable for my character before I can attempt to do any more specific research.

 

2. Within these parameters, can anyone recommend any blogs, articles, youtube videos, biographical stories, well-researched fiction (on the web) or books that I can get from my library which details personal experiences in this kind of work? Or if anyone has worked in this type of job, or knows someone who has, any stories you wish to share would be fantastic. I'm just looking for anecdotes that detail what the working environment is like; what kind of pranks and feuds come up between employees; what people get up to during a normal day; and what someone's specific duties are, if possible.

I have searched google generally, plus in every blog finder that google threw at me, the livejournal interests, plus through hundreds of bookmarks on delicious, but only found this, which is pretty much exactly what I want bar that it's covering the wrong timeframe. But I would obviously prefer not to have to buy a book if I don't have to, especially since it's set a little early.



ETA:  Thank you all for so many brilliant responses - I thought I was doomed on this one.  It turns out I've had to change the date to 1997 for other reasons, so the character will now have a GED.  I'd still love any anecdotes/info about the working culture, though.  Thanks again.

 

[Search terms I used were: factory, factory worker, blue collar, assembly line, working class, manual labor. All of these plus blog, journal, stories, experiences and diary in various permutations.]