Love rules at the pawn shop

A broken heart, a pawned ring and a trip to church all conspire

■ Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

When Mario Giacco from New York met Alex Johnson in Hemet things started to happen. It all started on a sort of blind date through Zoosk Dating Service, but wait…not to let the cart get ahead of the match-up!
In the summer of 2017, Alex (yes, she is a girl) received an insurance settlement check after an accident. She decided to treat herself and a best friend to something nice. Off she went to the jeweler to find a suitable ring.
“I had no idea exactly what I wanted that July afternoon as I sauntered up to the counter. A certain ring caught my eye. After trying it on, I found it to be an exact fit so I bought it.”
Zoom forward to January 2018 after a failed romance and falling down on her luck, she remembered that her ring might have value at a pawn shop, so she went to Perris Pawn in Perris where she hawked her treasured ring for a pittance of what it cost
“I expected to pay the monthly interest until I had the funds to redeem it.
“Somehow time slipped by and I forgot about the ring. I went back a few months later and it was still there. Then I promised myself I would soon get it back. Time went on and I forgot all about the ring.
“Meanwhile in January, after pawning the ring, I went online seeking social activities through a dating service. One guy struck up a conversation. When he asked me out to dinner, I wasn’t sure.
“Before I said yes, I did some research. He had an out of state phone number and New York residence. When a girlfriend dropped by I told her that I might go out with him. I’d discovered we had the same birth date, Aug. 10, which whetted my curiosity.”
My friend said, “Alex, you don’t know who this creep is. Be careful.”
“As they say about curiosity and the cat, I ignored her warnings and agreed to meet him for dinner at Milano’s in Hemet. It turned out to be a very pleasant evening, but I doubted I’d ever see him again.”
However Mario was a persistent guy. A couple of days later he phoned Alex and invited her out for ice cream on Sunday.
“I told him no, that I had to go to church. I hung up before he had a chance to say anything else. I gathered he was interested in me, but I had no plans to be interested in him – or any other fellow.”
After she hung up the phone, a pang of remorse hit her, so she decided to call him back.
“Mario,” she suggested, “maybe you would like to go to church with me.”
She didn’t think he would be interested in church, and that would be the end of that. Besides, she thought, what guy looking for romance expects to find it in church. However he said he would love to. Then began the long hot summer when they found out more about each other.
“Then,” says Alex, “I was at church with one of my friends, when life took a strange turn. The pastor was giving an altar call and talking about people who need healing and “I said, ‘I’d just like to pray for my aching heart.’ I’d been hurt emotionally and I wanted to heal. I was thinking of Mario, but at 56, I was
guarded about getting involved again.
“Within seven days of that night, I felt the universe was conspiring against me. I had no intentions of doing anything more than having a good time, much less becoming involved with this guy from New York. Although we’d been out a few times, I really knew very little about his background. He might have been another Jack the Ripper for all I knew.”
However she was listening to her heart, not any common sense. She allowed him to move in with her.
“He’d been talking about buying himself a ring, so I suggested that unless he wanted something new, I knew a pawn shop in Perris that had a nice selection of rings. He said, ‘let’s go.’”
So off they went. It was a pleasant afternoon in September. Mario kept looking in the showcase at rings for women, not men. She began to wonder what was going on.
He pointed to a particular ring in the case and asked the clerk, “Let me see that one.” As the clerk reached for his choice, she suddenly recognized the ring.
“‘Mario,’ I almost shouted, ‘that’s the ring I pawned last year and forgot to redeem.’”
“I’ll take it,” Mario said. “How much is it?”
“$1500,” the clerk replied.
By the time Mario left the store with the ring safely deposited in his pocket, he had bargained the clerk down to $800 cash.
“All the way home, I kept waiting for Mario to say something, but he just hummed a tune all the way. I began to wonder, what’s wrong with this guy.”
That evening he went upstairs to help his young son get ready for bed and showed him the ring.
“Dad, you’ve got the ring and we love Alex, so why don’t you ask her to marry you. I’ve never seen a guy propose except in the movies and that’s not like the real thing.”
“We’ll see.”
Downstairs on the patio, he related to Alex what his son had asked of him.
“Well?” she said.
“I’ll get him,” Mario beamed.
His son, Chris, came down in his night shorts and watched as his father get down on one knee (which Chris found embarrassing) and said, “Alex, will you marry me?”
“I immediately said, ‘yes.’”
Chris gave his father a high five and said, “It’s about time!”
And so my friends, a pawned ring is recovered and nuptials are just around the corner.
Who says some things are not destined to be? Next time you’re in a pawn shop, remember Mario and Alex.

Just sayin’

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