22 December 2011

'Tis the Season: Are we there, yet?

The bookstore has been batshit crazy as of late.  People have suddenly remembered THEY NEED TO BUY CHRISTMAS PRESENTS and RIGHT NOW!  Which is a) a good thing for business, but b) kindergarten rules apply at the bookstore:

1.  If you (as a customer) see me (a bookseller) woking with another customer (showing him/her books, listening as the customer describes what he/she is looking for, looking something up on the computer while said customer looks over my shoulder, etc) DO NOT butt into the bookseller-customer conversation by saying "I just have a question."  Congratulations, so does the person I am currently helping.  Now you look like an inconsiderate jerk and makes me not want to help you at all.  The only exceptions are emergencies like "Call 911!", "I think there's a fire!", "I'm having a heart attack!", or "I lost my child!"  Trust me - I, and my fellow booksellers, will drop everything to help you in those situations.  Your need to find Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible does not constitute an emergency.

2.  Remember having to line up to go to the lunchroom?  The same principles apply to queue lines during Christmas (or any time of the year, really, and are totally not limited to bookstores).  Line-jumping because you are "in a hurry" only gets you redirected to the back of the line.  Pretty sure the people who lined up politely are also "in a hurry" but will be put-out because you budged in front of them.  And some of those polite customers are vocal if you do!

For the chuckles, some random gems from the season:
  • "I need a copy of Wine Spectacular."  (How about Wine Spectator?)
  • "Does the Elf on the Shelf come with the shelf?"  (Er, no.)
  • Related:  "Elf on the Shelf looks like it was resurrected from my Grandma's garage sale." (I completely agree...tacky and creepy...yet, I must sell them, boo.)
  • "Do you sell Wal-mart gift cards?"  (No, Wal-mart's up the road.)
  • "Do you sell Amazon gift cards?"  (This one always tempts me to just be really rude.)
  • "Do you have my class textbooks?"  (It was finals last week.  Some college student just assumed we would have copies of her $300 economics textbook on hand for her to use.  Because we're the library, donchaknow.)
  • "I need the book for the TV show."  (For serious, which TV show?  Game of ThronesThe Walking DeadSimpsonsMad MenDownton Abbey?)
  • "Do you have books about South Carolina ghost stories?"  (Says the customer with the "Shop Locally" button from the Chamber of Commerce; dudes, we are in IOWA...unless you want Flannery O'Connor, which is about as close as I can come with on-hand stock, we have to get that from one of the stores in South Carolina.  It took nearly 10 minutes for me to convince her that paying for the item in store and having it shipped directly to the recipient from our warehouse was equivalent to "Shopping Locally".)
  • "I need a book for my [insert middle-grade age here] grandson/granddaughter.  He's/She's an advanced reader."  (They're ALL advanced readers, every single one of them, yet when I actually get books that would be high school level - which is the level claimed - for a fifth grader those are always "too hard"; be honest with yourself and pick out something the child will actually read.)
  • "Do you have an abridged version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone?"  (Considering thsi is a children's book, written around a 4th grade reading level...no...but I do have a Sparknotes if you'd like that instead.)
  • "I want the English translation of Romeo and Juliet for my daughter in high school."  (Must. Control. Fist. Of. Death.  Please, take this No Fear Shakespeare edition and run before the literature snob comes bursting out of my chest to hurl vitriol at you.)
  • "Do you sell athletic socks?" (Not yet.)
  • "Do you have The Self?" (This was a toughie...after going around and around with some questions, I figured out she wanted The Help.)
  • "Do you have the book I Killed Lincoln?"  (Close...so very close....)
  • "This book is too long."  (It's George RR Martin, what did you expect?  We've only been waiting for YEARS for it.  Also, this was said about the new Stephen King...nothing out of the ordinary there, either.)
  • "This book doesn't have a Lexile score."  (Take it up with Lexile - and then tell your child's teacher to stop relying on a computerized system that downgrades Hemingway because he uses short sentences and won't score books in blank verse because the computer can't "analyze" them.)

Bonus:  Overhead at the hospital on Hanukkah:  "That's a mariachi band - it has an accordion." (No, that's a klezmer band - accordions are not exclusive to South of the Border.)

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