24 December 2009

'Tis the Season: Part 4 and Happy Holidays

I didn't work this last Saturday (it was the weekend before Christmas and the "powers that be" decided it would be so-much-better-for-desperate-customers to staff the customer service desk with people who have less than one months' experience rather than have the experienced booksellers even working at all; Merry Christmas and ho-ho-ho).  On to the funnies (or not so funny as you'll see):
  • A customer kept exclaiming "Epic!" at the end of every sentence while I was explaining how store orders work; it got so bad I started wondering whether he had Tourette's or a drug problem (maybe he just gets really excited about the little things, who knows)
  • Some lady complained that we didn't have enough staff working (lemme explain some basic economics to ya...)
  • A toddler was having a completely serious half-English/half-gibberish conversation with a plush Cookie Monster in the midst of the chaos that is the children's section during Christmas; outside of my own nieces, that's probably the cutest thing I've seen in a very long time
  • At an author signing, someone asked the author's publisher (publicist? didn't quite catch who that guy was) if the book had any vampires in it; the publisher/publicist said "No" and the author jumped right in and said "Yes, tell them yes! It can have anything they want in it!" (the book is a novel about a father-son relationship; the author was being completely sarcastic but the publisher/publicist didn't look terribly amused)
  • A mom had a long list of classics her English-major daughter wanted for Christmas (Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey, Adam Bede, Barchester Towers, Mrs. Dalloway, Sons and Lovers, etc); I had everything in the store but two titles (out of about 14, she bought nine of them); she was so happy I found everything for her in under 5 minutes, without having to look it all up on the computer, that she asked me to recommend a book for her to read for fun "just for myself" - I had her buy The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (having a happy customer ask for a personal recommendation is as good as a gushing "thank you" in my book)
  • "I need a book that tells you how to use those sticks" - dead serious, that's an exact quote; so I'm like sticks....chopsticks? um, I-ching? camping?....  Nope, knitting needles; his wife wanted to learn to knit (oh boy, do I have a lot of knitting books and, BTW, here's a card for my favorite LYS, the owner loves to teach new knitters)
  • Someone was looking for books to take to a friend living in a foreign country and read me off a list of "banned" authors she found online but didn't know anything about: Khalil Gibran, Chinua Achebe, Milan Kundera, Iris Chang, JD Salinger, and Salman Rushdie; I didn't even have to type anything to find books for those authors in the store because, well, I know who all of them are and at least one of them has a notorious literary history (you guessed it, I went straight for The Satanic Verses because the customer had no idea Rushdie had a fatwa issued against his life in the 1980s...and that's like OMG, HUGE...and then she asked me what a fatwa is/was so I explained...and then she told me she grew up in a Muslim country...and now I'm thinking "What the hell?"  I recommended a few other titles - Midnight's Children, The Prophet, Things Fall Apart, The Unbearable Lightness of Being - but she went with The Satanic Verses; never underestimate the power of banning a book/threatening the life of an author on the ability to attract attention like a black hole)
  • two days before Christmas a customer complained that we had nothing he wanted to buy as gifts; he wanted all the popular stuff we sold out of over the weekend and are waiting on a re-stock to arrive (it's not my fault you saved your Christmas-gift shopping until the last minute and you want the hot items your fellow humans beat you to because they were smart and went shopping over the weekend; you need to shut up and buy some gift cards)
  • I don't know what's in the water lately but customers keep asking about my "I read banned books" button attached to my name tag (I wear it all the time; no one asked me about it during Banned Books Week); best question came from an older man who asked me what banned book had I read most recently (I'm still reading The Satanic Verses and finished American Psycho in September)
  • also had a customer get snotty with me because I refused to sell her a copy of a book we were holding for another customer (lemme explain the concept of first-come-first-served: we take holds over the phone and Internet so next time call ahead before you drive two hours to buy something we can't sell you because another customer asked for it before you did; PS: I am impervious to whining, complaining, and bribery)
  • a very lovely specimen of the human race smeared feces all over a stall in the women's room (we didn't find it until after close because no one told us about it and I can guarantee it happened after 930pm because that was the last time I checked the bathroom for messes; none of us are paid enough to clean up dried-on shit)
And a little creep factor, just because it's Christmas:
  • A man who was previously observed "pleasuring" himself in the children's section of the store, and who got away before we could confront him (or have him arrested), was observed AGAIN in kids reading pornographic magazines and watching the little kids play with Thomas trains; a customer pointed him out but he got away before our kids' bookseller confronted him (consider this a PSA: we can't do much about this creeper/pedophile until we can get a good description/picture to the police - he disappears before we get a good look at him and the general description of "old white dude with a ball cap" isn't very specific - so please don't leave your children unattended in our store or in any store, period; we're not babysitters and there are some seriously bad people hanging around)
That's it until after the holidays.  Merry Christmas everyone!


  1. I hope you had a merry Christmas.

  2. We have a saying in our part of the world "May you live in interesting times". You certainly do. Love your descriptive style of writing.