Wednesday, January 25, 2006

That Would Be an Order of Crazy, Hold the PC

Warning: Remember the venting? The ranting? Yeah, it’s got nothing on this week’s kind of crazy, so you might want avert your eyes as I vent my spleen.

Dear sweet son of a preacher man, what the hell is going on?

Is there going to be a full moon?

There’s a solid dot on the twenty-ninth (Chinese New Year for those who are following along on your calendars at home), does that mean full moon or no moon? I can never remember.

Something has gotta be goin’ on because the Crazies? Are. Out. In. Full. Force. And. In. My. Bookstore.

I’m not talking about the mentally ill. This is not one of those “We need more psych wards, everyone needs to be normal” rants, ‘cause normal? I have yet to see a working definition that I agree with and trust me when I say you don’t want me to get started on the historical societal pressures that define normality. There will be essays, people. Essays.

No, I’m talking about the Crazy-just-to-make-your-life-miserable-because-I-can-and-yes-I-must-never-been-socialized-because-people-do-not-ask-other-people-this.

And um, yeah…No. I don’t do that kind of crazy. I don’t do that kind of crazy in my store.

I don’t get paid enough to put up with some nitwits’ idea of a good time when it’s to harass the bookseller.

That’s what we pay Mall Security for.

First there was the guy who found those calendars offensive.

“Those calendars?” says you, “the ones with the naked chicks from Playboy?”

“You’d think,” says I, “but this would be the calendars with the nasty, nasty shirtless men in them.”

Just shirtless. Still possessing of the pants, but not of the tops.

The man-titty, it offends his eyes, his morals, the very fabric of the community he lives in. He wants those calendars of shiny pecks and glistening abs removed from his store, all the stores, and he’s not going to rest until it happens.

As always good customer service precluded me from asking him if this hate of the man-titty (and not the copious amounts of woman-titty as provided by the Hef and his girlfriends) stemmed from some deep homoerotic urges that he could not, would not bring himself to express.

It stopped me from inquiring about his relationship with his mother.

Or whether his name was Norman or Eddie.

The same customer service skills kept me smiling politely when the jerk-off looking for a rise started going on and on about how we “should all go visit this nice website about crushing the homosexual agenda in our country and how they should all be eradicated.” Waiting until the point where I was just about to dial mall security to pull his “Aw shucks, ma’am, you know I’m just screwing with you” routine.

Four people left my store during his little tirade because of what he was saying. I will not lose customers because some whack-job has decided that it’s fun to screw with the bookseller. For future reference, do not “screw” with someone who has ready access to a box knife and who can cry on command.

I would have never been convicted, and he sure as hell would have been shut up. The Police like me.

To the woman who fell asleep in the Children’s section—blocking the aisle—and then got pissy when we asked her to move on: this is not a hostel, and buy that magazine you just drooled all over.

To the women who left their children in the manga section, went shopping for several hours, and then came back for the kids but didn’t buy the books whose spines their children destroyed: this is not a daycare.

Not to mention, do you know what you’re children are reading and how many times I had to take explicitly marked “mature” material away from them? I charged $3.50 an hour back in the day when I babysat, and there has been much inflation since then, so buying one book? Is not going to cover the cost of having to step over your child, keep him from wrestling your other child, or stopping him from reading the wrong material. Next time I’m reporting them as unattended and you can claim them at the mall office.

Right back is not four hours later.

We’re booksellers, not bouncers, babysitters, shrinks, or sounding boards for your “jokes.” As a customer we try to give you the benefit of the doubt, and you are ruining it for everyone else when you act out just because you can. We’re here to serve, not to be served up on the platter of your humor, anger or selfishness.

So—here’s the benefit of the doubt thing I was talking about—I’m going to write off this week of non-stop “What the fuck” moments and blame it on the full moon (if indeed it is going to be full and not new—not that I would know because I never see the moon anymore), and call it good.

But if this continues? If the moon begins to wane and this behavior goes on unabated?

I have only two things to remind you of: box knife. Tears.

We may be little girls but we’re a hell of a lot meaner than we look.


Anonymous said...

When Clinton's bio came out and our store was swimming in copies someone would come in and flip the copies face down, all top copies were backward. ?????I love the book business' customers.

Bookseller Chick said...

I know! You wanna ask if their still eight years old on the inside. Liberals and conservatives alike do it in my store, which means Bill O'Riley is facing the corner at the same time Al Franken is. Sheesh

MaryJanice said...

Sweet merciful crap! Bad enough you have to put up with the rantings of the idiotically homophobic, but child abandonment, too? The first one is annoying, but not illegal. The second one IS illegal. Absolutely call the police if it happens again. You think Mommy Darling would hesitate to sue your store if something happened to the l'il abandoned darlings while under your care?

I'm so disgusted on your behalf, I can't even tell you.

lady t said...

I hear ya,sister. I've had some real ranters take up space(one gentleman kept pleading me with me not to sell a history book-which he had returned-because the writer was a supporter of Armenian genocide,in his opinion)but the stuff with the kids...oh boy.

I call them "stroller moms"-the ladies who have these major aisle blocking devices that they insist on dragging into the back with them(nevermind that
it's obviously that they're in a small store and they're better off leaving those babies up front)and then ignore their running all over-knocking things down-making a mess kids while they shop and/or grab on the cell phone.

That and people who take little kids into a store and tell them"We're not buying anything" yet let them either mangle a book or toy to keep them quiet as they get what they need. That naturally leads to the screaming match when it's time to go and of course,the little one wants to hold on to the unpaid for item for dear life.

Your blog is great,Bookseller chick-right on the money:)

jason evans said...

People suck.

Wendy said...

So much for my daydream of leaving library crap behind to open my own bookstore. Libraries have the exact same problems you just ranted about. My favorite was being accused of being racist when I asked a woman to show me her ID. Why did I want to look at her ID? She was signing her kids up for library cards.

So the bad news is that stupid people are everywhere. The good news, I guess, is that there is always vodka.

Douglas Hoffman said...

I think you'd love the bookstores in Berkeley. I remember how the street people would sleep in the aisles. The staff would come through, roust them, and they'd move to a different aisle and fall asleep all over again.

I feel your pain, BSC.

Garianne said...

Holy crap does this bring back the memories. I worked in a bookstore for 8 very long years and found myself nodding, laughing, and wincing in sympathy.

I hated all those parents who left us to "babysit" their kids. Drove me absolutely nuts - and I did call CPS a few times. Also loved all those folks who came in demanding a book. Course they didn't know the title, author, or even what it was about, but "3 months ago it was on the front display table and it's green with a white tree on the cover". Duh.

We had the requisite homeless people who slept in the aisles too. My favorite was the one who decided to take a bath in the sink. There's nothing like walking in on a wet and naked homeless guy in the women's restroom. Gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it.

There are days when I miss working in a bookstore but then all I have to do is remember days or even weeks like you just described and I'm cured. *shudder* (On the otherhand, everyone in my family loved to hear the stories I came home with so I can't say my days weren't interesting).

Hang in there!

Melanie Hayden said...

Well, aside from the fact that I'd be a much happier person if I didn't have to see Bill O'Reilly or Al Franken every time I wander into non-fiction, I have utmost sympathy. I'd love to be there on the day you report the child abandoning mothers to DSS.

And color me surprised--I had no idea you could catch The Gay from calendars, too. Is that why they're all wrapped in plastic? A sort of calendar condom?

Bookseller Chick said...

marjanice, thanks. It is illegal and I don't think these women have any concept. Their child is in a bookstore. Bookstores are safe and full of books. That's kind of like a library, right? Practically a non-sentient babysitter.

Oh Lady T, I hear you. Oh, how I hear you. I did a post on the stroller moms some time ago (and their urban assult strollers). I didn't mention the toy thing, but you're right. I've had to return so many items because someone let their child gum it to death. Glad to hear that I'm not the only bookseller experiencing this.

Yes, Jason, they do.

Wendy, for me it's the other way around. I always tell myself that it would be so much better in a library, and then I go read your blog and my dreams are destroyed. I think that anytime you work with the public there is going to be an element of suckiness (and pure-ass craziness) that has to be expected. Thank God for Vodka.

Ah, Doug. I think I've been in that bookstore. How horrible for them. I can only guess how much of a pain it is to get them to leave when the store is closing.

Garianne, you go girl! Your calling gives me hope. My store doesn't have a public bathroom so I've been saved the homeless bathing situation, but my sister store a little ways away had to install a lock and token system. More for the drug use taking place in their bathrooms and less for the bathing, I think. We should start a support group for booksellers, librarians and former booksellers/librarians. The former can remind the latter why they should never go back (my friends love the bookstore stories too), and the latter can give the former hope.

Oh yes, Melanie. The calendar gay transference is very prevelent, and the reason we don't let the men work in the calendar store. We're trying to save their precious heterosexuality by not exposing them to oiled abs and pecks. Man-titty overload can also cause blindness. As for the mothers and DSS, it would really depend on what kind of a mood I was in. Someday I'm sure it will happen.

Thanks for all the support, y'all!

FerfeLaBat said...


For the Homophobic ranter: "If you buy all of them they wont be there for the homosexuals. Do your part and put your money where your mouth is ... or ::Penetrating look:: are you afraid?"

For the parents who left their kids:

"I wasn't certain when you were coming back. Normally we do consignments at the other store but just this once we decided to make an exception. I've had several offers for them. My commission is %15 and I believe that gentleman over there ::point to any derelict nearby:: has generously offered $50k per child. Isn't it great we take American Express? Sign here please and it's all official." Remember to smile.

You are in sales. Sometimes you have to adjust with the consumer trends to close the deal.


Loved the rant.

Bookseller Chick said...

ferfelabat, I like the way you think. I'm not being a smart ass, I'm just following customer trends. (blinks innocently) Do you think the Boss would go for it?

FerfeLaBat said...

Bosses will allow anything that gives the appearance of sales innovation. You never know what crazy shit will work.

A friend of mine works in a winery in Sonoma Valley. Three women walked into the tasting gallery, dripping with disdain for all things not Napa Valley and proceeded to make my friend nuts with the insults. She said there was no way they were going to buy a bottle much less a case. I told her she was looking at them completely wrong. She should have asked, "What do you buy for the servants?" And encourage them to buy double the number of cases than they normally would because it costs a little less and the better you take care of the servants the better they take care of you. A sale is a sale. As long as they are buying it, they can call it vinegar all they like. Remind them that you ship so they don't have to carry anything out but a receipt.

FerfeLaBat said...

On a different note ... Great characters are everywhere around you. Rather than look at them as annoying pains in the ass, I tend to see them as a gift. You can't make shit up as weird as that.

Bookseller Chick said...

Too true. The problem is getting people to believe that these are real. Half the time I tell "bookstore stories" people don't believe me. "You're kidding, right?"


Anonymous said...

Why do you talk