I used to think that bookstores were realms of peace and tranquility (it’s a place filled with books; how could anyone ever have a problem with that?), but since learned that this is not the case. I know that this is hard to believe, I got into an argument about it with a clerk from the Apple store just the other day.
“But it’s a bookstore! It can’t be that bad. People yell at us all the time when we tell them that we can’t fix their iPods.”
“Yeah, but the difference is that you know that they might yell at you. They might even have a semi-legitimate reason since you are telling them that something they’ve already paid for is broken. We can’t even begin to predict the customers here. It could be because we don’t have a book, or because we do have it. It could be because we refuse to honor another company’s discount. It could be because they’ve had a bad day and they need to yell at someone. We don’t even get to brace for it.”
In my time with the company I’ve had a woman throw a book at my head because I asked to please step into the line; customers scream at me/my coworkers that they are “useless, dumb,” and then never apologize when it turns out that the reason the coworker couldn’t find the book was because the customer didn’t supply the correct information; and the other night I had customers get into a yelling match (one yelling, the second apologizing and a third trying to get the first to calm down) in the middle of my magazine section. I can’t go into the saga of he said/he said because not only did it continue beyond my store, but one of the two participants was ended his evening in handcuffs. Just imagine something on Jerry Springer but dress everyone a little better.
Does it make me a bad person when I say that I’m glad that part didn’t happen in my store?
The incident did reaffirm the absurdity of all life though. During the verbal fight in my store, combatant 1 stopped yelling at combatant 2 long enough to tell the third man (who was just trying to calm everyone down, thus is not deserving of the combatant title) that “you should shut up and not get involved, fatty.”
After security helped herd c1 and c2 from the store, the poor man came up to the counter to collect his bag and ask, “Do I look fat? I mean, I’ve been called a lot of things, but never fat? You don’t think I look fat, do you?”
The answer was no, he wasn’t, but we had to spend a few minutes reaffirming this fact.
“No, you look fine.”
“You’re not fat. Don’t listen to him.”
“I’ve seen fat, and you are not it.”
No one told me that the definition of bookseller had evolved beyond “seller of books” to include “target of books, encyclopedia of facts, peace-keeper, bouncer, babysitter, priest, performing monkey, political sounding board, and positive body image consultant.” No wonder I’m tired when I get home.
Thanks for the sangria recipes.
What’s the weirdest/funniest thing that has every happened to you in a bookstore?