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    Category: Books & Reading

    Caused by stupid customers who know how to read (and often those who don’t!), feel for the poor librarians or book store clerks who are often tasked with finding a book solely by the color of its cover.

    Understaffed But Not Understood

    | Greensboro, NC, USA | At The Checkout, Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

    (On the day before Father’s Day, with a huge sale going on, the coworker who is supposed to come in to work with me doesn’t show up. I am swamped and can’t answer any phone calls. I just stay at the counter ringing people up. We are so busy that I don’t have time to call any of my coworkers to see if they can come in to cover the shift. There is only about half an hour until two other coworkers are coming in, so I just do my best until then. With a line about ten customers long, a customer comes storming up to the register and interrupts the conversation I’m having with the customer currently at my register.)

    Customer: “I need some help! Where is the employee who should be working the sales floor right now?”

    Me: “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but no one else is here right now. If you’ll kindly wait in line, I’d be glad to help you shortly.”

    Customer: “What?! This is outrageous! You should have more than one person working! Everyone knows that is just good business!”

    Me: “Unfortunately, there was a scheduling mix-up. I’m the only one here right now.”

    Customer: “But I need one of you to help me find something! What am I supposed to do? That’s what you all get paid to do! I am very busy and I need to get my Father’s Day gifts bought! I don’t have all day! Really, on a holiday, you should have more than one person working!”

    (Since the customer isn’t listening to me, I just turn back to serving the line at the counter. I finish the next customer, and try to explain the schedule issue again, but she’s not having any of it. One of our regular customers is standing nearby at a sale table and finally speaks up.)

    Regular Customer: “Ma’am, what is wrong with your hearing? She just explained to you that her coworker didn’t show up! I think she’s doing a remarkable job handling all of this by herself. You are just making things worse!”

    Customer: “All I need is to see if they have these items in stock! Can’t she see I am in a hurry?”

    Regular Customer: “As are most of us. It’s a busy holiday at a popular store. What do you expect? When people don’t show up to do their jobs it makes it harder on the rest of their coworkers, especially when there’s only one other person working!”

    Customer: “But—”

    Regular Customer: “Now, I don’t work here, but I shop here often. In favor of giving everyone in line and this poor employee a break, I’m going to help you find what you need. But only so you leave us all alone!”

    (I thank the regular and the two disappear into the back of the store. The customers in line make some comments. A moment later, the original customer storms to the front and out the door. I turn to the regular customer as she returns.)

    Me: “What happened?”

    Regular Customer: “You didn’t have the item she wanted. Her sale flyer was for the bookstore down the street.”

    To Kill A Flirtation

    | USA | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Books & Reading, Family & Kids, Pets & Animals

    (A man has just brought his two dogs in, named Scout and Atticus.)

    Me: “Your dogs are so cute and sweet!”

    Owner: “Oh, thanks!”

    Me: “I love their names! To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book! It’s a shame your last name isn’t Finch. Haha!”

    Owner: “Yeah… It’s also my wife’s favorite. My VERY pregnant wife. And three kids.”

    Me: “Oh, that’s nice.”

    Owner: “Yeah. I’m married. And I have three kids.”

    Me: “O… kay…”

    (Once the owner leaves, my boss starts cracking up.)

    Boss: “[My Name]! Stop hitting on our clients!”

    Me: “I wasn’t! I was just being nice!”

    Boss: “Oh, my God. That was hilarious.”

    Me: “But… I was just being polite and making conversation!”

    (After that, I was a little more careful with whom I struck up a conversation. The man and his family are now regular clients. I’m glad I didn’t scare them off!)

    His Lawyers Should Have The Book Thrown At Them

    | England, UK | Books & Reading, Language & Words, Top

    (I work as a publisher. I get a visit from a very distraught client.)

    Client: “Excuse me. I’m really sorry, but I was told you were the head publisher?”

    Me: “Yes, I am. How can I help?”

    Client: “Well, I’ve been writing stories my whole life. I even written a couple for my children that they love. I’m really good at it and it’s a great passion of mine. It’s my life long dream to make a living as a writer, but nobody will even look at my novel because I’m dyslexic. I know the spelling and grammar isn’t great but I’ve had people spell-check it for me. I just need someone to give me a chance. I know my book will be a hit.”

    Me: “I’m so sorry to hear how you’ve been treated. Send me the first few pages of your book, the best scene in the book, preferably around the middle, and the last few pages, and I’ll give them a read.”

    (The client thanks me, places the ENTIRE book on my desk, and then leaves. I start to read it later that day, only to discover that not only is the spelling and grammar awful, but so is the book itself. I continue reading much more than I usually do, wanting to believe this man was truly the great writer he claimed to be. The story gets worse and worse the more I read. I read a couple of pages in the middle. Then I skip to the end, only to discover he ended the book with the most despised sentence in the literary world, ‘and it was all a dream.’ Needless to say I wrote him a rejection letter. A few days later I get a message from the receptionist, who is in tears, claiming an enraged man is here, screaming about suing us. I told her to let him in. It was our dyslexic client.)

    Client: “What is this?! You told me you were going to publish my book!”

    Me: “No, sir. I said I was going to read your book, which I did. I’m sorry but I do not believe it is suitable to be published.”

    Client: “That’s bull-s***. My book is brilliant. You have to publish it. There’s no good reason not to.”

    Me: “Sir, I’m sorry, but the book’s no good. I can’t publish this.”

    Client: “Oh yeah? Name me five reasons why you can’t publish it.”

    Me: “Five?”

    Client: “Yeah, five. Otherwise there’s no reason your editing team can’t sort it out.”

    Me: “Okay. First of all, there is next to no characterisation.”

    Client: “What the f*** does that mean?”

    Me: “It means that your characters don’t develop in any way.”

    Client: “That’s complete bull-s***. What else?”

    Me: “Your main character is suppose to be the protagonist and yet has no fatal flaw. He’s perfect.”

    Client: “Main characters are supposed to be perfect. That’s why people love them. Hamlet didn’t have a ‘fatal flaw’.”

    Me: “Actually, he did. He procrastinated and it resulted in many dying.”

    Client: “You don’t know what you’re talking about. And that’s only two.”

    Me: “I’m not finished. Three, I know you are dyslexic but almost every sentence needs to be edited. That is too much work for our editor and financially would not be beneficial for the company. Four, you not only use abbreviations in the narration like BTW for ‘by the way’, but you also use words that don’t exist.”

    Client: “Like what?”

    Me: “Like the word ET. It does not exist.”

    Client: “Yeah, it does. I ‘et’ an apple.”

    Me: “Ate, sir. You ATE an apple. ‘Et’ is not a word.”

    Client: “Fine, but that’s only four.”

    Me: “And five, it’s not long enough.”

    Client: “How can it not be long enough. It’s well over 100 pages.”

    Me: “Sir, the quantity of a book is based on word count, not pages. Your book may be over 100 pages, but with the size of the paper, the size of the font, and also that you start a brand new page every time you start a new chapter, it’s too short.”

    Client: “Well, how long does it have to be?”

    Me: “The average novel is between 80,000 to 120,000 words. Your novel is just over 16,000. I have nothing against people with dyslexia and there are many great writers who have it. You, however, will not be one of those writers. I can continue to list more things wrong with your novel but I have listed the five you requested. Now I must ask you to leave my office as I am incredibly busy.”

    (The client grabs his novel from my hands and storms out. A couple of weeks later we receive a letter from a lawyer suing us for discrimination, claiming that we were not publishing the man’s novel because he was dyslexic. I had our lawyers phone his, explaining the true reasons, and also that our conversation was recorded. We never heard from him after that.)

    To Term A Contradiction

    | Nashville, TN, USA | At The Checkout, Books & Reading, Movies & TV

    (My coworker and I are discussing our avid distaste for the ‘Twilight’ books.)

    Me: “I mean… even if you look past the story line, the syntax is poor, and the vocabulary redundant. I don’t understand how it even qualifies as literature.”

    Coworker: “I know. What’s to gain from even reading it?”

    (A customer approaches, and I take her order. As I’m loading a box of plain glazed donuts for her, I suddenly notice a teenage girl standing at the other end of the counter. She looks quite shy as she waits for assistance. She’s wearing a shirt that I can’t help but admire aloud.)

    Me: “‘…and then Buffy staked Edward. The end.’ I love your shirt!”

    Teenage Girl: *shyly* “…thank you!”

    Me: “My coworker and I were just making fun of that series… what a coincidence!”

    Teenage Girl: *nodding enthusiastically* “I know! I like, totally love Buffy! But I like, totally love Twilight, too!”

    (I feel my smile freeze in place, and politely refrain from commenting further. The girl continues to chatter on about the vastly different vampire series.)

    Teenage Girl: “And I like, totally have this Cullen jacket and some jewelry… and I wore them with this shirt last week and I was, like… all… opposite-y…”

    Me: *smile still frozen in place* “I see…”

    (I finish the other customer’s donut order and ring her up. The teenager doesn’t take the hint and continues to wax poetic about her conflicting interests, trying to hold my attention. My coworker, who has been present for the whole exchange, assists the teenage girl with her order for cookies. After both customers leave, I turn to my coworker.)

    Coworker: “‘Opposite-y?’”

    Me: “I think the word she was looking for was ‘contradiction.’”

    Coworker: “Let’s blame Meyers for that.”

    Me: “Case in point. Not much of a lexicon.”

    Doesn’t Understand The ‘Custom’ Part Of Customer

    | MO, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests, Home Improvement

    (A popular bookstore chain is going out of business, and all of their stores are having ‘going-out-of-business’ sales. One such store is located in the same plaza as the home improvement store where I work.)

    Me: “Thank you for calling [Home Improvement Store]. How can I help you?”

    Customer: “Yeah, you guys are located in the same plaza as [Bookstore] right?”

    Me: Yes, ma’am, we are located a few stores down from [Bookstore]. How can I assist you today?”

    Customer: “Are they open?”

    Me: “That particular branch of [Bookstore] hasn’t closed their doors yet, but given the fact that they’re going out of business, I’m not sure how much longer they’ll stay open.”

    Customer: “Well, I just tried calling them and no one is answering the phone.”

    Me: “I do know that they are still open. However it’s possible that whatever few employees are actually still working there are currently assisting other customers at the moment, so I would try giving them a call again a little bit later. In the meantime, is there anything we here at [Home Improvement Store] can help you with today?”

    Customer: “Yeah, could you go down to [Bookstore] and see if they have any copies of [various book titles] left?”

    Me: “I’m sorry, but no one here is going to be able to leave the store in order to check that for you.”

    Customer: “Well, why the h*** not?”

    Me: “Because we’re all employees of [Home Improvement Store], not [Bookstore]. We’re all needed here.”

    Customer: “You retail people are supposed to go above and beyond for your customers!”

    Me: “We do a lot for our customers, ma’am. You, however, have expressed no interest in being our customer, but rather that of [Bookstore].”

    Customer: “Well, you’re no f****** help!”

    (I ended up transferring her call to my manager, who laughed at her request to send one of his employees to check the inventory of a different store.)

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