November Theme Of The Month: Black Friday!

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.

The Twilight Of Our Literacy, Part 15

| White House, TN, USA | Books & Reading

(I’m working the register at the local library. We have a program where we help aspiring writers get their names out there by printing previews of the first few chapters of their book for local review before they send it to major publishers. One of said aspiring writers is talking with some people about his book, a long and detailed story with a vampire and werewolf as dual protagonists. Comparisons with Twilight have been drawn by several people, and he calmly explains the (myriad) differences, usually ending with a blunt jab about Twilight being “ploddingly written garbage.”)

Writer: “I’ve spent a lot of time building up this world with a bunch of traditional mythos. There aren’t just vampires and werewolves, but many other mythological creatures from all over the world.”

(Another customer comes up and begins speaking to him with a paperback preview of the first few chapters.)

Customer: “Oh, my god, this book is such a Twilight rip-off, and it’s such a bad rip-off, too! And your character is all wrong. He’s supposed to be broody and dark and hate what he is and that he can’t control it. Yours loves being a vampire and drinks blood like a drunk drinks wine!”

Writer: “You know, there are more types of vampires than just the one from Twilight. And quite honestly, Twilight—”

Customer: “Is the best thing ever! Honestly, the reason I’ve never heard of vampires before Twilight is because the old ones are all STUPID!”

(The woman throws the paperback on the ground and stomps off, the writer’s face is deadpan but I can see his eyes glaring a hole into the woman’s head. He looks to the guy he was speaking to and gives an exasperated sigh.)

Writer: “And that’s why I want people to help me get my book published.”

(The customer agrees with him and buys the preview the woman just threw down, he came back a few weeks later to return it, extremely satisfied and waiting on the final product.)

The Twilight Of Our Literacy, Part 14
The Twilight Of Our Literacy, Part 13
The Twilight Of Our Literacy, Part 12

The Maine Reason For Coming

| San Rafael, CA, USA | Bad Behavior, Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(As a smaller bookstore, we do not have many books on hand and encourage people to call our store number to see if we have the book they desire. When we do have the book, we hold it behind the register for them until they come in; when we don’t happen to have the book, most people are very forgiving and understanding.)

Woman: “Hi, do you have any travel books on Maine?”

Me: “Let’s take a look!”

(I walk her over to our travel section. Unfortunately, there are no books on Maine. I try to make my disappointment obvious the customer.)

Me: “Darn. I’m really sorry, but we don’t seem to have any books on Maine!”

Woman: “Well. That’s really too bad.”

(I walk back toward the register with her.)

Me: “No, really, I am very sorry. I know how frustrating it can be to come in and see that we don’t have a book.”

Woman: “Well, I drove down here, put money in the meter, and walked in here, only to find out that you don’t have what I’m looking for.”

Me: “Ma’am, as I said, I really am truly sorry.”

(The woman proceeds to repeat how inconvenienced she’s been because she paid for a parking meter and storms off. My manager walks up to me.)

Manager: “What was that all about?”

Me: *after explaining* “Let’s just say she wasn’t thrilled about paying for parking.”

Minimum Spend, Maximum Satisfaction

| Boston, MA, USA | At The Checkout, Books & Reading, Criminal/Illegal, Money

(I work at a small bookstore. We have a credit card minimum. I get so sick of people telling me that this is illegal that I look up the legislation a few months ago. A woman brings a greeting card to the front.)

Me: “$2.66, please.”

Woman: *hands me a credit card*

Me: “Do you happen to have cash? We have a $7 minimum.”

Woman: *gleefully angry* “Oh! That’s against the law young man, and I’ll be reporting you!”

Me: “Actually, it’s not.”

Woman: “Yes, it is! What’s the name of this business?!”

Me: “2010 house resolution 4173, also known as the Dodd-Frank act, says we can set up to a $10 minimum as long as it’s consistent between issuers. It’s on page 698. And the name is [Store].”

Woman: “You’re a little smart a**.” *throws greeting card on the ground and walks away*

An Off-The-Wall Purchase

| CA, USA | Books & Reading, Musical Mayhem

(I am a musician and an avid fan of rock and folk music, so I’m a little bit of a walking encyclopedia. One customer comes up with a Led Zeppelin book for thirty-five dollars, and we make small talk as I ring him up.)

Me: “So what’s your favorite Zeppelin album?”

Customer: “Oh, it’s my friend who’s the fan, not me. I just wanted to get him a gift.”

Me: “That’s awfully nice of you.”

Customer: “Yeah, he went to The Wall concert and loved it. I heard it was fantastic.”

(A light bulb goes off in my head.)

Me: “Wait…The Wall?”

Customer: “Erm… yes.”

Me: “That’s not Led Zeppelin, sir. That album’s actually Pink Floyd.”

Customer: “Oh… OH. Oh, dear! I got the wrong book!”

Me: *laughing* “No worries, sir! You just happen to be talking to a big fan of Floyd. Here, let me show you a better book.”

(I not only find the customer a book about ‘Pink Floyd’ for the same price as the ‘Led Zeppelin’ book, but I also convince him to get the newest ‘Rolling Stones’ collectible magazine specifically about the band. After I process the return and ring him up…)

Customer: “Good thing you happened to be working, my dear! Imagine me walking out with a book for my friend about the wrong band!”

Me: “It’s my pleasure as both a bookseller and a Floydian. Shine on, and have a good day!”

Irritable Book Syndrome

| Greenville, NC, USA | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior, Books & Reading, Health & Body

(A customer walks in already carrying one of our bags so I know it’s a return. Even worse it’s our Christmas bag and it’s currently June. She gets to the register, slams her bag on the counter and immediately jumps into a story. I pull the receipt out just to check the date and it says December 14th.)

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry but the receipt says December 14th and I’m looking and these two books rang up to $100. If it wasn’t so much there—”

Customer: *cuts me off* “No. No. NO! I already told you these aren’t for me. These were for my friend’s birthday and he’s already got them and I have no use for them.”

Me: “I understand that but we have a two-weeks with a receipt policy and—”

Customer: “Focus! These aren’t for me, okay?! I have no need for them and you will give me my money back!”

(I attempt to speak again but she cuts me off again)

Customer: “I’m done with you. I want a manager. Don’t say anything else, just get your manager. Shush.”

(I call my manager, who threatened to fire me two weeks prior for returning a $20 book that was four days past the two-week policy.)

Manager: “Hi, what seems to be the issue?”

(The customer then explains how I’m an idiot, these books aren’t for her, and she doesn’t care about our policy and wants her money back.)

Manager: “Oh, oh, well, absolutely. [My Name]? Ha! I’m sorry he just doesn’t understand. It’s ok, buddy, we’ll have a training sesh on this later.”

(The manager walks away as the lady smugly stands there waiting for her money. A line has now formed behind her. The next person in line is a younger guy. I then pull out the books to ring them up. The first is called ‘Headaches in the Pelvic Region’ and the second is ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Your Life.’ I then notice she used her discount card so I subtract the savings.)

Customer: “Whoa, whoa, whoa. What was that?”

Me: “Well, ma’am, you used your discount card and got 10% off. I just subtracted that.”

Customer: “Well, how much were those books?!”

(I speak loud enough for the line that had built up behind her to hear.)


(The customer tries to shush me then angrily snatches her money. The younger customer walks up, lays his purchases on the counter, and then mumbles:)

Next Customer: “B**** would have IBS.”