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    Marriage Has Grey Areas

    | London, England, UK | Rude & Risque, Spouses & Partners

    (I’m at a bookstore, witnessing an exchange taking place between an employee and a middle-aged male customer.)

    Customer: “Excuse me, do you know where your copies of 50 Shades of Grey are?”

    Employee: “Sure, they’re over there.”

    (The customer walks over to the indicated shelf and picks up a copy.)

    Customer: “Right, anniversary present… sorted!”

    Top Shelf Morals, Bottom Shelf Attitude

    | Medford, MA, USA | Awesome Customers, Rude & Risque, Underaged

    (I am stocking magazines at a bookstore when two young boys reach high up on the shelves and grab adult magazines. They hunch over and open the magazines to gawk at the photos.)

    Me: “Excuse me, are you guys 18 or over?”

    Boy #1: “Why, what’s it to you?”

    Me: “It’s my job, actually. If you’re not 18, you can’t even touch those. Would you put that magazine back, please?”

    Boy #2: “I’m 18.”

    (Boy #2 is obviously about 12 or 13 from his height and appearance.)

    Me: “Really? What year were you born?”

    Boy #2: “None of your business!”

    Me: “Okay, both of you put those magazines back, right now.”

    Boy #1: “I’m 18, too.”

    (Just then, a young mother carrying a baby and a diaper bag approaches the counter a few feet away.)

    Young Mother: *to cashier* “Can I ask you for a certain book?”

    Cashier: “Sure, what are you looking for?”

    Young Mother: “It’s called ‘How to Raise a Moral Child‘.”

    (Boy #1 and Boy #2 burst out laughing, catching the attention of the young mother, who looks over disapprovingly. The boys laugh and turn away from her, now facing me.)

    Me: *arms crossed, leaning in* “How about now?”

    (They stop laughing abruptly, put the magazines back on the nearest shelf, and slink out.)

    Admitting Defeat Was An Easy Thing Touché

    | Boston, MA, USA | Awesome Workers, Criminal/Illegal, Top, Wild & Unruly

    (The owner of the bookstore where I work is very old and walks with a cane. Despite this, he always wanders the shelves and helps out patrons. Behind the counter, in a glass case, he keeps an assortment of trophies and medals he won in his youth. One night, someone decides to try to steal them.)

    Owner: “I’m sorry, but you can’t be behind the counter.”

    Robber: *smashing the glass* “F*** you, old man! Just stay away and don’t do anything stupid!”

    (The robber sweeps the medals into his backpack and then tries to open the till.)

    Owner: “Stop that, young man! You’re making a terrible mistake!”

    Robber: *waves a large knife* “Yeah, well so are you! Back off! How do you open this f***ing thing?”"

    Owner: “Take a look at all those medals.”

    Robber: “What? Just open the f***ing cash register!”

    Owner: *very calmly* “Just take a look.”

    Robber: *confused* “Uh, okay. Yeah, they’re gold. That’s why I took them, you a**hole. Gold fencing, gold fencing, silver fencing…”

    (The owner gracefully draws the sword from his sword-cane.)

    Robber: “Oh, please! Try that stuff in a real fight and you’ll just get kill—”

    (With a flick of his weapon, the owner removes the robber’s glasses.)

    Robber: *drops the knife* “Don’t hurt me!” *drops to his knees*

    (I had called the police as soon as the knife came out. They arrive and identify the robber as a serial burglar who had stabbed a previous victim. Years later, at the owner’s retirement party, he recounts the story.)

    Owner: “You know, hearing that story makes me think of two things. One, I wish a fencing judge had been there so I could have gotten the gold for that bout, and two, I missed the only time in my life when I could have asked someone if they called that a knife.”

    Needs A Stern Conversation With Her Son

    | Medford, MA, USA | Family & Kids, Rude & Risque

    (It is 1993. I am working the register when an elderly woman comes up to the counter.)

    Customer: “Do you have that book, Body Parts?”

    Me: “Hmm, I don’t know that one by name, but let’s see if we can find it. Who’s the author?”

    Customer: “I don’t know. It’s that new story, Body PartsBody Parts.”

    Me: “Hmm, okay, just give me one second to look it up so we can find it on the shelves. All our fiction is alphabetical by author.”

    (I look it up in our primitive computer, and find an old book.)

    Me: “Well, I don’t have that book here, but I can order it for you. It would take one to two weeks.”

    Customer: “Why don’t you have it? My son says it’s a bestseller! You should have a lot of them! He saw it here and I want to get it for him for his birthday!”

    Me: “Actually, it’s a few years old and we haven’t had it in the store for some time now. When’s his birthday? Maybe I can get it in time.”

    Customer: “No, he saw it here yesterday! Body Parts! It’s a bestseller.”

    Me: *flash of recognition* “Wait, a bestseller, right? Are you looking for Private Parts by Howard Stern?”

    Customer: “That’s what I said! Private Parts! Private Parts!”

    (The woman is now yelling the correct name of the book. Other customers turn to look and giggle.)

    Me: “Of course, Private Parts. Sorry, I must have heard you wrong. Right this way.”

    (I bring her to the best sellers rack and hand her a copy of the book. The cover has a photo of the disk jockey Howard Stern, naked, but holding a cloth over his private parts.)

    Me: “Is this the book?”

    Customer: *squints through her glasses at the book* “Oh! This is disgusting! Ugh! My no-good son’s gonna get it!”

    (She drops the book on the floor and walks out in a huff.)

    One Customer’s Bash Is Another Customer’s Pleasure

    | Medford, MA, USA | Crazy Requests

    Customer: “Do you have the new Oprah book?”

    Me: “Probably… what’s it called?”

    Customer: “The new Oprah book.”

    Me: “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch Oprah. Do you know the title or author?”

    Customer: “It’s the one on TV! You should know it!”

    Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am. I work full-time and don’t get to see the show. Do you happen to know the name of the book?”

    Customer: “It’s the one on TV! Oprah!”

    Me: “Sorry, do you remember the author’s name? Did she do an interview?”

    Customer: “Yes, that guy… oh, I remember!”

    Me: “Great, what is the—”

    Customer: “Blue!”

    Me: “What?”

    Customer: “The book is blue.”

    Me: “Hmm… is it that blue one in best-sellers behind you there?”

    Customer: “No, the one on TV! Why don’t you have it! Why don’t you know what I’m looking for?”

    Me: “I work when that show is on, so I don’t really know what you’re looking for.”

    Customer: “Ugh! Let me ask my friend.”

    (She walks away and comes back ten minutes later with her friend. They each have a copy of ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’ by Deepak Chopra. The cover indeed does have a blue background.)

    Me: “Ah ha! You found it! Great!”

    Customer: *holding up the book* “It was on TV! You’re the worst employee ever! Why don’t you know what I saw on TV?”

    Me: “I don’t know. Sorry. Let’s ring you up.”

    (About 30 minutes later, another customer comes up to my register.)

    Customer #2: “Do you have that book, um, ‘Strong Body, Strong Life’?”

    Me: “Oh, Deepak Chopra? The blue one?” *I show her the now familiar ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’* “Is this what you are looking for? Did you see it on Oprah?”

    Customer #2: “Wow, you’re the best employee in the world! How did you know what I was looking for?”

    Me: “I don’t know. Let’s ring you up.”


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