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.

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It’s Humorous How Common This Request Is

| WA, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

Customer: “Excuse me; I need to look up a book?”

Me: “Sure, what is the title?”

Customer: “Oh, I don’t know. I saw two girls looking at a book on the bus and they were smiling and laughing at what they were reading so I thought I might enjoy it.”

Me: “Erm, okay. Can you tell me anything else about it?”

Customer: “Uh… I didn’t get a very good look at it. Can’t you just do a search for books that are funny?”

Me: “Well… that’d apply to almost any book in our humor section… and given who’s reading it, possibly quite a few books beyond that.” *I make a gesture of sweeping my hands out to indicate most of the store could fit that description*

Customer: “What? Well… I didn’t think it’d be that hard for you to look up a single book!”

Me: “I promise you I will do everything I can to help you find what you’re looking for, but I need some more information to go on.”

Customer: “Well… the cover might have been white? Or grey? It was hard to tell from where I was sitting.”

(A pause goes by.)

Me: “Okay… anything else?”

Customer: “There… were black words on the cover? Again I didn’t get a good look at it! Isn’t this supposed to be your job?”

(I look at my computer screen, and then notice something right underneath the counter. There’s a stack of new books we just had delivered, one of which happens to fit this very vague description.)

Me: “What about this one?”

Customer: “Well, how do I know this is the right book? There’s little men on the cover!”

Me: “You said the cover was white, with black letters, yes? Do you remember anything else about the book?”

Customer: “I just said I didn’t get a good look at it!”

Me: “Then how do you know that ISN’T the right book?”

Customer: “Uh… well… erm… I don’t, but…  Wait, how do I know it’ll make me laugh like those two girls on the bus?”

Me: “It’s a satire novel, ma’am. Those do tend to make folks laugh. Again, unless you can give me any other information, what proof do you have that is NOT the right book?”

Customer: “Uh… um… I guess I don’t? Well, I’ll give it a try, but I’m still not sure. You’re the one who’s meant to know these things!”

(She purchased the book and never came back.)

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Making A Dramatic Leap

| OR, USA | At The Checkout, Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(Right before closing, a patron comes up to the self-check machines with a very large pile of children’s books. After we’ve closed, he’s still using the machine and is having some difficulties with it.)

Coworker: “I can help you over here, sir.”

Patron: “No, I’ll do this myself.”

Coworker: “Well, those are programmed to turn off automatically after closing and they are about to turn off, so I can continue to check out to you over here.”

(The patron continues to use the self-check anyway, at which point he gets a message saying the computer is shutting down.)

Patron: “Why is this shutting down?! I’m using it!”

Coworker: “Those machines automatically turn themselves off after closing. I can check out to you over here.”

Patron: “So you’re saying you don’t want my children to read?!”

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Lost In Multiple Translations

| Mariehamn, Finland | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(I’m standing in line at the service desk at the library. It is located in a Swedish-speaking region of Finland. A patron is in front of me.)

Patron: “Hi! I’m looking for a book. A very specific book.”

Librarian: *very friendly and accommodating* “Of course. Do you have the title or the name of the author so I can look it up for you?”

Patron: “Well, here’s where you can help me, because I can’t remember the title of the book. Or who wrote it. But I think it was about an Italian girl… or a woman. Maybe she was French, by the way. Or Finnish. Somewhere from that area anyway.”

Librarian: *still friendly* “All right…”

Patron: “There also may have been a crocodile involved in the book somehow. But I can’t remember which page that was on. Or if it even was in this book.”

Librarian: *just a tad less accommodating now* “Well, er, you see—”

Patron: *interrupting* “And I simply can’t remember what language it was written in, but it’s very important that you find me the book with a Swedish translation. The original edition was written in English. It might have been Japanese, though. And there was a crocodile in it. I think. In Finland. Or in Italy. It’s about divorces.”

Librarian: *not looking very happy at all* “Let’s just go have a look at our fiction section, then…”

Patron: “No! It was a biography! Or a short story. I think.” *they walk away*

Me: *to the other librarian* “And I thought I had had a bad day working in retail.”

Other Librarian: “This is the second time this week!”

(I later found out that the woman was looking for ‘The No. One Ladies Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith! Way to describe it.)

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John Carpenter’s: Hamlet

, | Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, UK | Books & Reading, Funny Names

(I work in the gift shop at one of Shakespeare’s houses, and we get a lot of silly questions.)

Customer: “Does The Merchant of Venice have another name?”

Me: “It was occasionally called The Jew of Venice a long time ago but nobody calls it that now for obvious reasons.”

Customer: “Well, in the museum there was a list of all the plays and I couldn’t find it on there. Does it have another name? Like a subtitle?”

Me: “Um… no, I’m afraid not. It must have been on there somewhere.”

Customer: “Oh. Well, I thought it might have another name – you know, like how Hamlet gets called Hamlet, Prince of Darkness?”

Me: “You mean, Prince of Denmark?”

Customer: *blank look*

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The Oprah Code

| Pittsburgh, PA, USA | Bizarre, Books & Reading

(I’m working as a cashier. It’s late in the evening and things are slowing down for the night, so the other cashiers and I stand at the end of our lanes and chat with browsing customers until they’re ready to check out. There’s a rack of DVDs at the end of my lane, and an older customer stops to ask my opinion on some of them. I vaguely recognize she’s a regular, but I don’t remember many details, and she seems friendly enough.)

Customer: “What’s this ‘Game of Thrones’ like? I’ve heard of that one.”

Me: “Well, some people are really into it, but it’s really violent. I’m not a fan. I don’t know if you’d enjoy it.”

Customer: “Ooh, no, you’re right.”

(She picks up a copy of Lee Daniels’ “The Butler”, and sighs.)

Customer: “I just can’t trust Oprah anymore.”

Me: “Oh?”

Customer: “Since I found out she joined the Illuminati.”

Me: “OH!”

(I remembered why I recognized this regular.)

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