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.

A Turn-Up For The Books

| ON, Canada | Bizarre, Books & Reading

(We are located in a mall, and for about five years, had a used book sale in the hallway right outside our store, with the money going to different charities every few months. With mall construction going on, we had to take it away.)

Customer: “Um, yeah, you used to have a book sale in the hall, but I don’t see any books anywhere.”

Me: “Yeah, we had to get rid of it, unfortunately.”

Customer: “So can I just give my books to you, then?”

Me: “No, we’re no longer doing the book sale.”

Customer: “So where do I take my books, then?”

Me: “Um, you can take them to the library, or I believe there is a used book store downtown you could take them to.”

Customer: “Ugh. I wanted to give them to you guys, though!”

Me: “Yes, but we no longer have a book sale.”

Customer: “Well, could I just put them on the floor in the hall?”

Me: “…No.”

Customer: “Why not?”

Me: “Because then there would just be books on the floor in the hallway.”

Wasn’t So Secret After All

| Chicago, IL, USA | Books & Reading

Customer: “There was a book on this table two months ago. It was black and said ‘FBI’ in red on the cover.”

Me: “Yes, I know that one.”

(I grab a copy of “Secrets of the FBI” and hand it to her.)

Customer: “No, not this one.”

Me: “Really? Because that’s the only book in the store that’s black and says ‘FBI’ in red on the cover. Also, it was featured on this table two months ago.

Customer: No, it was a different one.

(I pull up the list of books from that table two months ago.)

Me: That was the only book about the FBI on that table two months ago.

Customer: NO, it was a DIFFERENT ONE. You’re not LISTENING.

(Customer storms off, complains to a different employee about me not finding the correct book.)

Coworker: “I think I remember that book, wasn’t it ‘Secrets of the FBI’?”

Customer: “NO! NO! NO! GOD!”

(Five minutes later, while she’s leaving the store.)

Customer: “THIS IS WHY PEOPLE SHOP ON AMAZON!”

(About an hour later, we get a phone call from someone who sounds suspiciously like this woman.)

Customer: “Yes, can I reserve a copy of the book ‘Secrets of the FBI’?”

Life Is Stranger Than The Search For Fiction

| New Orleans, LA, USA | Books & Reading

(I work in a library system where the adult fiction is shelved by genre: general fiction, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, and western.)

Patron: “There was a book I checked out once but I can’t find it now. The author’s last name was Hamilton.”

Me: “Do you remember the title of the book?”

Patron: “No.”

Me: “The author’s first name?”

Patron: “No.”

Me: “What was the book about?”

Patron: “I don’t remember, but I really liked it and the name was Hamilton.”

Me: *searching by last name* “There are several different authors with that last name. Do you remember which genre the book was? Was it a mystery?”

Patron: “No, it wasn’t a mystery. It was just a story with things happening.”

Me: “That sounds like it would be general fiction.”

Patron: “No, it wasn’t general fiction. It was definitely a mystery.”

Me: “Okay, let’s go look in the mystery section.”

Patron: “Well, it wasn’t so much a mystery, but it had a cowboy in it.”

Me: “That sounds like it would be in the western section.”

(We go look. There are no books there by a Hamilton.)

Patron: “Actually, maybe Hamilton was the title of the book.”

Me: “…”

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.)

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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