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.


Your Numbers Are Up

| Omaha, NE, USA | Books & Reading, Religion

(I work in a medical clinic and part of the job is getting patients’ vitals at check-in. My standard joke with people if their blood pressure is up a bit is that they’re SO excited to be at the doctor.)

Patient: “I get all the excitement I need from my Bible. It’s ALL exciting!”

Me: “Well, what about Numbers? Isn’t that all who begat who, on and on?”

Patient: “Well, maybe not Numbers.”


Books With The Same Story Every Night

| UK | Bad Behavior, Books & Reading, Time

(It’s late on a Friday evening, near closing time, and the library’s empty. My coworker and I are discussing customers who dawdle at closing time in the various other branches of the library, taking FOREVER to select books and get them checked out.)

Coworker: “Sometimes I feel like they do it just to prove a point.”

Me: “I know! Thank goodness this branch is so quiet. Geez, imagine if someone walked through the door right as we were closing up?”

(Minutes pass, and seven o’clock gets ever closer; we tidy up and, in the final few minutes, shut off the computers. Then, right on the dot on seven, the phone rings.)

Coworker: “Oh, NO.”

Me: “You have got to be kidding.”

(I answer, hoping it’s from one of the other branches open this late.)

Me: “Hello, [Library].”

Caller: “Hello; I was wondering if you could find a book for me?”

Me: “I’m very sorry, madam, but we’ve just closed. The library opens again at nine tomorrow morning.”

Caller: “Oh, please, could you just check?”

Me: “Well, our computers have shut down for the night, so the only way I’d be able to find it would be by a physical shelf check. But I can make a note of it, so that we can look for it tomorrow and call you back as early as possible. What’s the name of the book?”

Caller: “I think it’s called Who Moved My Cheese? It’s a fiction book.”

Me: “And do you know the name of the author?”

Caller: “No, I’m afraid I don’t. Can’t you look it up?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I can’t. Like I said, the computers have shut down for the night, and won’t start up again until tomorrow morning. The program we use for managing our books is on those computers, so I can’t look for the book on the system to see if we actually have it, whether it’s on loan or where it might be, or whether any of the other libraries have it.”

Caller: “But couldn’t you look on the shelves?”

Me: “I’m afraid not. We’re officially closed; we’re literally just about to lock up and leave. A physical shelf check would take a fair while, especially since we don’t know the author’s name or what genre the book is. Again, I’ll make a note of your name and request so that we can look for it when we open tomorrow at nine.”

Caller: “Please, can’t you have just a quick check now?”

Me: “I’m sorry, madam, but we can’t. It’s now past seven. We need to go home. If you’ll give me your name, I promise we’ll look for the book as soon as we open tomorrow.”

(She finally gives me her name, very disappointed. I hang up and stare at my coworker.)

Me: “She must know what time we close. She MUST. Who DOES that? A minute or two before closing time, I get that, but right on the hour?”

Coworker: “Let’s get out of here before someone thinks we’re still open.”


The Quotable Works Of Jack And Hitler

| IA, USA | Books & Reading

(The coffee shop I work at offers 10 cents off if you guess what book the daily quote comes from. Today’s quote is lighthearted and optimistic. A young teenage girl comes in with her father.)

Girl: *excitedly pointing* “Hey, I know that!”

Me: “Do you? What is it?”

Girl:How I Did It by Jack the Ripper!”

Me: *taken aback* “Umm… no, that’s not it. Sorry, honey.”

Girl: *disappointed* “Oh… Mein Kampf?”

(She didn’t manage any more guesses before she burst out laughing. Her father hadn’t been in on the joke and was very relieved!)


This Puzzle Is A Matter Of Life Or Death

| Austria | Books & Reading, Language & Words, Popular

(We have a fairly large Japanese community near the bookstore I’m working at, so we stock a sizeable collection of Japanese books. They usually speak German very well; still, a coworker has taken it upon himself to learn Japanese — with little success, it seems, because the Japanese who frequent our store try to keep their distance from him. I am approached by a regular, an elderly Japanese gentleman, a very quiet, unassuming man who, as usual, pointedly avoids my coworker. He approaches me and is, even for his standards, unusually quiet for a long while, waits until nobody is nearby and asks in a small voice:)

Customer: “Excuse me; do you carry books on Seppuku? How to do it right?”

(For those that don’t know the term, Seppuku is ritual suicide. It is quite hard for me to not show my shock about this request, not only that he would consider something like this but also because he would simply and bluntly ask for books on it. On one hand I didn’t want him to do something like this, on the other hand I knew that if I said no he would just find another source. So I tried to find out why while slowly walking him over to the Japanese section of our book store that deals with self help, depression, and the like.)

Me: “If I may ask, I wish to find the perfect book for you; maybe you could tell me what part you need to find perfection for?”

Customer: *again, looking around, then quietly, almost ashamed* “I tried many times, but I just cannot finish. In the end, it never works out.”

Me: “I… maybe if you could tell me the motivation behind it?”

Customer: “Oh, it is the right thing to do at my age! Doctors in Japan agree! It is a Japanese invention, and it keeps you mentally fit! You should try too, you are not too young to do Seppu…” *he stops and I can literally see his face turn to one of realization and horror for the briefest of moments before he regains his perfect composure and seamlessly continues*  “…Sudokus yourself.”

(I pause for a moment and then nod in agreement while ever so slightly redirecting our steps towards books for his (far more agreeable!) actual subject.)

Me: “Sudokus are very popular here too. I agree; I should take your advice and try them myself.”

(I thought I managed to put up the perfect display of ignorance until, at the end of the transaction, he indicates my Japanese speaking coworker, saying with a very small but meaningful smile:)

Customer: “This is the difference, you see: He tries to speak Japanese. But you, you try to understand the Japanese!”


Life Is Stranger Than Fiction, Part 3

| Bulgaria | Bad Behavior, Books & Reading, Popular

(I’m browsing the fantasy section at a local book store. The employee uniform is an orange t-shirt and I’m wearing a sweater in a much darker shade of orange. A young woman pushes my shoulder and in a very loud an rude manner asks:)

Woman: “Tell me about [Author]”

(I generally like giving book advice but she looks at me like I’m a lower form of life.)

Me: “First of all, madam, I don’t work here, and second, even if I did I wouldn’t help you if you act that way.”

(She storms off, bright red. A few minutes later:)

Young Man: “Excuse me, miss, could you tell me more about [Same Author] and perhaps recommend a book to a new reader?”

(Since he’s very polite I start telling him more about the author and the book series. Meanwhile, the rude woman is back with a store clerk and both stare at me mouths wide open. The man turns out to be the lady’s boyfriend.)

Me: ”Oh, and by the way; I don’t work here.”

Store Clerk: “Do you want to?”

Life Is Stranger Than Fiction, Part 2
Life Is Stranger Than Fiction

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