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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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!”

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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?”

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

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Making A Very Tricky Point(s)

| USA | Books & Reading, Math & Science, Money, Popular

Customer: “I need to renew my platinum rewards membership.”

Me: “Great! That’ll be an extra $25, and it will take 10% off of your purchase today and give you 10% back on every purchase in the future.”

Customer: “Okay. Wait, then let me pay for the rewards membership first, and THEN ring everything else up in a separate transaction. I know how tricky you guys are. I know what I’m doing.”

(I figure that he wants to build up his points rather than get the 10% off right away, and he’s so adamant about doing it this way that I just shrug and do as he says. Ten minutes after this transaction, he comes shoving his way to the front of the line, looking very upset.)

Customer: “You didn’t give me the 10% off!”

Me: “As I explained, the 10% off is automatically applied when you renew a platinum rewards membership in the same transaction. You insisted on doing them separately. Now, you’re still going to get the 10% in rewards points to spend later, so in the end you’re saving just as much.”

Customer: *sputters* “But… but… you tricked me!”

Me: “You kind of tricked yourself…”

Narwailing On About It

| Portland, OR, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests, Pets & Animals

(I work at a bookstore that mostly sells children’s books. A mother comes in with her daughter who is about six years old.)

Mother: “I’d like to make a complaint. Who is the manager?”

Me: “I am the manager. What is the problem?”

Mother: “I found this book in the nonfiction section.”

(She holds up a book about arctic animals. The cover shows a polar bear and a narwhal.)

Me: “Ma’am, that is a nonfiction book. It contains facts about those animals.”

Mother: “No, it does not. There’s no such thing as a narwhal! They are imaginary creatures.”

Me: “…”

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Found The Book But Lost The Irony

| AR, USA | Books & Reading

(I work at my local library as a library assistant.)

Patron: “I accidentally turned in a book that belongs to [Other Library].”

Me: “Sure, what’s the book title?”

Patron:I Am Responsible.”

Me: *staring a patron in complete silence*

(I find the book, and the great irony is that it’s a child’s book.)

Me: “…Have a good day, ma’am.”

Patron: “Thanks. You, too.”

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