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.

It’s Going To Be An Interesting Knight

| Austin, TX, USA | Books & Reading, Movies & TV, School

(Back in 1997, I am working at a large, national video rental chain. A high school aged boy, roughly 16 years old, walks up to the counter.)

Boy: “Can you help me find a movie?”

Me: “Probably, do you know the title?”

Boy: “First Knight.”

(The requested film is about the love triangle between King Arthur, Lady Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot. Action aside, it wasn’t normally requested by men, especially high-school aged. Thinking this strange, I still take him to the appropriate section, find the tape in stock, and hand it to him.)

Boy: “Thanks, man! You’ve saved my life.”

(Back at the counter he ends up coming through my line.)

Boy: “Thanks again, man. You’ve really saved me some time.”

Me: *as I hand him his change* “What do you mean?”

Boy: “Oh, we have to read this for school, and I forgot all about it.”

Me: “You have to read THIS for school?!”

Boy: *smiling as he goes out the door* “Yep, and I can’t stand Shakespeare.”

(As he walks out the door my coworker and I break down laughing, realizing that he was actually looking for “Twelfth Night.”)

Coworker: “Boy, is his teacher in for a treat!”

Cracked The Da Vinci Code

| MD, USA | Books & Reading, School

(This happens around the time many teenagers are getting books for their summer reading. Today, a young man and his mother came in looking for Dan Brown’s Inferno. My coworker is the one who helps them. I overhear this.)

Mother: “Oh, yes, my son really needs this book. Not only does he have to read the whole thing, but he also has to write a paper on it, and draw a scene from it. They’re dedicating a lot of time on this.”

(I find this odd considering Dan Brown books are not the usual summer reading requirements, but don’t think nothing further of it until the two leave with the book.)

Me: *to coworker* “Wait, he has to write a paper on the Inferno?”

Coworker: “Yeah.”

Me: “Um… is he sure it’s supposed to be Dan Brown’s Inferno, and not DANTE’S Inferno?”

Coworker: “OH, MY GOD! That makes a lot more sense! I don’t know…”

(Nobody before or since has ever requested Dan Brown’s Inferno for summer reading.)

Taking A Hardline On The Hardback

| VA, USA | Books & Reading, Family & Kids

(A lady approaches the counter with several items.)

Me: “How are you today?”

Customer: “Doing fine, thanks”

Me: “So you found everything okay?”

(Ignoring my question she looks at who appears to be her mother and says.)

Customer: *to mom* “I am not buying that blanket. If you want it you can buy it.”

Customer’s Mom: “Okay. That’s fine, I guess.”

(As I finish ringing up everything else I get to the books and notice they are hardbacks which are $3 so I ring them up accordingly.)

Customer: *noticing price of books* “Wait, the sign says children’s books are 50c.”

Me: “Oh, I am sorry; let me fix that for you.”

(I pull the books back out and double check what kind of books they are.)

Me: “Ma’am, unfortunately these are not children’s books. They are hardbacks and are $3.”

Customer: *visibly getting angry* “They were in the children’s section, so they are 50c.”

(At this point a line is forming.)

Me: “I can double check with the manager if you would like, but these books are moved around frequently in that section.”

(I walk over to the manager with the books and tell her the situation.)

Me: “The customer is saying these two ‘Adult’ Books are for her child and therefore 50c.”

Manager: *seeing the mostly nude woman on the front in a seductive outfit* “This is a thrift store. Just because she “found” those books in the children’s section doesn’t make them so. If she really fusses about it say you can give them to her for the paperback price but certainly these should not be for a child.”

(I walk back over to the customer.)

Me: “The manager said these are indeed not children’s books.”

(As the customer is about to reach mental break down status.)

Me: “But I can give them to you for paperback price if that would help this one time.”

Customer: “Fine! I can’t believe you act this way.”

(After she leaves the customers behind her ask what happened and complimented me on handling the situation nicely and I tell her what happened.)

New Customer: *jokingly and laughing* “Yeah! And I found this jeans in the t-shirt section. Can I have them for a dollar? …Who gives their child Fifty Shades Of Grey?!”

His Guilt Is Like An Open Book

, | Washington, DC, USA | Bad Behavior, Books & Reading

(I work in a museum bookstore where we sell a lot of expensive, hardcover art books. A customer brings up an unwrapped exhibition catalog and shows me his receipt and the damage to the top edge of the pages.)

Customer: “Can I exchange this for another?”

(I look at the damage. It’s not bad, but when a customer pays eighty dollars for a book they want it to be perfect.)

Me: “Certainly. There are others right here.”

(I pick one up from the stack and glance at the edges before I hand it to him. They’re perfect.)

Customer: “Thanks. I’d just like to check the new one before I leave the store.”

Me: “Let me unwrap that for you—”

(I hold my hand out to take the new book back and do it for him, but it’s too late. The gentleman has very helpfully whipped out his credit card and used the edge to slit the shrink wrap like a paper knife. He did so very vigorously. So vigorously that the credit card tore into and through the page edges, damaging the pages in a different spot from, but identical to, the way the pages on the original book were damaged.)

Me: “That wasn’t like that when I handed it to you. Did you open the first one that way?”

Customer: *sheepish look spreads over his face*

Me: “Would you like to keep the first book you damaged or the second one?”

Customer: “The… second one.”

(I hand it to him, and he slinks off. For all I know he went to another shop to exchange the second book for another new one…but I bet he didn’t tear into it with his credit card like that again.)

The Twilight Of Our Literacy, Part 15

| White House, TN, USA | Books & Reading

(I’m working the register at the local library. We have a program where we help aspiring writers get their names out there by printing previews of the first few chapters of their book for local review before they send it to major publishers. One of said aspiring writers is talking with some people about his book, a long and detailed story with a vampire and werewolf as dual protagonists. Comparisons with Twilight have been drawn by several people, and he calmly explains the (myriad) differences, usually ending with a blunt jab about Twilight being “ploddingly written garbage.”)

Writer: “I’ve spent a lot of time building up this world with a bunch of traditional mythos. There aren’t just vampires and werewolves, but many other mythological creatures from all over the world.”

(Another customer comes up and begins speaking to him with a paperback preview of the first few chapters.)

Customer: “Oh, my god, this book is such a Twilight rip-off, and it’s such a bad rip-off, too! And your character is all wrong. He’s supposed to be broody and dark and hate what he is and that he can’t control it. Yours loves being a vampire and drinks blood like a drunk drinks wine!”

Writer: “You know, there are more types of vampires than just the one from Twilight. And quite honestly, Twilight—”

Customer: “Is the best thing ever! Honestly, the reason I’ve never heard of vampires before Twilight is because the old ones are all STUPID!”

(The woman throws the paperback on the ground and stomps off, the writer’s face is deadpan but I can see his eyes glaring a hole into the woman’s head. He looks to the guy he was speaking to and gives an exasperated sigh.)

Writer: “And that’s why I want people to help me get my book published.”

(The customer agrees with him and buys the preview the woman just threw down, he came back a few weeks later to return it, extremely satisfied and waiting on the final product.)

The Twilight Of Our Literacy, Part 14
The Twilight Of Our Literacy, Part 13
The Twilight Of Our Literacy, Part 12

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