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.

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.)

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

The Maine Reason For Coming

| San Rafael, CA, USA | Bad Behavior, Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(As a smaller bookstore, we do not have many books on hand and encourage people to call our store number to see if we have the book they desire. When we do have the book, we hold it behind the register for them until they come in; when we don’t happen to have the book, most people are very forgiving and understanding.)

Woman: “Hi, do you have any travel books on Maine?”

Me: “Let’s take a look!”

(I walk her over to our travel section. Unfortunately, there are no books on Maine. I try to make my disappointment obvious the customer.)

Me: “Darn. I’m really sorry, but we don’t seem to have any books on Maine!”

Woman: “Well. That’s really too bad.”

(I walk back toward the register with her.)

Me: “No, really, I am very sorry. I know how frustrating it can be to come in and see that we don’t have a book.”

Woman: “Well, I drove down here, put money in the meter, and walked in here, only to find out that you don’t have what I’m looking for.”

Me: “Ma’am, as I said, I really am truly sorry.”

(The woman proceeds to repeat how inconvenienced she’s been because she paid for a parking meter and storms off. My manager walks up to me.)

Manager: “What was that all about?”

Me: *after explaining* “Let’s just say she wasn’t thrilled about paying for parking.”

Minimum Spend, Maximum Satisfaction

| Boston, MA, USA | At The Checkout, Books & Reading, Criminal & Illegal, Money

(I work at a small bookstore. We have a credit card minimum. I get so sick of people telling me that this is illegal that I look up the legislation a few months ago. A woman brings a greeting card to the front.)

Me: “$2.66, please.”

Woman: *hands me a credit card*

Me: “Do you happen to have cash? We have a $7 minimum.”

Woman: *gleefully angry* “Oh! That’s against the law young man, and I’ll be reporting you!”

Me: “Actually, it’s not.”

Woman: “Yes, it is! What’s the name of this business?!”

Me: “2010 house resolution 4173, also known as the Dodd-Frank act, says we can set up to a $10 minimum as long as it’s consistent between issuers. It’s on page 698. And the name is [Store].”

Woman: “You’re a little smart a**.” *throws greeting card on the ground and walks away*

An Off-The-Wall Purchase

| CA, USA | Books & Reading, Musical Mayhem

(I am a musician and an avid fan of rock and folk music, so I’m a little bit of a walking encyclopedia. One customer comes up with a Led Zeppelin book for thirty-five dollars, and we make small talk as I ring him up.)

Me: “So what’s your favorite Zeppelin album?”

Customer: “Oh, it’s my friend who’s the fan, not me. I just wanted to get him a gift.”

Me: “That’s awfully nice of you.”

Customer: “Yeah, he went to The Wall concert and loved it. I heard it was fantastic.”

(A light bulb goes off in my head.)

Me: “Wait…The Wall?”

Customer: “Erm… yes.”

Me: “That’s not Led Zeppelin, sir. That album’s actually Pink Floyd.”

Customer: “Oh… OH. Oh, dear! I got the wrong book!”

Me: *laughing* “No worries, sir! You just happen to be talking to a big fan of Floyd. Here, let me show you a better book.”

(I not only find the customer a book about ‘Pink Floyd’ for the same price as the ‘Led Zeppelin’ book, but I also convince him to get the newest ‘Rolling Stones’ collectible magazine specifically about the band. After I process the return and ring him up…)

Customer: “Good thing you happened to be working, my dear! Imagine me walking out with a book for my friend about the wrong band!”

Me: “It’s my pleasure as both a bookseller and a Floydian. Shine on, and have a good day!”

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