Category: History

Customers who don’t remember history are not only doomed to repeat it, but in some of these stories, to completely rewrite it!

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Dealing With A Real Live Wire Here

| St. Louis, MO, USA | History, Technology

(An old guy looking at DVD players calls me over.)

Customer: “Do you guys have any of these that can take a real, high-quality cable?”

Me: *confused* “These all take your typical component cables. Some of them take S-video cables. Is that what you mean?”

(I think he might be talking about S-video since it’s higher quality, then I figure he might have been taken in by those “gold-plated” cables they sell at some stores.)

Me: “These will get just as good a video signal as those expensive cables they sell at other stores. Those are just a scam.”

Customer: “No, these all take those little cheap plastic black crap lines. I mean like a REAL cable. Do they even make good stuff anymore, or this is all just crap they make these days?”

Me: *now really confused* “You mean the component cables? The ones that have the red, yellow and white ends?”

Customer: “Yeah! They’re little plastic crap! I have a cable that I’ve used for years, it’s better than any of these things. I bought it with my VCR. It’s big and metal, not this cheap plastic crap. It’s got to be at least a quarter-inch wide.”

Me: “Uhh… when did you get your VCR?”

Customer: “When they first came out. I was right on top of it.”

Me: “You mean like in the late ’70s?”

Customer: *pause, thinking* “Yeah, that sounds about right. It’s so much bigger and heavier than the ones they made after that. It’s got all kinds of buttons on it. The ones they made after that, they’re all light and cheap and break after you use them once. I’ve been using it for years, but you can’t find tapes anymore, so I might get one of these. But none of them take the cable I have. This is all just cheap plastic crap. The one I have, it was real expensive when I got it. It’s silver and big. It’s got to work better than this trash.”

Me: “Well… um… technology changes over time. The cables we use now are smaller, lighter, and more flexible, and get a better picture. They’re pretty much the only ones used with modern electronics. The fact that they’re cheaper, well, that just has to do with technology becoming more affordable.”

Customer: “No, this cable is about a quarter-inch wide at least, probably more, and it’s silver metal. There’s no way you can tell me that some cheap plastic crap is going to get a better picture.”

(This went on until I realized that I just couldn’t help him, I could not convince him that an aged, oversize, long-obsolete cable he bought in the ’70s could be used with a 2000s DVD player, nor could I convince him that a modern component cable would in fact have a better picture and sound quality than his precious cable – the fact that his was big, silver, and expensive top-of-the-line stuff when he bought it three decades earlier was proof enough that it was better than anything out there today. He ended up not getting a DVD player because I was only trained to sell him “crap.”)

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Ukraizy

| NY, USA | Geography, History

(I am buying a newspaper, in addition to other things, which has an article about the Ukraine on the front.)

Customer: “You know, you kids should really be worrying more.”

Me: “Oh? Why is that?”

Customer: “Because World War Three is coming.”

Me: *laughing* “Well, I’m not so much the military type. I suppose I’ll just go hide in Canada.”

Customer: “Oh, you think that! But Canada is voting soon to leave the Commonwealth! They want to be part of Russia!”

Me: *thoroughly confused* “Really? I suppose that puts Alaska in an awkward position.”

Customer: “You don’t even know!”

(After this, she went on for several minutes about assorted crackpot political theories. I felt bad for the people waiting.)

Gone With The Memory

| Austin, TX, USA | History, Movies & TV, Popular

(From the time of its initial home video release in the early 1980s, Gone With The Wind was only available as a deluxe package costing roughly $100 or more. This changed in 1998 when, in preparation for its 60th anniversary the following year, the film was finally released at the “sell through” price of $19.99. The video sold like hotcakes; we could hardly keep it in stock. One customer was very excited when her reserved copy came in:)

Customer: “I am sooooo happy they’re finally putting this out at a decent price!”

Me: “Yeah, it took ’em long enough.”

Customer: “I know, and it’s just soooo goooood!”

Me: “One of the greats.”

Customer: “It is. Man, I remember when it first came out.”

(I should’ve left well enough alone, but seeing that this woman couldn’t have been more than 30 years of age, my inner movie nerd just couldn’t stay quiet.)

Me: “You remember when it came out?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “You?”

Customer: “Yes, it was a very big deal.”

Me: “I know… but it came out in 1939.”

Customer: “It did?”

Me: “Yes, you can look at the date on the back of the package.”

Customer: *looking at the back of the box* “Huh… Well, I wasn’t alive then.”

Me: “Few of us were.”

Customer: *with an “a-ha!” smile* “I remember when they put it to color.”

Me: “It was shot in color.”

Customer: *red in the face* “Well… I REMEMBER SOMETHIN’!”

Declaration Of Independently Sourced

| CT, USA | Crazy Requests, Extra Stupid, History

(I’m upstairs at the reference desk, fielding calls and helping patrons.)

Me: “Hello, this is [Library] Reference. Can I help you?”

Patron: “Where can I find the Declaration of Independence?”

Me: “Like the text?”

Patron: “No, like the real thing.”

Me: “Um, we don’t have the real thing, but we have a few copies of the text if that’s something you’re interested in getting? It’s all the same words, I promise.”

Patron: “But, like, do you have the actual paper?”

Me: “No, we don’t have the actual paper.”

Patron: “Where would I get that?”

Me: “In Washington.”

Patron: “Oh.” *hangs up*

Tobaccosaurus

| St. Louis, MO, USA | Family & Kids, History, Pets & Animals, Religion

(I work as an educator in a science museum in St. Louis. One of the activities in my section of the museum involved putting together the cast of a Dromaeosaurus skeleton.)

Eight-Year-Old Boy: “I know why this dinosaur died.”

Me: “You do?”

Eight-Year-Old Boy: “He was a smoker.”

(Later that day, a middle school group is passing by…)

Seventh-Grade Girl: *addressing her peers* “This dinosaur died because he didn’t believe in Jesus.”

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