Ironic Irony

, , , , , | Working | October 8, 2018

(My sister has spent over thirty years in retail. As a present for her, I decided to buy a copy of “Pretending You Care,” a humor book about retail and the problems of retail workers. The bookstore I frequent doesn’t have any copies on the shelves, so I go to have it special ordered for me.)

Salesman:Pretending You Care? Oh, yeah, I read that one; it’s really good. It’s about how to drive sales by showing empathy with your customers, right?”

(Oh, I wish that I thought he was being ironic intentionally.)

Jack Reacher Comes Out Of The Closet

, , , , , | Right | September 5, 2018

(I’m a librarian, working in a large city centre public library. I should also add that I’m male and reasonably conservative in dress and appearance. On this day, I’m putting together a display of books, called “Loud and Proud”, promoting LGBT authors. A middle aged male customer wanders over and takes a look.)

Customer: “‘Ere, mate, what’s all this?”

Me: “It’s a promotion we’re running to coincide with the city’s Pride parade. There have been several high profile gay and lesbian authors recently, and we’re trying to—”

Customer: “Yeah, yeah. I get that. But who are these people?”

Me: “Some you might be familiar with already. Both Jake Arnott and Sarah Waters have been adapted for television, and essentially they’re great storytellers regardless of their—”

Customer: “Yeah, sure. But my point is, where are the books for the rest of us? You know, for us normal people?”

(At this point I pause. The walls are lined with bookshelves, there are more free-standing bookshelves around the room, plus spinners, racks and more. All filled with books.)

Me: “Well, there’s plenty of other stuff to choose from…”

Customer: “Yeah, but don’t you feel a bit awkward about all of this?” *he gestures towards the one small display stand being used*

Me: “Not at all. I’m gay myself.”

(Customer looked as if he was going to explode, eventually settling on throwing his books on the floor and storming out. I shared this story with my manager, who laughed her head off, and suggested we run another display called “100% STRAIGHT!” consisting of men’s fitness guides, SAS memoirs, and Lee Child/Andy McNab thrillers. We eventually did something along those lines, but with a less provocative title.)

Bridge Over The River Why?

, , | Right | September 5, 2018

(A woman comes in to the bookstore, I’m at the desk with another customer. She “peeks” into our space and says she just has a “quick question.”)

Customer: “Where is the Bridge book?”

Me: “I don’t know offhand; I will check after I’m finished with this gentleman.”

(She storms away towards our register. A coworker asks:)

Coworker: “Do you think she wanted this? *holding one of the many “summer bridge activities” books we sell*

Me: “No idea.”

(I see the woman storming out of the store (you can tell when they’re storming) and flag her down. She stomps over to us.)

Me: “Is this the [Activity Book] that you wanted?”

Customer: “NO. I want the required summer reading book for Junior High.”

Me: “Oh. A Long Walk to Water?”

Customer: “Yes!” *sneers*

Me: “Hmm, no bridge in the title.”

Wibbly Wobbly, Rhymey Wimey

, , , , , | Learning | September 3, 2018

I am discussing poetry with my freshman Honors English class. We’re talking about how great poetry usually comes from deep, strong feelings. A student asks about the “happy poetry” from Doctor Who.

I am baffled.

I try to ask him if he remembers any of it, so he can give me a clue to what he means. He can’t. I ask him which Doctor he refers to.

He just says, “Who!”

A bit frustrated, I once again ask him which one of the Doctors he is referring to, specifying there has been more than one. I’m just trying to zero in on at least the season, so I can maybe Google what he means.

He stares at me for a few seconds. Then he hits his head and almost screams.

“Seuss! I meant Doctor Seuss!”

I have to bite my tongue to not laugh uncontrollably. The rest of the class has no such composure.

The Walking Dead Social Constructs

, , , , , | Friendly | August 26, 2018

(I have a table at a local festival where I am selling copies of the books I wrote. A male customer, probably between 45 and 50 years old, comes to my table. He asks how it’s going — the usual — and then picks up my newest book about a zombie world. I tell him a bit of what it’s about. I’m a girl.)

Customer: “Hmm… I’m just trying to think if a boy would like this.”

Me: *happily* “Of course a boy would like it!”

Customer: “Yeah, but the protagonist is a girl.”

Me: *not quite as nicely as my last answer to him* “So? Boys can read about girls.”

Customer: *shaking his head* “Nah. No they can’t.”

Me: “Why not?”

Customer: “They can’t relate.”

Me: *clearly annoyed at this point* “Of course they can! Girls read books about boys.”

Customer: “Yeah, but that’s different.”

Me: “How? How is that different?”

Customer: *long pause* “Girls are different.”

Me: “No, they’re not. A girl reading a book about a boy is the same as a boy reading a book about a girl.”

Customer: *still shaking his head* “No, I don’t think so.”

Me: “Why can a girl read a book about a boy, but a boy can’t read a book about a girl?”

Customer: “Well, my son is 17… and he likes to read… I don’t have any cash on me, though.”

Me: *smiling* “That’s okay; I take credit cards, too.”

Customer: “Oh…”

(He buys it, I think only because he realizes he is being a moron and feels bad for clearly offending me.)

Me: “Do you want a receipt emailed or texted to you?”

Customer: *rudely* “No, then I’ll have to give you my information.”

Me: “Okay, you don’t have to get one; I was just giving you the option.”

(It was so hard for me not to sign the book, “I hope you like it even though it’s about a GIRL!” But I was also giving away chapter samplers for my next book, and was able to finish the transaction off with, “Oh, and here’s a free chapter sampler for my book that’s coming out next year. Your son will definitely like it because it has girl AND boy protagonists.”)

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