The Picture Of The Modern World’s Reading Ability

, , , | Right | February 19, 2020

(A woman with two children comes into the children’s room.)

Customer: “My daughter needs to read a picture book for summer reading. Where are the picture books?”

Me: “They’re on the left side, all along the walls.” *sees that her daughter is already reading one of the picture books that we had on display* “Actually, your daughter already has one, so you don’t need to look for another.”

Customer: “No, that’s not a picture book. It has words!”

Me: “Picture books have words.”

Customer: “Then why do they call them picture books?”

Me: “Because they usually have large pictures.”

Customer: “Well, what do you call books without words?”

Me: “Wordless books.”

Customer: “But picture books don’t have words, so they’re the same thing.” *to her daughter* “Stop reading that; you need to read a picture book!”

Me: “Your daughter is reading a picture book, and picture books do have words.”

Customer: “But that doesn’t make any sense!”

Me: “Wordless books are books without words. Picture books have large pictures and are meant to be read to younger kids. That’s why they’re good for your third-grade child’s summer reading project.”

Customer: “Fine, but I still think that’s misleading. How does the school expect me to find all these things for her?”

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Steven King’s New Horror: The American Education System

, , , , , | Right | January 31, 2020

(A group of older teenagers walks in and one greets a Shih Tzu in a cart. The dog barks and growls at her, sending her running. The teenagers come up to my register a short time later.)

Me: “Oh, you were the one scared by the little dog.”

Teenager #1: “Yeah! He almost bit me!”

Me: “Yeah, he was a mini Cujo, huh?”

(There’s a short pause.)

Teenager #2: “What’s a mini Cujo?”

(I pause and wait for one of her friends to explain, but they have the same blank look.) 

Teenager #2: “Is that like a type of dog?”

Me: “Uh, it’s a book by Stephen King about a Saint Bernard that’s bitten by a bat and contracts rabies and then goes around attacking and killing people.” 

(They all gasp and joke that [Teenager #1] is going to get rabies.) 

Me: “Yeah, just a crazy dog analogy.”

Teenager #3: *as they are on their way out* “What’s an analogy?”

(I think I died a little bit inside that day.)

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When They Go Low, You Go Lower

, , , , , , | Right | January 28, 2020

(It is around Christmas when Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming,” has come out. When a book is released in hardcover, it’ll usually be a year or two — depending on how popular the book is — before it’s released in paperback. It’ll usually come out in paperback when it’s printed in large print. I know for a fact that we don’t have any large-print copies because my manager hadn’t ordered them.)

Female Customer: “Um, excuse me! Do you have Michelle Obama’s new book in paperback?”

Me: “No, ma’am, I’m afraid it’s only available in hardcover.”

Customer: “What is with you bookstores and only having it in hardcover?! Ain’t nobody can afford that!” *walks off in a huff*

(Five minutes later, she appears with five books in her hand.)

Customer: “Uh, b****! I found this in paperback!” *answers her phone that is ringing* “Girl, I found this book in paperback. This dumb, fat b**** told me they didn’t! So, uh!” *snaps her fingers in victory in my face as I’m ringing her up*

Me: *tells her the total and the rest of the transaction goes normally, and then she leaves*

Coworker: “Did you tell her that those paperbacks are in Spanish?”

Me: “No.”

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Standing In Line

, , , , , | Friendly | January 24, 2020

(The year is 1987. “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” has just been published. Douglas Adams is on a book tour and is making a stop at a bookstore in Venice, California. My friends, big Adams fans, decide to go and I go along. I should point out that I have never read anything by Douglas Adams. I have actually made a bit of a light-hearted vow not to, not because I don’t like him but because ALL of my friends are into him and quote him extensively, and my college freshman orientation was themed around “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Thus, I have essentially absorbed the books by osmosis, know the plot backward and forward, and can quote it just as easily as they can. I have just never read the books. We get to the bookstore, they get their copies of Dirk Gently, and we stand in line for the autograph. As expected, the line is quite long. We finally get to the front, he signs my friends’ books, and he holds out his hand to me to take my book — Diane Duane’s “The Door Into Shadow” — to sign.)

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t have a book for you to sign.” *shows the book is not his*

Douglas Adams: *staring at me quizzically*

Me: “I haven’t actually read anything of yours, but my friends love your work.”

Douglas Adams: “And you stood in line for two hours anyway?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Douglas Adams: “What are you, English?”

(I suddenly realized that telling an author to his face that I’ve never read their work is not exactly the nicest thing, but he didn’t seem to be bothered at all. We laughed at me queueing up for hours and we moved along. I fully expected to show up as a character in one of his future books as the guy who just stands in line. Since then, a friend has gotten me a lovely leatherbound copy of the entire Hitchhiker’s series and it sat on my shelf for a year before I finally broke down and read it.)

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The Curious Incident Of The Customer In The Bookstore

, , , , , | Right | December 13, 2019

(I’m working at the customer service desk at a big chain bookstore. A man approaches the desk.)

Me: “Hi! How can I help you?”

Customer: “I’m looking for a book. I’m really sorry, but I don’t remember the title. It’s really long and complicated. But I think the cover of the book is blue, and it has a picture of a horse on the front.”

Me: “Actually, it’s red, and it has an upside-down picture of a dog on the front. It’s called The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime.

(I hand him a copy of the book.)

Customer: “Oh, wow, that’s exactly the book I was looking for! How did you figure it out?”

Me: “I’m magical.”

(I didn’t have the heart to tell him it had been on the bestseller list for about a month and he was only the hundredth person that week to ask me for it!)

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