A License To Believe

, , , , | Right | July 17, 2020

At my store, we sell a book that has pictures of the most iconic license plate of each US state. A customer is looking through it with her elementary-school-aged daughter. One license plate from New Mexico is BRIGHT YELLOW with red and green text. It’s VERY distinctive.

Daughter: *To her mother* “Wow, look at that one!”

Mother: *To the daughter* “That can’t be real.”

She approaches me.

Mother: “Why would you have this book? It doesn’t even have real license plates!”

Me: “Actually, that is a real license plate! I saw a lot of them when I was driving through the southwest last summer.”

Mother: “Well, I don’t believe you!”

I am taken aback and responding without thinking.

Me: “You don’t have to believe me. It’s still true.”

The mother scowled at me, grabbed her daughter’s hand, and dragged her out of the store.

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Oh! The Tantrums You’ll Throw!

, , , , , | Right | July 11, 2020

A coworker and I are shelving a good-sized stack of books on a bottom shelf in our children’s section of the store. As we’re sitting or kneeling there, a customer, who is male and about sixty or seventy years old, comes over.

A customer walks up to us briskly and thrusts out a copy of “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!”

Customer: “Don’t you have this in regular format?”

My coworker and I look at one another.

Coworker: “That’s the only kind we have of that title.”

Customer: “No, it’s not! This is different! I just want the regular book!”

Me: “Well, then, what is so different from this one and the ‘regular book’?”

Customer: “It doesn’t have this sticker on it!”

Coworker: “Unfortunately, that is all that we have of that title currently. I can order you another one, if you’d like?”

The customer storms off with the book in hand, muttering under his breath.

We continue to shelve, but I get called away to help a customer. The angry customer comes back to the children’s section and throws the book at my coworker, causing it to hit her on her leg. It’s a different copy with no sticker but it is the same book.

Customer: “See! If you work here, you should know your d*** inventory better!” *Storms off*

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It’s Exactly What You Asked For!

, , , , | Right | July 8, 2020

Customer: “I’m looking for an ABC book.”

I take her to the children’s section and show her a book. Each page has the letter, a picture of something beginning with that letter, and the name of the object, e.g., the letter “A,” a picture of an apple, and the word “apple.”

Me: “How about this one?”

Customer: “I want one where it’s got a picture of something to go with each letter, like an apple for A, etc.”

Me: “Ma’am, this book has exactly that.”

I am holding the book open on the “apple” page for her to see.

Customer: “No, it’s not quite what I asked for.” *Leaves*

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Boys Will Be Boys, Right?

, , , , , | Learning | June 30, 2020

I work as a tutor at an “academy” whose programme was specifically created to help kids learn English through reading. It’s important to note that the programme was created in South Korea and is licensed out to business owners who are mostly also native Korean speakers. This mostly isn’t a problem, but sometimes…

One of my students is a particularly bright ten-year-old whose English is excellent and who reads at quite a high level. He tends to be assigned longer books as a result.

Me: “Hey, buddy, how’s it going? What did you read this week?” 

Student: *Looking worried* “Uh… Lord of the Flies.”

Me: “I’m sorry? Did you say Lord of the Flies?”

Student: “Yes.”

I know that some literary classics are published in abridged and expurgated versions to make them more accessible for younger audiences. I wouldn’t think this treatment would work for “Lord of the Flies,” but maybe?

Me: “Can I take a look at your copy of the book?”

He produces the book. Nope, it’s exactly the same edition I read in high school when I was seventeen.

Student: “You know, um, I don’t think this book is for kids. It was really scary.”

Me: “You’re definitely right about that.”

After his session was over, I went to my boss and suggested that this particular book not be assigned to kids younger than about fifteen. She seemed baffled at the idea that a literary classic that’s ABOUT children might not be FOR children — “It’s on the programme list!” — but I eventually persuaded her not to assign it to any more preteens.


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Life Is Stranger Than…

, , , , | Right | June 12, 2020

Patron: “Do you guys have the Fifty Shades books?”

Me: *Checks the computer* “Yep, we have numbers one and three, and I can put you on hold for number two. Follow me; I’ll show you where they are.”

I head back to the shelf.

Me: “Here you go.”

Patron: “Oh, they’re fiction?”

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