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How Not To Die Of Embarrassment

, , , , , , , | Right | December 16, 2022

My hair went grey in my twenties and is now completely white. Apart from that, I do not look my age (mid-fifties) and have never looked or acted my age; I come across as much younger.

I am cashiering at the bookstore. While working, I try to engage my customers in conversation, joking, or whatever they seem to need at the moment. There is a line, but we are handling it pretty steadily so there is no huge wait.

I check out a woman for her exercise magazines while she talks with the woman behind her. They apparently met in the store, and the second woman is giving the first woman information about her personal training and nutrition business in hopes that the first woman will recommend her to clients.

The first woman is already a well-established personal trainer and is interested. I respect their conversation and don’t interrupt except for the questions pertinent to the sale. When it is complete, without being prompted, I give the first lady a pen and some paper and say she can stand just to the side at the counter to write down notes if she wants to.

Then, the second lady puts her purchases down. She is with her partner, who also has some books and things. As I sort through all of it, I notice the title of one book which catches my attention. It’s titled “How Not To Die” and has a new sticker on it that says it’s on sale.

I chuckle to myself and say to the partner:

Me: “How not to die? Just don’t do it!”

It’s obviously a joke, and he chuckles in reply. The second woman replies:

Customer #2: “Oh, you should read this! It’s all about the foods that will help you live longer!” 

I smile a little, but then she says:

Customer #2: “Because, you know… you’re old!”

I am very surprised. I notice that all conversation in the area has stopped, and the first lady has stopped writing and is looking over at my current customer, who she has been considering recommending to clients. 

I’m really not certain how I want to respond. Laugh it off, be insulted? I am at a loss.

Customer #2’s Partner: “You really shouldn’t say things like that.”

Customer #2: *Looks at me in surprise* “But I’m sure you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol — all the old people problems.”

Me: “As a matter of fact, I don’t have any of those, nor any other health conditions, not that it’s any of your business.”

Customer #2: “Oh, I didn’t mean anything by that. It’s just that this book will help you so much with that!”

Me: “Your total is [total].”

I bagged the items as I noticed the first lady crumple the paper she was writing on. I quietly took it and the pen back from her and she gave me a sympathetic smile. As the second lady left, I heard her partner speaking to her in very stern tones.

I really wished I’d told her that she would one day be dealing with “old people problems” at some point, too.

Sadly, This Happens, And That’s The Gospel Truth

, , , , , | Right | November 29, 2022

Customer: “Do you sell the Bible here?”

Me: “Yes, we do. Which version would you like?”

Customer:The Bible.”

Me: “Yes, I understand. Which version?”

Customer: “The one Jesus wrote.”

This Is Why We Need Libraries

, , , , , , , , | Right | November 26, 2022

I work in a public library. A woman comes up to our help desk with a young girl about five or six years old. It should be noted that the woman is white, but the young girl is black.

Patron: “Hello. Long story short, I am fostering this girl while her asylum application is going through the motions. Her English is limited, but she’s fluent in French. My French is okay, but I’m having trouble explaining the concept of a library.”

Me: “My coworker is fluent in French. Maybe she can explain easier?”

Patron: “Thanks, but I don’t think it’s a translation issue. I just don’t think she understands the concept.”

Me: “Hmm. I’ll call my coworker over and let’s see what we can do.”

I call my coworker over, who is originally from Martinique. After explaining the situation, he starts speaking to the little girl. What they say was translated to me after.

Coworker: *To the little girl* “So, how it works is that you look at the books. When you find one you like, you bring it to me or to my friend here, and we make a note. Then you can borrow it!”

Little Girl: “What does ‘borrow’ mean?”

Coworker: “It means that as long as you promise to bring it back when you have finished reading it, you can take it home.”

Little Girl: “But I have no money.”

Coworker: “It’s okay. You don’t need money. You just need to bring the book to me or my friend. As long as you’re with your guardian, we can sort out the rest.”

Little Girl: “So… I can read the books?”

Coworker: “Yes!”

Little Girl: *Eyes going wide, looking around the whole place* “I can read… all the books?”

Coworker: *Laughing* “Haha, yes, as fast as you can read them!”

She is simply awestruck. She slowly turns around, as if the sheer size of the place is finally dawning on her. She then tugs on the shirt of her foster mum.

Little Girl: “Let’s go find the books!”

She checked out with five books (the maximum for a child dependent on an adult library card) and she was back within days to return them and check out five more.

After a few months of this, and as her English improved unbelievably quickly (I wonder how that was happening?) she was able to get her own card, and her voracious appetite for books increased as a result.

Sixteen years later, the asylum application is a thing of the past, and this little girl is now a young woman studying for her degree in Literature. She uses our library for all her resource materials.

At the time of writing this story, she currently has the maximum number of books out on loan and has never been late in returning or extending their loans.

This story is part of our end-of-year Feel Good roundup for 2022!

Read the next Feel Good 2022 story!

Read the Feel Good 2022 roundup!

“I’m Your Mother. And I Can Do Whatever The [Bleep] I Want.”

, , , , | Related | November 26, 2022

My seven-year-old and I have an outing over the weekend to our local farmer’s market, after which he’s SUPER-wired. To help him burn off some of that excess energy, we walk over to our local comic store, which has a pretty big kids’ section. I don’t really know how I expect this to go, since he’s only familiar with a couple of characters and I don’t know what will catch his eye. (He’s also a very advanced reader for his age.)

He ends up bouncing all over the place, looking at all kinds of random stuff and asking if we could get it, and being a good sport when I have to say no, either because of weight, price, or content. This particular exchange, however, stands out as extra funny.

Son: “Can we get this?”

He shows me an omnibus collection of “The Boys” — a hyper-violent hard-R-rated comic.

Me: “No, that’s for grown-ups.”

Son: “Oh. Does it have bad words in it, like ‘stupid’ and ‘shut up’?”

Me: *Pauses* “Yes. Yes, it does.”

He put down the book and moved on. In the end, he ended up picking a Lego Batman book.

Did They Seriously Walk Into A Bookstore And Say, “I’m Looking For A Book; It’s Blue”?

, , , , | Right | November 16, 2022

I work in a used bookshop in a small row of shops. We have a good selection of books available on the shop floor arranged in proper alphabetical order, and a large storage area where extra books are stored by surname initial letter only.

We have far too many books coming in several times a week to have the time to completely alphabetise the stock. We’re perfectly willing to go look in our storage if a customer wants a particular book. It’s important to note that the storage area for the shops is out the back (staff only) door, down a flight of steps, across the staff car park, and up another flight of steps to the storage units.

Customer: “I’m looking for a book I read years ago. I can’t find it on your shelves. Can you see if you’ve got any in the back?”

Me: “Sure! Which book are you looking for?”

Customer: “It’s by Stephen King.”

Me: “Okay, what’s the title?”

Customer: “I’m not sure.”

I know there is a HUGE number of Stephen King books in the storage.

Me: “He’s written a lot of books. Can you remember anything at all about the title? Or what the book is about?”

Customer: “No, but I’m sure the cover was dark blue. Or black. It was really good.”

Me: “Okay, was it about a person? Or animal? Can you remember anything at all?”

Customer: “It was a horror story. I do remember that, but that’s about it.”

Me: “Sorry, but without a title, I’m not going to be able to find it. He really has written a lot of books.”

Customer: “Can you bring them all up here and I can look through them?”

Me: *Pauses* “No, sorry. There are several boxes worth.”

Customer: “Well, this is terrible service!”

I checked later, and at a rough guess, there were around thirty crates of books stored under K, and I’d guess around a quarter of those were Stephen King! Sorry, but I’m not carrying seven crates of books into the shop so you can buy ONE and then carrying them all back again!