Ordering Books Not By The Book(store)

| NY, USA | Bizarre, Books & Reading, Popular

(I work as customer service for an online bookstore that also has a physical store.)

Caller: “Hi, what’s your website? I want to buy books.”

Me: “I’ll spell it for you. It’s [Site].”

Caller: “Could you repeat that? I need to write it down so I can take it to [Cell Phone Provider] and ask them to order for me.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I must’ve heard wrongly. I thought you said [Cell Phone Provider].”

Caller: “That’s what I said!”

Me: “Ma’am, I don’t think they provide those services.”

Caller: “Oh, I know. But I’m a paying customer and an old lady. I’ll just make a fuss until they help me.”

Me: “Ma’am, I can help you order over the phone right now. I also see by your area code that you live near the store. You can come in to our store instead for help.”

Caller: “Oh, I don’t want to bother you. It’s okay; they’ll help me. What was the site?”

Me: “Well, it’s [Site], but you aren’t bothering me. This is actually my job, so I can help you.”

Caller: “Nonsense, you sound like a busy girl. Thanks!” *hangs up*

Santa’s Little Helper

| Nashville, TN, USA | Holidays, Theme Of The Month

(I am working as a cashier at a bookstore two weeks before Christmas. The customer I am helping is an older, portly man with a white beard and hair. He’s wearing jeans with a red sweater and white suspenders. He even has on red sneakers. There’s no getting around it: he looks like Santa on his day off. As I’m checking out his purchases, I notice that behind him in line there is a little girl tugging her mother’s pant leg and whispering furiously to her. I finished helping the older man with his purchases and wish him a happy holiday, then turn to the mother and daughter to help them with theirs. As the mother sets her books down on the counter, she turns to her daughter.)

Mother: “It’s okay, honey. You can go ask him.”

(The little girl approaches the man as he and his wife are preparing to leave, and taps on his leg to get his attention. He turns and looks at her.)

Customer: “Yes, dear?”

Little Girl: “Excuse me, sir…” *she looks back at her mother shyly, who encourages her, then turns back, whispering* “…are you Santa?”

Customer: *smiling and whispering back* “Yes, I am.”

Little Girl: “Really?”

(The customer beckons his wife over, who approaches with a smile and reaches into her purse, handing him something, which he then presents to the little girl: a candy cane. This seems to convince her, and she and “Santa” chat for a little bit while his wife talks to her mother and me.)

Customer’s Wife: “All the kids ask him that, and he loves how happy it makes them when he says yes. That’s when he got the idea to carry around the candy canes and dress in red. This is his favorite time of year.”

(“Santa” and his new friend finish their conversation and join the rest of us at the counter as I am finishing ringing up the little girl’s mother.)

Me: *to “Santa”* “You’re awesome.”

(I got a candy cane, too! Merry Christmas!)

Christmas Is Closing In

| Sheffield, England, UK | Holidays, Theme Of The Month

(I have just served a family with kids who, as they leave the shop, notice our selection of Christmas products. One of the kids picks up a bell and starts ringing it. This story takes place at around 7:00 pm.)

Kid: “Listen, everyone! The store is now closing!”

(He then puts the bell back and rushes off out of the shop with his family. The assistant manager and myself look at each other in exasperation at ‘yet another kid playing with the bells,’ and share a quick chuckle about if anyone took it seriously. Lo and behold, the next person to approach the counter…)

Customer: “What time does [Shopping Centre] close tonight?”

Assistant Manager: “Ten o’clock.”

Customer: “So why are you closing early?”

(The assistant manager and I glance at each other again, trying not to laugh, and the customer quickly realises the truth.)

Customer: “Oh! It wasn’t one of you who said it?”

Assistant Manager: “No, it wasn’t.”

Me: “It was just some kid messing around.”

(She sounded quite relieved after finding out the truth, but we did note that for a few minutes after the kid’s ‘announcement’ the shop was noticeably emptier. We don’t think she was the only one who took him seriously.)

Can’t Buy The Seedy CD

| TX, USA | Bad Behavior, Family & Kids, Musical Mayhem

(I’m a music team lead at a branch of a major chain of bookstores. We’re located in a shopping square in a rich neighborhood. Because of our location and the level of attempted theft we’ve seen, our music, DVDs, audio-books, and e-readers have been placed in a separate section with EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) scanners. Leads been instructed not to allow items in the section onto the book floor without having been checked out, and to put the EAS sound over other customers, as the customers get it and it’s usually a check-out misunderstanding. We are to use our best judgment on who we allow in and out of the section. This particular late night, there’s a homecoming dance at a nearby high school. It’s also best to mention I play piano and guitar at a restaurant down the street two nights a week.)

Me: *having been assisting a customer and heard the EAS sound off* “Excuse me, sir, if you’re still shopping I can hold your CDs here for you until you’re ready to check out.”

Young Customer: *dressed up in a tailored suit* “No, that’s okay. My mom’s just waiting for me at the front.” *starts to leave again*

Me: “I understand. Unfortunately, we have to keep all CDs and films in this section until they’re checked out. Are you ready to purchase?”

Young Customer: “No, I just want to show this to my mom.” *the CDs are by a classic rock group with PG-suggested labels on the fronts*

Me: “I can hold the CDs here for you while you go get her.”

Young Customer: *progressively getting louder* “But she’s just right there!”

Me: “Sir, store policy is we can not allow product beyond this point without a receipt.”

Young Customer: “This is bull-s***! I’m back here all the time! Your store should know that I’m a good kid!! My mom knows I’m a good kid!”

Me: *beyond annoyed but still professional, having quietly paged for the manager on duty* “Sir, I need you to lower your voice, please. As I’ve stated, you can show them to her. You would just need to bring her back here.”

Young Customer: “You don’t know what you’re talking about! You’re new and already know everything, don’t you?!”

Me: “I’ve worked here for over a year, sir, and our policy’s been the same.”

Young Customer: “Just because I’m a teenager doesn’t mean I’m a thief! I’ll have my dad sue for unlawful discrimination!”

(My manager, a friend and fellow musician, arrives and I explain the situation.)

Manager: “Unfortunately, sir, she’s correct. I can accompany you to find your mother while she holds the CDs for you.”

Young Customer: “My dad’s a lawyer! He won’t stand for this sh***y place staying open after this!”

Mother: *having finally heard the ruckus* “What did he do thi— Oh, hello, [My Name]! How’re you doing? Will you be playing tomorrow night?”

Me: *recognizing her as a frequent patron of the restaurant* “Yes, ma’am. Looking forward to it. Is this your son?”

Mother: *clearly just as annoyed as me* “I said I wouldn’t buy those CDs for you! They’re not appropriate for your age! Now give them to the young woman and get your butt in the car.”

Young Customer: *blushes heavily, stammers, then finally leaves with his apologetic mom*

Manager: “He’ll never show his face back here again.”

Me: “If he does, I’ll change the in-store playlist to Buddy Guy. That oughta keep ‘im out.”

What A Bunch Of Oxy-Morons

| USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(A woman and her husband come up to the customer service counter.)

Woman: “Where is your non-fiction section?”

(Since ‘non-fiction’ ranges from cookbooks to field guides to history and beyond, I have no idea how to respond, so I stare at her for a moment before answering.)

Me: “Well, most of the store is non-fiction. What kind of book are you looking for?”

Woman: “It’s a non-fiction book about some people.”

Me: “Yes. What kind? Is it a biography or maybe true crime?”

Woman: “No, it’s just a non-fiction book about some people. My friend told me it was good. I’m in a book club.”

Husband: “Don’t you just have a non-fiction section?”

Woman: “It’s a non-fiction novel about some people!”

(‘Non-fiction novel’ is an oxymoron. I have to explain what nonfiction is, and she continues to insist that she just needs me to point her to the non-fiction section. She doesn’t have a title, author, or even a general description beyond it being about some people. She is convinced that if I take her to the ‘non-fiction section,’ she’ll find it. Finally, I try to politely end the conversation, because this is pointless.)

Me: “Well, I’m really not sure where to point you, since we’re already standing in a non-fiction section. Do you have any idea what or who the book is about?”

Husband: *looking confused and defeated* “It’s just a non-fiction book… it’s about people.”

Woman: “Maybe I should go get more information from my friend.”

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