Children Act Off-The-Cuff

| Iowa City, IA, USA | At The Checkout, Family & Kids, Rude & Risque

(I am working as a cashier at a bookstore when a customer approaches me to pay for her items. Her son is touching everything and messing up all of the nearby display, and doesn’t listen when she tells him to keep his hands to himself.)

Customer: *finally growing frustrated* “Don’t make me put your cuffs on!”

(Her son immediately calms down and starts behaving himself. I think I must have misheard what she said, but I can’t help but notice something round and furry sticking out from her purse. Later, I’m talking with a coworker.)

Coworker: “Did you see that woman earlier who had her kid in fuzzy fetish handcuffs?”


Closing In On Copying

| Victoria, BC, Canada | Bad Behavior, Books & Reading, Time

(I am working the closing shift during the summer season when we are open quite late, and it is basically time to go home. The lights are all off, and mere seconds before the door is locked, a woman runs in. I approach her.)

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but the store is closing now.”

Customer: “Oh, that’s fine! Don’t worry, I know exactly what I’m looking for.”

(We are known for being very polite in this situation, and seeing as she seems to know where she is going I let her search. Sure enough, she comes up to the counter with a book about 20 seconds later, which is a pleasant surprise.)

Me: “Wow, that was quick! Okay, I just need to scan the book—”

Customer: “Hold on a second, I just need to take a look at something.”

(I sigh inwardly, but I know I like to give books a quick scan before I buy them, so I let her do it. My coworkers are a bit jumpy and want to go home, but we all remain silent. After about a minute, the woman pulls out a pad of paper and a pen and actually starts copying part of the book onto it.)

Me: “Umm… ma’am, perhaps you could do that after you’ve bought the book? it’s just that we’re past closing and we need to lock the door.”

Customer: “Oh, no, I’m not buying it. I just need to get this information. Just give me some time.”

Me: *shocked* “I’m so sorry, but I can’t let you do that. I might suggest going to the library for this book as you can take it out for free. If you do need to come back tomorrow, we are open at nine, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave so we can lock the door.”

(The customer sighed sharply, jammed her paper and pen into her purse, and stomped out. I have no idea if she came back for her all-important information.)


You Won’t Believe This Story

| Toronto, ON, Canada | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(It is the early 1990s, before online shopping has become the norm. The customer appears to be a student, maybe in her early twenties. She’s standing at the information desk at the front of what’s literally one of the world’s largest bookstores: 100,000 titles and counting.

Customer: “Uh, hi… I’m looking for a book?”

Me: *grinning appreciatively at what I think MUST be a little joke* “Great! What did you have in mind?”

Customer: “Uh… I dunno… Just something to read.”

Me: *notices she’s not smiling* “Oh, okay. So what subject were you thinking of?”

Customer: *shrugs, turns to boyfriend, who mutters something unintelligible, turns back* “Well, you know, a good story. You know, like my grandma reads.”

Me: *noticing a line forming behind her* “Right-oh! Fiction! So, let’s see…” *all while anxiously scanning her face for a reaction* “These are our bestsellers over here…” *blank face* “We have romance, horror, sci-fi, comedy…” *blank face* “…uh, Canadiana, historical…” *even blanker face*

Customer: “I dunno, just a good story. I’m going on a trip and I need something to read.” *starting to look really annoyed* “Can’t you just recommend something?”

Me: *gushing a little with relief* “Not from here, but I know who can.” *picks up pager* Fiction staff to the front desk, please…”

(Later I ask the poor Fiction staffer who rescued me how it went.)

Fiction Staffer: “I dunno. Every book I showed her, she just shook her head and said she wanted a ‘good’ story…”


Taking The Call Is Not Their Calling

| Vancouver, BC, Canada | Bizarre

(I work at a popular chain bookstore at Christmas time. I am calling one of the sister stores to see if they have a book a customer is looking for. The phone is ringing for a long time when…)

Caller: “Hello?”

Me: *taken a little aback by them not answering with “[Store] at [Location]. [Name] speaking. How may I help you?”* “Umm… Is this [Store] in [Location]?”

Caller: “Yeah, but I don’t work here. I was just shopping and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing and it was annoying me.”

Me: “Oh! Um… could you… pass the phone to an employee?”

Caller: “Yeah, I guess so.”

(I stayed on the line for three more minutes. He never gave it to an employee.)


Objectionable And Uninterruptable

| Manhattan, NY, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests, Criminal & Illegal, Popular

(An irate customer has found a book she objects to and is complaining to the cashier. Another customer in a suit and tie is quietly browsing books in the back.)

Irate Customer: “Hey. Hey. Hey, you. Why do you stock this filth?”

Cashier: “I, uh…”

Irate Customer: “No. Listen to me. Get rid of this. It’s wrong. Okay? It’s wrong.”

Cashier: “We just have what people want to–”

Irate Customer: “NO. It’s your job to be a gatekeeper. You protect your customers. Take this off your shelves.”

Cashier: “I don’t choose what to stock. I–”

Irate Customer: “Fine. Manager. Where’s the manager?”

Cashier: “Wait, he’s—”

(The irate customer has already sighted the suited customer and zeroed in on him.)

Irate Customer: “Hey. Hey, you. You can’t have this in your bookstore.”

Suited Customer: “I don’t–”

Irate Customer: “Yes. Yes, you do. It’s right here.”

Suited Customer: “But I’m–”

Irate Customer: “You’ve also got [list of other objectionable books]. You have a duty.”

Suited Customer: “But I–”

Irate Customer: “Don’t give me that free speech garbage. You have a duty. A moral duty. Above the law.”

(As the angry customer keeps ranting, the suited customer wordlessly takes something out of his pocket and shows her. She lets out an ‘Oh!’ and hurries out of the store.)

Cashier: “What was that?”

Suited Customer: “FBI badge. Just in time for ‘above the law,’ too.”

Cashier: “Uh, she didn’t pay for her copy of [Objectionable Book].”

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