Book Driving To A Good Place… Eventually

, , , , , | Hopeless | August 17, 2018

Me: “And would you like to purchase a book to donate to our holiday book drive?”

Customer #1: “Who’s getting them?”

Me: “The heart unit of [Local Children’s Hospital].”

Customer #1: “Oh, no, thanks. I mean, if it were [Cancer], I’d donate, but not just for that.”

Me: “Um… Okay. Have a nice day!”

([Customer #2] comes up.)

Me: “And would you like to–”

Customer #2: “GOD, NO! I just want to buy my stuff and get out of here, and not have you people trying to swindle me!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I am required to ask these questions, and the books are going to the [Children’s Hospital]…”

Customer #2: “Not my problem. Just give me my receipt.”

Me: “Here you are. Have a nice day.”

Customer #2: “Shut up.”

(I just kind of stand there in shock for a minute until my next customer comes up. They have a basket full of books, and two giant deluxe-edition board games. I start ringing them up.)

Me: *kind of anxiously* “And would you be interested in donating?”

Customer #3: “Absolutely. I’d like to donate these books, and if you’d like to pick out five or six more from the display behind you, since I don’t really know what the kids are reading these days?”

Me: “Thank you; that’s very generous!”

Customer #3: “I heard those other two. Who thinks like that at Christmas? I want to donate these games, too, if you’re allowed to take them.”

Me: “That shouldn’t be a problem. Again, thank you!”

(Years later, I still remember that customer. Thank you for being the anti-Grinch!)

Some Employees Have Faded Away

, , , , , | Working | August 16, 2018

(I receive a book for my birthday, and I’m really excited to read it, so I start right away. Unfortunately, about halfway through, I discover that something must have gone wrong with the printing press, as the ink starts to fade until it’s completely unreadable, and the last three quarters of the book are blank. Since it was purchased from a major chain bookshop, I take the book and my gift receipt to the closest location. I wait in line, and when it’s my turn, I am waited on by a man whose name tag indicates he’s a manager.)

Me: “I’d like to exchange this book, please. This one is defective, and I’d like to be able to finish reading it.”

Manager: *annoyed* “I can’t give you cash, only store credit.”

Me: “I don’t want a refund; I want to exchange the book so I can finish reading it.”

(He gives me a blank stare, so I open it and show him where the ink starts to fade out.)

Me: “See? I can’t read the last half of the book. I want to exchange it for a copy that isn’t like this.”

Manager: *still staring like he doesn’t believe me* “I can check and see if we have it in stock.”

Me: “Great, thank you.”

(He stands there staring at me for another moment like he thinks I’m going to change my mind. Finally, he radios someone and they bring the book up to the front. In the meantime, no other customers have come up, but he spends the whole time looking for someone else to wait on. When the other employee arrives with the new copy, the whole exchange process takes less than two minutes, since I have the defective copy and a gift receipt. The manager still seems extremely annoyed, and the employee looks just as confused as I am. She looks at the defective copy while the manager processes the exchange.)

Employee: “Oh, yeah, that’s terrible. You can’t possibly read this. We’ll have to damage it out.”

Manager: *sliding the new book across the counter at me so fast I barely catch it before it falls off* “There.”

(I open the book and flip through it really quickly to make sure it isn’t defective, too, and he looks offended.)

Me: *smiling as politely as I can* “Much better! Thank you so much.”

(The employee smiled and wished me happy reading, but the manager continued to look offended and stared at me all the way out the door. I still have no idea why he was so annoyed and confused about me wanting a copy of the same book that was actually readable.)

Maybe We Could Meat In The Middle?

, , , | Right | August 6, 2018

(I work for a bookstore, and for the holiday season we do a book drive where customers can buy a book and we will send it to the organization we are working with. This year it is our local Ronald McDonald house charities. The conversation starts as most, and we come to the part where I ask for the donation:)

Me: “Would you like to buy a children’s book for a donation to the Ronald McDonald house, for kids who are in the hospital this holiday?”

Customer: “No, I’m a vegetarian.”

Me: “Ma’am, this is for kids in the hospital.”

Customer: “I already told you no; I’m a vegetarian.”

(I gave up, finished her transaction, and she left the store.)

Pay It Forward Never Needs To Go On Sale

, , , , , , | Hopeless | August 1, 2018

(This happens over 25 years ago, when I am just a little girl, probably about seven or eight. I am a big bookworm, and always get a certificate to our local bookstore for birthdays and other occasions. These are always special occasions for me, because as a single mom, my mother doesn’t have much money to spare, even working double shifts more often than not. I am at the till by myself while my mom browses, with three books I’m going to buy with my gift certificate. In line behind me is a guy probably about ten years older than me. I am leery of him for no particular reason other than that he is a “big kid” and I am shy and reserved.)

Cashier: “That will be [amount a lot more than my certificate has].”

Me: “Oh… I don’t have that much. I thought these were on sale.”

(I point to a big sign, no more than a few feet away in front of a shelf.)

Cashier: *dismissively* “It’s an old sign. I haven’t gotten around to taking it down.”

(I’m too awkward and anxious to do anything other than try to pick which books I’m putting back, feeling flustered and embarrassed.)

Cashier: *impatiently* “Just go find your mom and get her to pay the difference!”

Me: “She can’t! This is all I can have!”

(I’m feeling very embarrassed now, because how little money my mother and I have has always been a sore spot and something I feel ashamed of. Suddenly the teen leans past me, holding out some money.)

Teen: “Hey, I’ll pay for it. Don’t worry about it. Kids should be reading more, anyway. Oh, and let me get that for you.”

(He makes a show out of plucking the little plastic sale sign off the shelf and handing it to the cashier with a smile.)

Teen: “No more misunderstandings. Right?”

(Looking annoyed and embarrassed, the cashier rang me up. I thanked the teen profusely; he just waved me off with a smile and told me to pay it forward one day. Looking back, it might have been a small gesture, but it meant a lot to me to have a complete stranger have my back like that and show me a token of kindness. Ever since then, decades later, I have tried to do the same when I’m able and the opportunity arises — be it for groceries or whatever — because I remember how that felt, and I hope it makes other people feel and do the same. It may seem minor, but minor kindnesses add up, and hopefully lead to others like them.)

They Undertook The Precept To Refrain From Incorrect Speech

, , , , , | Hopeless | July 28, 2018

(I work in an alternative book store at the end of a long strip mall. There’s actually another book store five doors down, but they are a Christian bookstore so we don’t have much to compete over. Occasionally we get customers from the other store walking in because they were not paying attention and get confused — or offended — by our products. The store is heavily decorated with draped fabric making it kind of dark inside. One day I see a car pull up front and drop off a cute little old lady, complete with short, curly, white hair and a pink pantsuit. The car immediately drives off as soon as she closes the door, and she wanders into our store while looking through her purse.)

Lady: *still looking in her purse* “Hello, dearie, can you help me return this book? It doesn’t have the right plants. My, it is dark in here! You should tell your manager to fix those lights; it’s not good for your eyes to be in the dark all the time!”

(She pulls out a book about “gardening with the Lord” and sets the book, with a receipt, on the counter. I can also see a gold cross on her necklace.)

Me: “I am sorry, ma’am, but I believe you are actually looking for [Christian Store] a few doors down.”

Lady: “Oh? Am I in the wrong store again?”

(She takes a moment to pull a pair of glasses out of her purse and puts them on before looking around.)

Lady: “Oh! You’re right; this isn’t [Christian Store]! No wonder it’s so dark in here; what an interesting place! What is this store?”

Me: “This is [Alternative Bookstore], ma’am. We specialize in books, supplies, and some knick-knacks, for a variety of religions and spiritualists.”

Lady: “Do you sell books on witchcraft?!”

(As she says this, she looks shocked and holds her hand up to her little gold cross. I brace for the usual shouting as I reply:)

Me: “Yes, ma’am. We do sell books about Wicca, along with books on a wide variety of religions, such as Buddhism and Asatru.”

(For a moment she just stares at me like I slapped her, and very slowly turns around again to look at the store. She is quiet for so long that I begin to worry about her health. Then she turns back to me, all smiles, as if nothing is wrong.)

Lady: “I’ve always wondered what people meant by those words. What is ‘Wicca’? Or that ‘bood-ish’ thing you said? Oh, can you show me any books on gardening?!”

(She was perfectly cheerful, and wandered all over the store asking a thousand questions about everything she could. Since we were slow, I was happy to talk with her and even helped her find a book on planting healing herbs. She kept looking at everything with an expression of amazement I usually only see on children. I checked her out once she decided she had had enough looking around, and we chatted for a few minutes. Apparently the car that had dropped her off belonged to her granddaughter, who dropped her off at the mall once a week, as she couldn’t drive herself, so that she could spend time in the Christian bookstore down the way. And, as her family was all very religious, she had no idea there were so many different beliefs out in the world. She left, happy, and has become my favorite regular, visiting the store every other week, and is still perfectly happy with her beliefs, but loves to talk with me about absolutely everything.)

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