Smells Like Teen Illiteracy

| Medford, MA, USA | Musical Mayhem

Customer: “Do you have anything from Nirvana?”

Me: “Sure, right this way. Here is a book about Kurt Kobain, and over here is a copy of his diary.”

Customer: “No, the music.”

Me: “Oh, did you want the book about the band and the grunge scene?”

Customer: “No, the music.”

(The customer holds up his hands to his ears, miming headphones.)

Me: “I’m sorry, are you looking for the music on CD?”

Customer: “Yeah, a CD.”

Me: “Oh, sorry. We don’t sell that here. Maybe you could try the music store on the other side of the mall?”

Customer: “What? You’re out of the CD?”

Me: “No, we don’t sell CDs at all. Just the—”

Customer: “Why the h*** not?”

Me: “Ah, because this is a bookstore?”

Customer: *looks up and around for the first time* “Huh! What a stupid store!” *walks out*

History Needs Repeating

| TN, USA | History

(A customer calls, asking if we have ‘War and Peace’.)

Me: “No, we do not.”

Caller: “I want you to tell me all the titles of the books you have.”

Me: “We have over 100,000 books.”

Caller: “What types of book?”

Me: “Fiction, mystery, how-to, true crime, western, history.”

Caller: “What is history?”

Me: “Like the Civil War.”

Caller: “You mean War and Peace?”

Me: “No, like World War 2.”

Caller: “There was more than one?”

Marriage Has Grey Areas

| London, England, UK | Rude & Risque, Spouses & Partners

(I’m at a bookstore, witnessing an exchange taking place between an employee and a middle-aged male customer.)

Customer: “Excuse me, do you know where your copies of 50 Shades of Grey are?”

Employee: “Sure, they’re over there.”

(The customer walks over to the indicated shelf and picks up a copy.)

Customer: “Right, anniversary present… sorted!”

Top Shelf Morals, Bottom Shelf Attitude

| Medford, MA, USA | Awesome Customers, Rude & Risque, Underaged

(I am stocking magazines at a bookstore when two young boys reach high up on the shelves and grab adult magazines. They hunch over and open the magazines to gawk at the photos.)

Me: “Excuse me, are you guys 18 or over?”

Boy #1: “Why, what’s it to you?”

Me: “It’s my job, actually. If you’re not 18, you can’t even touch those. Would you put that magazine back, please?”

Boy #2: “I’m 18.”

(Boy #2 is obviously about 12 or 13 from his height and appearance.)

Me: “Really? What year were you born?”

Boy #2: “None of your business!”

Me: “Okay, both of you put those magazines back, right now.”

Boy #1: “I’m 18, too.”

(Just then, a young mother carrying a baby and a diaper bag approaches the counter a few feet away.)

Young Mother: *to cashier* “Can I ask you for a certain book?”

Cashier: “Sure, what are you looking for?”

Young Mother: “It’s called ‘How to Raise a Moral Child‘.”

(Boy #1 and Boy #2 burst out laughing, catching the attention of the young mother, who looks over disapprovingly. The boys laugh and turn away from her, now facing me.)

Me: *arms crossed, leaning in* “How about now?”

(They stop laughing abruptly, put the magazines back on the nearest shelf, and slink out.)

Admitting Defeat Was An Easy Thing Touché

| Boston, MA, USA | Awesome Workers, Criminal & Illegal, Top, Wild & Unruly

(The owner of the bookstore where I work is very old and walks with a cane. Despite this, he always wanders the shelves and helps out patrons. Behind the counter, in a glass case, he keeps an assortment of trophies and medals he won in his youth. One night, someone decides to try to steal them.)

Owner: “I’m sorry, but you can’t be behind the counter.”

Robber: *smashing the glass* “F*** you, old man! Just stay away and don’t do anything stupid!”

(The robber sweeps the medals into his backpack and then tries to open the till.)

Owner: “Stop that, young man! You’re making a terrible mistake!”

Robber: *waves a large knife* “Yeah, well so are you! Back off! How do you open this f***ing thing?””

Owner: “Take a look at all those medals.”

Robber: “What? Just open the f***ing cash register!”

Owner: *very calmly* “Just take a look.”

Robber: *confused* “Uh, okay. Yeah, they’re gold. That’s why I took them, you a**hole. Gold fencing, gold fencing, silver fencing…”

(The owner gracefully draws the sword from his sword-cane.)

Robber: “Oh, please! Try that stuff in a real fight and you’ll just get kill—”

(With a flick of his weapon, the owner removes the robber’s glasses.)

Robber: *drops the knife* “Don’t hurt me!” *drops to his knees*

(I had called the police as soon as the knife came out. They arrive and identify the robber as a serial burglar who had stabbed a previous victim. Years later, at the owner’s retirement party, he recounts the story.)

Owner: “You know, hearing that story makes me think of two things. One, I wish a fencing judge had been there so I could have gotten the gold for that bout, and two, I missed the only time in my life when I could have asked someone if they called that a knife.”

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