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.”

Needs A Stern Conversation With Her Son

| Medford, MA, USA | Family & Kids, Rude & Risque

(It is 1993. I am working the register when an elderly woman comes up to the counter.)

Customer: “Do you have that book, Body Parts?”

Me: “Hmm, I don’t know that one by name, but let’s see if we can find it. Who’s the author?”

Customer: “I don’t know. It’s that new story, Body PartsBody Parts.”

Me: “Hmm, okay, just give me one second to look it up so we can find it on the shelves. All our fiction is alphabetical by author.”

(I look it up in our primitive computer, and find an old book.)

Me: “Well, I don’t have that book here, but I can order it for you. It would take one to two weeks.”

Customer: “Why don’t you have it? My son says it’s a bestseller! You should have a lot of them! He saw it here and I want to get it for him for his birthday!”

Me: “Actually, it’s a few years old and we haven’t had it in the store for some time now. When’s his birthday? Maybe I can get it in time.”

Customer: “No, he saw it here yesterday! Body Parts! It’s a bestseller.”

Me: *flash of recognition* “Wait, a bestseller, right? Are you looking for Private Parts by Howard Stern?”

Customer: “That’s what I said! Private Parts! Private Parts!”

(The woman is now yelling the correct name of the book. Other customers turn to look and giggle.)

Me: “Of course, Private Parts. Sorry, I must have heard you wrong. Right this way.”

(I bring her to the best sellers rack and hand her a copy of the book. The cover has a photo of the disk jockey Howard Stern, naked, but holding a cloth over his private parts.)

Me: “Is this the book?”

Customer: *squints through her glasses at the book* “Oh! This is disgusting! Ugh! My no-good son’s gonna get it!”

(She drops the book on the floor and walks out in a huff.)

One Customer’s Bash Is Another Customer’s Pleasure

| Medford, MA, USA | Crazy Requests

Customer: “Do you have the new Oprah book?”

Me: “Probably… what’s it called?”

Customer: “The new Oprah book.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch Oprah. Do you know the title or author?”

Customer: “It’s the one on TV! You should know it!”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am. I work full-time and don’t get to see the show. Do you happen to know the name of the book?”

Customer: “It’s the one on TV! Oprah!”

Me: “Sorry, do you remember the author’s name? Did she do an interview?”

Customer: “Yes, that guy… oh, I remember!”

Me: “Great, what is the—”

Customer: “Blue!”

Me: “What?”

Customer: “The book is blue.”

Me: “Hmm… is it that blue one in best-sellers behind you there?”

Customer: “No, the one on TV! Why don’t you have it! Why don’t you know what I’m looking for?”

Me: “I work when that show is on, so I don’t really know what you’re looking for.”

Customer: “Ugh! Let me ask my friend.”

(She walks away and comes back ten minutes later with her friend. They each have a copy of ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’ by Deepak Chopra. The cover indeed does have a blue background.)

Me: “Ah ha! You found it! Great!”

Customer: *holding up the book* “It was on TV! You’re the worst employee ever! Why don’t you know what I saw on TV?”

Me: “I don’t know. Sorry. Let’s ring you up.”

(About 30 minutes later, another customer comes up to my register.)

Customer #2: “Do you have that book, um, ‘Strong Body, Strong Life’?”

Me: “Oh, Deepak Chopra? The blue one?” *I show her the now familiar ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’* “Is this what you are looking for? Did you see it on Oprah?”

Customer #2: “Wow, you’re the best employee in the world! How did you know what I was looking for?”

Me: “I don’t know. Let’s ring you up.”

Don’t Fold Under Pressure

| UK | At The Checkout, Bizarre

(I work in a local bookshop that was recently taken over by a large chain store. Because of this, the manager is often in the other shop down the road, as they trust me to be able to handle anything. This shop also sells items for gift wrapping.)

Customer: “I have looked everywhere for your christening gift wrap. I find it disgusting that you don’t carry any. Get me your manager.”

Me: “I apologise, but I’m currently the only worker in the store. I’m sure we carry gift wrap for christening. Have you checked down the isle to your left?”

(The customer angrily goes to look. She comes back with some gift wrap mumbling about how I should be fired for being alone.)

Customer: “This one says ‘new baby’. That’s basically the same thing as christening, right?”

Me: “Uh, sure. Would you like this rolled or folded?”

Customer: “Ugh. You and your questions. Just roll it!”

(I begin to roll it.)

Customer: “No, no! What are you doing?! Are you deaf? I said fold.”

Me: “…of course, ma’am. I apologise.” *begins to gently fold it*

Customer: “No, no! What are you doing?! Don’t fold it. You’ll crease the paper. Then what will the baby think?! Give it here, I’ll do it myself!”

Me: “I apologise for creasing the paper. Here you go…”

Customer: *aggressively folds the paper anyway and leaves*

Cult-ivating Ignorance

| Hilliard, OH, USA | Bigotry, Religion

(I managed a family-owned bookstore that caters to Mormons. We have people come in weekly to pick fights with us, and by this time I was use to being called about every name in the book.)

Customer: “You have a lot of pictures of Jesus in here. Is this a Christian book store?”

Me: “Yes, we cater to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Customer: “Church of Christ you say? Cool, okay.” *wanders off*

(About 10 minutes later he comes back, confused.)

Customer: “Why do you have the Book of Mormon in your store?”

Me: “It is one of our Holy books, along with the Bible.”

Customer: “Is this a Mormon store?”

Me: “Yes, the LDS Church is one of the branches of the Mormon religion.”

Customer: “Aren’t you a cult?”

Me: “No, were just another kind of Christian, like Catholics or Protestants but with our own beliefs that set us apart.”

Customer: “No, you are a cult.”

Me: “Cults generally follow one leader, and our leader is Jesus Christ. So, if you want to say following Jesus makes one in a cult then you may be right.”

Customer: “You follow Jesus, you say? Is this the Jesus you follow in the pictures on the wall?” *points to an image of Christ overlooking Jerusalem*

Me: “Yes.”

Customer: “Well, you are a cult then. That Jesus looks too perfect.”

Me: *confused* “We do believe that Jesus, as the Son of God, is perfectly perfect.”

Customer: “No, that’s a lie. Jesus can’t be perfect. Only God is perfect.”

Me: “Yes, and we believe that Jesus is God.”

Customer: “Wait, you worship Jesus?”

Me: “Um… yes.”

Customer:Real Christians don’t worship Jesus. You are a cult!” *storms out*

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