So Much For Out-Of-The-Books Thinking

| Flint, MI, USA | Working | December 14, 2012

(It’s the holidays, and I have a seasonal job as a cashier at a large, national bookstore. To reiterate, I am a cashier, which means I am stationed at the cash register. There are floor associates, who walk the floor and help customers find items. The following happens while I’m off the clock on my lunch break.)

Customer: “Excuse me, do you work here?”

Me: “Yes, I do.”

Customer: “Great, I was just hoping you could point me in the right direction. I’m looking for Monty Python’s Best of John Cleese.”

(Note: This would have cost her about $15. I’m also a HUGE fan of Python and British comedy in general.)

Me: “Ah, I’m sorry! We actually just sold that earlier today. If you’d like, [coworker] can order that for you and we can have it in about two weeks.”

Customer: “Oh. I really wanted to give it to my boyfriend for his birthday tonight. Do you have any suggestions?”

Me: “Yes, actually! BBC has just released a box set that contains all of the Python episodes plus tons of bonus materials. We also have this 365 Days of Python tear-away calendar.”

(The customer buys the box set ($200), the calendar ($20), and a compilation of best British stand up ($20). So, she ends up spending about $240 when she’d planned to spend only $15. However, my manager grabs me on my way back to the break room.)

Manager: “What are you doing?! You are a cashier. There are people here whose job is to talk to the customers. Go do your job!”

Me: “Um, I just talked a customer into spending FIFTEEN TIMES the amount of money she’d intended to. And you’re upset about this sale?”

Manager: “It’s not your job!”

Me: “Serving customers is not my job in this customer service position? Really?”


Me: “I’M OFF THE CLOCK! And you’re welcome for the TWO HUNDRED FORTY DOLLAR SALE that [coworker] wouldn’t have been able to make because he doesn’t know the genre.”

(Needless to say, my seasonal job did not turn into a long-term position. This large, national bookstore chain collapsed under bankruptcy and closed last year. I was neither sad nor surprised. At my current job, if an employee makes a $200+ sale, we get a certificate of recognition and a 40% discount on an entire purchase!)

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Marriage Has Grey Areas

| London, England, UK | Right | December 12, 2012

(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!”

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Top Shelf Morals, Bottom Shelf Attitude

| Medford, MA, USA | Right | December 9, 2012

(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.)

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Brace Yourself

| USA | Romantic | December 5, 2012

(I own and run the bookshop, and my friend is visiting me. My friend is female, fairly short and very thin. She has to wear a very noticeable hinged brace on her knee due to a childhood sports injury, but she is by no means helpless. I am male, a foot and a half taller than my friend, and in very good physical condition. I am is also well trained in hand-to-hand combat. A customer is in the shop, and approaches my friend, who is trying to find a book on the shelves.)

Customer: *approaches and shoves her* “Move, b****.”

Friend: “Hey! What’s your problem, man?”

Customer: “I needed to check this shelf for the book I needed and you were in the way.”

Friend: “And you couldn’t just politely ask me to move?”

Customer: “You don’t have to be nice to whores.”

Friend: “Excuse me?!”

Customer: “Well, that’s the only reason a woman would need a brace like that, if you were on your knees all the time. Only w****s are on their knees all the time.”

Friend: *trying not to lose her temper* “You do realize, don’t you, that there are a multitude of injuries that would establish a need for this sort of brace?”

Customer: “How dare you talk back to me, you fat b****!” *tries to slap her*

Me: *sneaking up on him and grabbing his wrist* “Not to be clichéd, but you owe her an apology.”

Customer: “No, I don’t! Why the h*** would I have to apologize?”

Me: “First, for shoving her. You had no business putting your hands on her. Second, for calling her a whore. You were being extremely disrespectful, and that’s something I don’t tolerate from my customers. Third, I’d bet your leg alone weighs more than she does. Again, you were being rude.”

(He takes a swing at me.)

Me: *puts him in a headlock* “Sir, you have two options. Both of them involve leaving, but whether you leave vertically or horizontally is up to you.”

Customer: “F*** you! You can’t do s*** to me!”

(I escort him, still in the headlock, to the front of the store and out the door.)

Me: “You are not welcome here. Don’t ever come back.”

(My friend and I started dating not long after that, and I’m asking her to marry me tonight.)

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Admitting Defeat Was An Easy Thing Touché

| Boston, MA, USA | Right | November 29, 2012

(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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