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Not Quite Married To The Reading Material

| Boston, MA, USA | Bizarre, Family & Kids

(I’m a female bookstore employee in my mid 20s. While walking through the store, a customer approaches me and asks for help finding a book for her 15-year-old son. After discussing a couple titles, I am able to recommend a book for her. Afterwards, she tries to strike up a conversation…)

Customer: “You know, I just don’t understand why he doesn’t read anymore. He used to love to read, now he says he hates it.”

Me: “Well, you know, when I was about that age, I stopped enjoying reading so much because I didn’t like the assigned reading. I didn’t like being told what to read. Maybe that’s what he thinks, too?”

Customer: “Oh, I see… and are you still like that? Do you still have that independent streak?”

Me: “Uh… well… Now that I work in a bookstore, I can—”

Customer: “No, I mean in your personal life.”

Me: *stammering* “Um… I guess? Sort of?”

Customer: “Oh, dear, no. That’s not good marriage material. You can’t be like that, you know…” *winks and nudges me, chuckling*

Me: *stunned, muttering* “Well, good thing that’s not in my life plan to begin with… Enjoy your book!”

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A Used-less Philosophy

| Waltham, MA, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(I work in a used book store.)

Customer: “Do you have new books?”

Me: “Well, we sell mostly used books, but we have a small selection of new books here.”

Customer: “I always forget this is a used book store. I NEVER read a book someone else has read. I was a librarian and I wouldn’t even let my children check out books.”

Me: “…”

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Reaching The Upper Limits Of Their Understanding

| Surrey, England, UK | Extra Stupid

(I am busy working on the upper floor of a large bookshop when a customer gets my attention. Importantly, the only entrance/exit to this store is on the ground floor.)

Me: “Are you okay there, sir?”

Customer: “Is this the only floor?”

Me: “No, sir, this is the upper floor. There is another floor down the stairs you just came up.”

Customer: “So, this is the only floor?”

(Pause.)

Me: “Sir, there are two floors to this store. This is the upper floor. You must have walked through the ground floor to get here.”

Customer: “So, it’s just this?”

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Should Steal A Nugget Of Parental Advice

| TX, USA | Criminal & Illegal, Family & Kids, Popular

(The EAS alarm goes off as a young girl of around 12-13 and her mother are leaving. They both have purses and the mother also has a store bag.)

Me: “I can deactivate that bag and receipt for you.”

Mother: “Sure, thank you.”

(I run it over our sensor, and as they leave, the alarm goes off again. I call them back into the store.)

Me: “Do you have any new clothes or purses on? Sometimes there can be a sensor in the seam they forget to deactivate.”

Mother: “No. It might be my daughter’s keys.”

Me: *not even gonna ask* “Okay.” *to the kid* “If you can open up your purse, I can deactivate it for you.”

(The kid goes back through the sensors with haste and the alarm goes off again. The mother makes her open her purse, and there are some unpaid-for stuffed dolls inside. I take them back as the mother apologizes profusely.)

Me: “No harm done. It happens a lot.”

Mother: *as she’s leaving with her daughter* “You can’t steal! That’s not okay! That was not expensive enough to try to get away with it!”

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This Puzzle Is A Matter Of Life Or Death

| Austria | Books & Reading, Language & Words, Popular

(We have a fairly large Japanese community near the bookstore I’m working at, so we stock a sizeable collection of Japanese books. They usually speak German very well; still, a coworker has taken it upon himself to learn Japanese — with little success, it seems, because the Japanese who frequent our store try to keep their distance from him. I am approached by a regular, an elderly Japanese gentleman, a very quiet, unassuming man who, as usual, pointedly avoids my coworker. He approaches me and is, even for his standards, unusually quiet for a long while, waits until nobody is nearby and asks in a small voice:)

Customer: “Excuse me; do you carry books on Seppuku? How to do it right?”

(For those that don’t know the term, Seppuku is ritual suicide. It is quite hard for me to not show my shock about this request, not only that he would consider something like this but also because he would simply and bluntly ask for books on it. On one hand I didn’t want him to do something like this, on the other hand I knew that if I said no he would just find another source. So I tried to find out why while slowly walking him over to the Japanese section of our book store that deals with self help, depression, and the like.)

Me: “If I may ask, I wish to find the perfect book for you; maybe you could tell me what part you need to find perfection for?”

Customer: *again, looking around, then quietly, almost ashamed* “I tried many times, but I just cannot finish. In the end, it never works out.”

Me: “I… maybe if you could tell me the motivation behind it?”

Customer: “Oh, it is the right thing to do at my age! Doctors in Japan agree! It is a Japanese invention, and it keeps you mentally fit! You should try too, you are not too young to do Seppu…” *he stops and I can literally see his face turn to one of realization and horror for the briefest of moments before he regains his perfect composure and seamlessly continues*  “…Sudokus yourself.”

(I pause for a moment and then nod in agreement while ever so slightly redirecting our steps towards books for his (far more agreeable!) actual subject.)

Me: “Sudokus are very popular here too. I agree; I should take your advice and try them myself.”

(I thought I managed to put up the perfect display of ignorance until, at the end of the transaction, he indicates my Japanese speaking coworker, saying with a very small but meaningful smile:)

Customer: “This is the difference, you see: He tries to speak Japanese. But you, you try to understand the Japanese!”

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