The Book Thief

, , , , | Right | March 31, 2020

(While browsing at a bookstore, I am vaguely aware of a man at the other end of the aisle of shelves. A bookstore employee passes the aisle and pauses on my end.)

Employee: “You need to put those books back on the shelf right now.”

(I stare at her, but as she sounds deadly serious, I begin to put the book I am looking at back on the shelf. Then, I notice she is looking past me at the other customer.)

Employee: “Sir, you need to put those books back. This minute.”

(Her voice is IRON. The man pauses and then pulls a paperback out of his shirt and sheepishly sets it back on the shelf.)

Employee: All of them.”

(Two more paperbacks are pulled out of the man’s shirt and reshelved. The man goes past sheepish into anxious, as the employee is glaring murderously at him.)

Man: “I’m really sorry.”

Employee: “Not as sorry as I’m going to be marking those books as damaged returns. Leave the store.”

Man: “But I was going to—”

Employee: “Leave now, and I will not tell my manager that I watched you jam three books under your shirt.”

(The man almost runs toward the exit. The employee watches until he is gone, sighs, and refocuses on me.)

Employee: “Can I help you find anything?”

Me: “Your iron will?”

Employee: “I was a librarian for five years. He’s lucky I didn’t peer over my glasses at him; he would have melted.”

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