They Undertook The Precept To Refrain From Incorrect Speech

, , , , , | Hopeless | July 28, 2018

(I work in an alternative book store at the end of a long strip mall. There’s actually another book store five doors down, but they are a Christian bookstore so we don’t have much to compete over. Occasionally we get customers from the other store walking in because they were not paying attention and get confused — or offended — by our products. The store is heavily decorated with draped fabric making it kind of dark inside. One day I see a car pull up front and drop off a cute little old lady, complete with short, curly, white hair and a pink pantsuit. The car immediately drives off as soon as she closes the door, and she wanders into our store while looking through her purse.)

Lady: *still looking in her purse* “Hello, dearie, can you help me return this book? It doesn’t have the right plants. My, it is dark in here! You should tell your manager to fix those lights; it’s not good for your eyes to be in the dark all the time!”

(She pulls out a book about “gardening with the Lord” and sets the book, with a receipt, on the counter. I can also see a gold cross on her necklace.)

Me: “I am sorry, ma’am, but I believe you are actually looking for [Christian Store] a few doors down.”

Lady: “Oh? Am I in the wrong store again?”

(She takes a moment to pull a pair of glasses out of her purse and puts them on before looking around.)

Lady: “Oh! You’re right; this isn’t [Christian Store]! No wonder it’s so dark in here; what an interesting place! What is this store?”

Me: “This is [Alternative Bookstore], ma’am. We specialize in books, supplies, and some knick-knacks, for a variety of religions and spiritualists.”

Lady: “Do you sell books on witchcraft?!”

(As she says this, she looks shocked and holds her hand up to her little gold cross. I brace for the usual shouting as I reply:)

Me: “Yes, ma’am. We do sell books about Wicca, along with books on a wide variety of religions, such as Buddhism and Asatru.”

(For a moment she just stares at me like I slapped her, and very slowly turns around again to look at the store. She is quiet for so long that I begin to worry about her health. Then she turns back to me, all smiles, as if nothing is wrong.)

Lady: “I’ve always wondered what people meant by those words. What is ‘Wicca’? Or that ‘bood-ish’ thing you said? Oh, can you show me any books on gardening?!”

(She was perfectly cheerful, and wandered all over the store asking a thousand questions about everything she could. Since we were slow, I was happy to talk with her and even helped her find a book on planting healing herbs. She kept looking at everything with an expression of amazement I usually only see on children. I checked her out once she decided she had had enough looking around, and we chatted for a few minutes. Apparently the car that had dropped her off belonged to her granddaughter, who dropped her off at the mall once a week, as she couldn’t drive herself, so that she could spend time in the Christian bookstore down the way. And, as her family was all very religious, she had no idea there were so many different beliefs out in the world. She left, happy, and has become my favorite regular, visiting the store every other week, and is still perfectly happy with her beliefs, but loves to talk with me about absolutely everything.)

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