13 Conversations I Had As A Bookseller
1. Me: Hi, how may I help you?
The Customer: I’m looking for a book on war. The cover is red and the letters in the title are white.
Me: Um, there’s no search field in our data base for colors.
2. 9:00 am: the store opens
9:01 am: an outrageously incensed gentleman approaches the info desk, where I, of course, am on duty.
Customer: Last night I was reading a book, and I left it on that table over there. Now it’s gone. What happened to it?!
Me: Um, at night after we close we put all the books back on the shelves.
Me (silently): looking slowly around the store to convey the subtle message that we, in fact, keep all our books on shelves and not in piles on the furniture.
3. December, in the middle of the holiday shopping madness
A customer corners me in the back of the store where I am unsuccessfully trying to blend into the romance section.
Customer: Where is your luggage?
Me: (stunned into silence)
Me: Excuse me?
Customer: Your luggage. My son was just up at your other store, and he told me all about the great luggage he saw there.
Me: (struggling so hard to keep a straight face that I’m sure my eyeballs are going to pop right out of my head and drop onto the floor).
Me: (searching desperately for a tone that does not at all suggest that I am in any way mocking the customer).
Me: We don’t have any luggage.
4. Customer: I’m looking for a book. The author’s first name is John.
Me: I’m sorry, but there’s no way we can look up authors on the computer using only their first name.
Customer: (makes random noises of protest and disbelief.)
I enter “John” into the data base.
I turn the computer around to face the customer.
Me: OK, there are 485,972 possibilities that came up for “John”.
5. Customer: Hi, I’d like to check out.
Me: I’m sorry, but you can’t check out here.
Customer: Why not? The lines up there are S-O-O-O long.
Me: Well, because see how there are no actual CASH REGISTERS here? That’s because this is the INFORMATION DESK, not the checkout counter.
6. Customer: Hi. I found this book I was looking for, but I only want this one page. What do I do?
7. Customer: Um, I’m sitting over there in the cafe trying to study, but I can’t, because the people behind the counter are being REALLY loud.
Me: Well, this is a store, not a library, so there’s nothing I can do about it.
Customer: (stunned that I am not leaping into any kind of action that confirms that she is, in fact, the center of the Universe.)
Customer: Well, they’re being really loud.
The customer stomps off in indignation.
Me: (silently) Ooh, good comeback. You really told me!
8. Customer: Hi, I need a Bible. But I really need the easy version.
9. Me: I ring up a purchase.
Me: That will be $27.95.
The customer writes a check.
Me: May I please see your driver’s license?
Customer: Angrily. Why? Are you profiling?
Me: No, we’re just like every place else that needs to see some ID when you pay with a check.
Me: (What I wanted to say: Yes, we are profiling for short, bald, ugly, angry old men.)
10. A customer approaches the information desk, clearly trying to impress me with her important “business woman” persona.
Customer: I’m on my way to give a presentation, and I need this book.
We don’t have it.
I call all of our other stores.
They don’t have it either.
Me: I’m sorry, but none of our stores have this book in stock right now.
Customer: That is unacceptable.
Customer: Gives me her “intimidating” stare to try and spur me into some kind of action.
Me: I think to myself, “Lady, I make $6.00 an hour working at a bookstore. There’s nothing you can do to me.
I just smile back at her and wait her out.
Customer: Flounces off. I guess I’ll just have to go to [our competitor].
Me: Would you like me to call them for you?
11+. Customer: Where is your/Where are your…
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