Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bookshop baloney

This Christmas seems particularly GRRsome to me. Not sure why, perhaps it always does. At work on Saturday my irritation felt like a nagging toothache. I don't think it showed though - at least, not to the customers. 

I work on the first floor and am often puzzled by how many people are surprised to hear the book they want is on a different floor above.
"You have another floor?"
"Yes, we have five floors in all."
"That's ridiculous!"
Ridiculous? Really? 
"On the next floor?"
"How do I get there?"
"We have stairs," I gesture with a sweep of my arm. "Or a lift just here."
"For god's sakes."

So many people so cross that there are more floors. The coffee shop on the third floor? Tsk. Reference on fourth? Tut. How do they cope in department stores?

Then there are the people who ask "Where can I find so and so?" I look it up on the computer and confirm that we have a copy, or several.
"On the next floor up, on the left. You can ask the assistant at the counter and they will show you."
"Right. Thanks."
And I watch them head down the stairs and out of the shop.

A man handed his book to me to scan and it set off our alarm. Deactivating the tag requires me to rub the book over the desktop where the machine beneath does its duty. 
"Don't rub my book."
"I'm sorry ..."
I sympathised, I like my books pristine too. The book doesn't get damaged though. He paid the £9.99 with a £10 Waterstone's gift card. I told him he had one penny left on the card and handed it to him.
"Where's my penny?"
I repeated that it was on his card.
"Don't you dare try to cheat me out of my penny. I know my rights. Where's my one pence? I DEMAND my money."

A regular customer comes in. I haven't seen him for a while. He travels for over an hour on the bus to visit us but he's ill, and his illness has worsened. He's not sure he'll be able to keep  coming. Then another man tells me about the disease that is killing him. 

My colleague took a phone call from a woman wanting a poetry book that she thought might have a blue cover. Yup, that's totally not a bookshop myth, it's a thing that happens regularly.

A guy asked me for a Kindle Voucher. Erm… nope, not gone be selling one of them.
"That's like asking for a Starbucks Gingerbread Latte in a Costa Coffee," said another customer. 


dan powell said...

Love these posts of yours. As I have most likely said before, remind me of my days behind the counter at Blockbusters, although we didn't have the floors issue to contend with. People are strange.

Group 8 said...

I do love these posts, Sara. I am nodding in agreement, as a former bookseller.

Btw, that poetry book with the blue cover? Get that woman back on the phone - she wants my latest ;)

Jenny Beattie said...

OMG, you so would hate me as a customer. I used to go into Waterstones when I lived in the UK and say "Oh I heard a conversation about a book on Radio 4. It's about Darwin's ship but I didn't catch the title and I've forgotten the author..." and then I'd look hopefully at the member of staff and 99% of the time they'd get it and I'd feel all warm that Waterstones' employees know their books.

I am so sorry to be such a pain.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Dan :) And I agree - people *are* strange.

Nuala - Damn it!

Jenny - You're the sort of customer we love! It's very satisfying to be able to identify what book the customer is after - like solving a mini mystery. You give plenty of information in your example. I promise you're not a pain! It's the people who say "I saw a book about 6 weeks ago in Malta, it had a green cover. What was it?" who are expecting the impossible.

Jenny Beattie said...

Oh phew because I've been worrying about it.

Unknown said...

Oh Jenny, you're far too lovely (and diplomatic - I *know* this!) to ever have irritated anyone.

Rachel Fenton said...

This post is the blog equivalent of Christmas!

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

How do you stand it? It's the equivalent of serving ice cream to six year olds who can't choose which colour! I used to do that and it drove me insane.
Best of 2012 to you! Ciao cat

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