Work Log


This is a record of the 10 most willfully ignorant customers I ever had. They are ranked from least ignorant to most ignorant. Also see the 10 worst customers, as ignorant customers are often not my worst customers since they're too oblivious to be an actual problem. Enjoy!



Today's "Worthless Bag of Human Flesh" award goes to this lady. She was not paying attention and having brain farts seriously about ten times over during the course of our interaction. And you, the lucky people, get to hear me tell you about ALL of her sins! Joy!

First off, she went to the register and expected customer service help. Not usually a huge sin or anything. But when the cashier called me to go to Customer Service, she misunderstood and stepped aside in the line and thought I was coming up to the cash register to meet her there and somehow assist her, even though I'd need the computer at the desk in order to assist her. So, the cashier, being extremely busy at that point, didn't seem to notice that she hadn't gone to meet me, and I of course went to the desk, didn't have anyone waiting for me, and ended up having to help someone on the phone. It turned out that the phone call brought me up near the register, where Crappy Lady noticed my name tag and realized that it matched the name that had been called to assist her. With that she began accosting me, trying to interrupt me while I was on the phone with my other customer, saying, "He paged you to help me, right??" and all this crap. After I finished helping the guy on the phone, I told her that I had been paged to the DESK, and that I had indeed gone to the desk and waited and no one had shown up. She was completely uncomprehending of this, and repeated to me that I had been called to help her. I figured it was useless to try and explain it again, because she had it in her tiny brain that I was wrong for not coming to her immediately when she'd just not understood that she was supposed to go to, ya know, the help booth. Oh well.

So. First question. "Do you have the new Harry Potter? Book 5?" ::sigh:: I told her that Harry Potter 5 won't be published until mid-June. "So you don't have it?" Bewildered look. Oh, God. "No, ma'am. No one has it. It hasn't been released yet. It won't be available until the summer." "OH. It's not OUT yet." She grilled me about what it will be called and how much it will be, and then she wanted two books that she'd written on a piece of paper. I couldn't resist throwing one more little shot when she did that: "I've got to look that up at my customer service computer. That's why he had me called to the DESK." She didn't understand. I didn't care.

We went to the desk and I typed up one of her book titles. It was a crockpot cookbook of some kind, and we were supposed to carry it. The other I just knew already because it's popular. So we went to the cooking section. The lady, with her now-familiar bewildered expression, uttered another of her famous ridiculous statements while reading the sign on the wall: "'Cooking & Health'? Oh, wow, I never would have found it over HERE." This was said in that weird tone of voice that people get when they (rightly) are surprised to find dream books in the New Age section or maybe pet books in the nature section. But . . . I just don't understand how it's surprising to find that a cookbook is shelved in the cooking section. Nope.

So we found her crockpot book, and then I found her other book, which was about food counts. At this point, for some ungodly reason, she took the book from me and began being vocally unsure of whether it was the same one written on her paper. I assured her that it was; for God's sake, I'm a bookstore worker, I don't normally look at people's wish lists and then give them some other book for the hell of it. Maybe she had very little confidence in my abilities to help her after the big flub where I had no idea I was supposed to come to the register to help her with customer service. (Duuhhhh!!) So she began comparing, word by word, the title of the book with the writing on her page! Aloud! "The . . . okay, the. Complete . . . complete. Book . . . book." Yes. Yes it is The Complete Book of Food Counts, dammit. It IS. And then she looked on her paper and informed me that the author was Netzer, which I knew, and she read the lady's name to me from her paper, looked at the book cover (where Netzer's name was emblazoned in large white letters on a blue background or something), and said, "Now do you see her name anywhere on here?"

I kind of incredulously pointed to her giant name, which was larger on the book cover than the title. She was satisfied by that, thanked me for my help, and took off for the register. There, the cashier sold her a discount card, and then she puzzled over whether she really did get her discount for about two minutes more, asking him for repeated clarifications of how it worked out. Grrrrrr.



So a youngish guy got in line with his wrapped porn mags, and then he ducked out of line to ask one of our male associates how old you have to be to purchase porn.

"You have to be eighteen," my co-worker said, and at that point the dude offered to give him the money if HE would go purchase the porn for him. Duh, well, he refused, at which point the porn dude tried to just stick the mags on the shelf in Fiction.

"NO, man, you can't just put those there," my co-worker admonished him, and the guy asked where he was supposed to put them. He said if he didn't want to take them all the way back to Magazines he guessed he could just take them to the register and throw them up there for us to put away.

"Will YOU do it for me?" the guy requested, and when he asked why, the dude elaborated, "Because I wanna hit on the girl!" Can't hit on the cute cashier with porn in your hand, after all! Poor underage future sex offender creep. . . . One almost feels sorry for him. Almost.



A lady came up to the register wanting to return a gift card. Yes, this is possible, but you have to wonder . . . now WHY would someone want to RETURN a gift card? Anyway, since I have to put a reason on the return form, I asked the lady why she was returning it. "Because it's black," she said. At my startled look, she explained that she just didn't like how ugly it was, and that if it wasn't black she'd have no problem but come on, she didn't want to give that to anyone! When I asked her why she'd bothered buying it and then bringing it back, she said that she'd been in too much of a rush at the time to notice how, well, black it was. Okay. Folks, I could understand returning something because it is of a color you don't much like. But a gift card? Something you don't even keep? Something that is just a token that allows you to get something you want? How does its color matter? I ASK YOU!! But no, this black gift card is just unacceptable, and she had to make a special trip to the bookstore to return the stupid thing. My God, I wish I had that kind of time.



Did you know that there's a book called FOURT by Harry Potter? Well, actually, there isn't, but there is according to a customer who came in looking for it today. I couldn't help it . . . when the guy asked me for books by Harry Potter, I said, "But he's fictional!" The guy didn't seem to understand. He said he wanted "Fourt," but I figured he wanted the fourth Harry Potter book and showed him Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He said it looked awfully big for an eight-year-old to read (which it is, but I've heard of eight-year-olds reading it!). At that point it seemed to me he thought I had the wrong book, and that because it was not "Fourt" and was so big, I was probably misinforming him. He was disturbed that it only came in hardcover and was so expensive, and proceeded to ask if he could use his gift certificates from another bookstore in our store. I then had to give him a detailed description of why, as a bookstore that is a different entity from the one he had gift certificates to, we could not give him store credit for their gift certificates. Finally, he asked me if looking up "Fourt" on would do him any good. I said no. He left.



Now this one's funny.

A lady came in looking for books on snakes. She claimed she'd already been to the other store and they didn't have any. That is a bit surprising. So I began to take her to the wildlife section, where we have several books on snakes and lots more on reptiles in general containing sections on snakes. But on the way there, she said, "Yeah, at that other store, they tried to send me to the ANIMAL section. Why would they do that? A snake isn't an animal." This kind of stopped me in my verbal tracks, but I managed to say, "Well, the animal section is where we're going in this store too. That's where the snake books go." Her response? "Well, explain this to me. How is a SNAKE an ANIMAL?"

This caused me to go into a scientific spiel about how anything in the "Animal" Kingdom is an animal, and snakes as well as bugs and pretty much anything that's not single-celled or plant life falls into that category. But she insisted that a snake was not an animal, but a REPTILE. I told her that reptiles are all animals, but she didn't seem to like that answer and was happy enough when I left her alone to browse.



Today a girl and her boyfriend asked for dictionaries. I pointed them to the aisle, and after a while of being in there they found me again, dictionary in hand, and asked me how to spell "ecstatic." I told them, and then the boyfriend started muttering, "I'm tellin' you, it ain't a real word." Turned out she was trying to prove to him that "ecstatic" WAS a word, and couldn't find it in the dictionary. I informed her that that might be because "ecstatic" is an adjective form of "ecstasy," and it might only be listed that way. The boyfriend started gloating when she was only able to find "ecstasy," saying "SEE, I TOLD you, if it was a real word it'd be in the dictionary now WOULDN'T IT??" but then I pointed out that "ecstatic" was listed at the end of the entry as an adjective form, just like I'd said, and the girl was like "Look, honey" but he was already TAKING OFF! He refused to look at it, walking away, chanting like a mantra, "It ain't a word, it ain't. . . . " She chased after him, going "LOOK! It's right here! LOOOOOK!"

I wonder sometimes if we are the same species.



So, today this weird dude wanted to buy an R. Kelly CD (which cost $19.98 plus tax) and when I told him the total he was like "What? All I got's a twenty!" After explaining to him that it was over twenty dollars because of tax, he went away, and was back shortly thereafter with ANOTHER CD . . . and this one cost $19.48. Okay, now if you were really ignorant or foreign or something I could see forgetting that tax existed the first time, but the second time it's just obliviousness I guess, 'cause he must've noticed there was over a dollar's worth of tax on the previous CD. Anyway. I told him that if he still only had a twenty this one would put him over too, and he complained and asked if there was anything he could get! I showed him some of the cheaper CDs and he finally got one, and then didn't understand why he couldn't use his Camelot $5-off coupon at our store! He didn't understand the concept of "THIS IS NOT CAMELOT!!!" Gahh!



Here is a customer interaction that resulted in self-inflicted bodily harm on my part.

An older man came up with a Wall Street Journal newspaper and said, "I got one of your discount cards." I said okay, but then what he took out of his wallet was a Winn-Dixie card, which in no way resembles ours. (Theirs is black, with a Winn-Dixie logo; ours is blue with a red stripe across the top.) I told him, "That's not our card, sir," and he responded, "Oh, then you don't need it? Fine then. . . . " And I just shrugged and rang up his paper, and then he goes, "How much money you want?" I told him a dollar, and he said, "No, but I had the discount card." I reminded him that it was not our card and told him that he had given me a Winn-Dixie card, to which he responded, "Well the other lady always gives me a discount!" I said, "You have to have OUR card for a discount, that was from WINN-DIXIE, if you have OUR card I can give you the discount," and he just goes, "Well it's always something, isn't it?" Then he shook his head, disgusted at my incompetence, and paid me and left.

I banged my head on the counter six times after he left.

It hurt.



This dude came up and started describing to me this mirror collectible put out by the Budweiser company. He said he'd already been in the antiques and collectibles section and there wasn't anything on it, and he wanted me to find him a book that would have his mirror in it. He continued to describe it but he was kind of mumbling and sounded rednecky and I swore he said "nigger mirror." I was like . . . no way, he couldn't have said that, and just waited for him to finish rambling. I told him I would see if there was a Budweiser collectibles book, but there wasn't, so he asked if I could check under Anheuser-Busch. I typed in both "Anheuser" and "Busch" but there was nothing. I figured it for a lost cause (there's NO way without a title or keyword that you can find out what collectibles are listed IN books we don't even have), but then he just KEPT talking about it and trying to describe it in more detail! He said, "It's like this mirror, and it has this big fat black pipe-smoking, pimp-lookin' dude on it, with like some Africans dancing in the background, and it says 'Budweiser' on it," blah blah blah . . . and I'm all like, "I can't help you unless you have some other idea of what to search under," describing it to me doesn't make books appear about it, and he goes, "Well, it wouldn't be under 'nigger,' would it?" I wasn't sure whether to be super super offended or to start laughing crazily because he seemed to think that was actually a possibility. "Yes sir, let me take you to the 'nigger' section. . . . Oh, wait, that's right, the nigger mirror, of course, why didn't you say so?" ACK! So, in response to his question about whether it would be under "nigger," I replied, "No, I very much doubt it would be," and kind of turned away and got very interested in arranging my hold pile. And so he goes, "Hey, well THERE'S some black folks, I'll go and ask them." WHAT??? Of course, in the black community, everyone knows of THE "nigger mirror." WHAT THE HELL??? I just hope for his sake that he didn't say "nigger" to them, but I kind of hope he did and they took him out back and slugged him.

And the most willfully ignorant customer I've ever had is. . . .

Drum roll please. . . .



Today I had a customer who made me wish natural selection was a bit rougher in human society.

First off, she asked her question in the wrong place, and she had the wrong title for the book. I found the book she actually wanted, a book on parenting boys, and managed to convince her that it really was the book she wanted despite the fact that it didn't match the title she had, and she began leafing through it.

"Oh, this looks pretty dry," she commented, not actually reading anything. I looked at her, puzzled, and then she said to me, as if it was a sane comment: "You know, I don't like it when books have just pages and pages of writing."

Gulp. . . .

So, at this point, my eyes were tearing up with laughter, but she still had a question, where are the magazines? Oh yes, they're under the giant sign across the whole back wall of the store that says magazines, and I pointed. She thanked me and went in the opposite direction to where I was pointing. I caught up to her and turned her around, and she laughed like "Oh I'm so scatterbrained" and reversed directions.

I went up to the customer service desk, took a deep breath, and laughed. For probably twenty minutes I kept bursting out in fits of giggling that brought tears to my eyes.

I really wish I could have taken "I hate books with writing" lady to the first chapter books section and told her that was where she could find books more on her level, but I doubted they would teach her how to raise children, since they were aimed at people who ARE children.

(Dis)Honorable Mentions: The runners-up!


Oh jeez. A woman came in and asked where the Harry Potter books were. My manager went to take her to Kids' and asked her on the way which one she was looking for. "Oh, I just wanted to see what he has out." Hmm, referring to the books as being "books he has out" sounds a bit weird considering Harry is not an author, being fictional and all. The lady then helpfully added, "He's the kid who died." Double-take from the manager and all of us at the desk. Turned out she somehow thought Harry Potter was this kid who died of a chronic disease not too long ago, this kid who wrote poetry. His name is Mattie J. T. Stepanek. Sounds a lot like Harry Potter, doesn't it?


Got a good one from last night. Apparently some customer walked up to use the phone, and it rang before she could pick it up to use it, so she just answered it. When the customer started requesting books and stuff, she just said, "Um, I don't work here. I can get you someone who does. . . ." Um, why the hell would you just answer some business's phone? Ass.


Today something really annoying happened. I was standing in the cooking section helping a guy when this lady, also shopping for cookbooks, began to get really close to us, and at a choice point in our banter she inserted herself into our conversation. See, I was explaining to the guy that if we didn't have the cookbook he wanted, I could call the other store and see if they had it because we carry the same books. This was when the lady butted in and informed me that we could also check a different store because we were in fact the same company.

I told her we weren't the same company, but she replied, "Well that's sure what they told me." At this point I was already wondering why she gave a rat's ass about whether our stores are the same, but this lady seemed determined to start something with me, it was really weird. I hazarded that maybe she got that idea because sometimes we order from the same warehouse, but she cut me off again and said, "NO, your stores share inventory and everything, you can order books from each other, I know because they did it for me!" When I was about to ask for some sort of clarification on that she kept going, "Yes, they ordered a book to your other store for me and I picked it up there!" So I just said, "Okay, right," and turned back to the guy I was actually trying to help. We went back to the service counter so I could call the other store and he was like, "That lady was really pushy with you, wasn't she." I replied that I had no idea why she was so determined to prove to me that we are in fact the same as a different store, but after two and a half years of working at this store and having absolutely nothing to do with that other store's inventory, I'd have to say it comes as quite a shock that we're technically the same store. (Reminds me of the guy who claimed he always got software at our bookstore BEFORE, which made me wonder who he thought he was fooling--I mean, after two and a half years, how have I managed to not notice the software section?) Anyway, they didn't have his book. I still would like to know what actually happened to make that lady think we're all one big happy bookstore family with the competition, but misinterpretations happen all the time; perhaps their computer has powers over the warehouse that ours doesn't and they can order to our stores, or maybe someone from their store actually picked up the phone and asked the other store to order a book for this customer. But no, no, I'm wrong. I'm their employee really. (Does this mean I can have their health care package? Ours sucks.)


This one was confusing. A lady wandered up and said, "Where is your holiday joke book section?" I was a bit confused by that as I am not even aware of one holiday joke book, much less an entire section devoted to such things, but I figured there might be a little joke book somewhere and offered to show her the Christmas tables. As I led her around to them, I told her that I didn't know of a particular holiday joke book, and was about to ask her if she was looking for a particular one when she replied, "No, I said JOKE books." I got confused and said, "Yeah, like I said I don't know of any particular book, I haven't actually seen a holiday joke book yet--" "NO," she replied, "NO, I said JOKE. Like bah, humbug. Joke books!" This was weird. I replied, "YEAH, I'm saying I haven't seen any joke books--" "JOKE books, honey!" I still have no idea what she thought I was saying, but when I repeated it one more time she laughed and said, "Oh, I thought you were misunderstanding me this whole time!" Ohhhkay, lady. Too much egg nog?


A guy at the register informed me that the concept of the discount card stressed him out. He had one and it had expired, and it bothered him to try to make it to the store before it expired, it just "wasn't worth it," he said. But the stuff he was buying totalled over sixty dollars, which would mean that at saving ten percent and buying a card for five dollars, he would save about six-fifty. I told him that he could have the card for free and save a buck and a half, but he refused, and I couldn't help making a little jibe at him: "Okay, it's fine with me if you want to pay an extra dollar-fifty for your stuff today." He replied that it would save him a dollar fifty but cause him ten dollars' worth of worry.

If anyone reading this is ever so stressed out by a free discount card that they would rather pay extra money to keep it away . . . please, please, I beg you: Get help.


An older lady clutching an audio book catalog wanted some help today. First off she started her interaction with me by claiming she couldn't figure out how to find anything in our audio section, which always means "you must have no rhyme or reason to the organization of this section" and never means "I'm too lazy to figure it out." (Several of our sections are in BAD shape, but Audio Books has never been one of them, and it always shocks me how few people can comprehend the concept of "alphabetical by author's last name.") Anyway, I thought all right, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and maybe her eyes are bad or something, and just try to help her. We decided to look the books up on the computer, and she kept rattling off titles. We must have gone through ten or fifteen, until finally three or four of them were things we didn't have to order, they might be in the section. I wrote them down and we went to the section, and again she claimed that she had been in the section for fifteen minutes (imagine that said very pointedly) and hadn't seen any of these. Errr. Well, I found ALL of them on the list. The first one was an unabridged fiction book on ten cassettes and it cost like thirty bucks. When the lady saw that she looked confused, held up her catalog, and said, "it didn't cost that in HERE!" I explained to her that an audio book catalog through some random club does not sell at retail prices. She told me about how ordering through this company was not secure (whatever the hell that means) and that was why she was shopping at our store to get the books in their catalog, but it bothered her that we charged more for the books. ::sigh::


"Ya know, I would never have know you worked here if it weren't for that apron!"

Um. Now, are bookstore workers supposed to somehow look different? Are we supposed to have a specific jaunty walk? Do we have books for heads? Actually, no. Except for our aprons, we tend to look like, well, other people. So what the hell does that mean? It is the Consumer Mystery.


A very strange guy came in buying audio books. He asked me, "The discount card gives you ten percent off, right?" I said yes. Then he said, "Well, can I get fifteen?" That was a little odd. I told him, "No." Then I proceeded to ring up his books, and he said, "So, what's the policy on these things? I can listen to them and bring them back, right?" What is this, attempted Jedi Mind Tricks? I said, "Noooo . . . if they're opened, they can't be returned." He told me he was surprised we didn't do an "exchange" program where you listen to them and then trade them in for other audio books. Er . . . we're not Cracker Barrel or the library, believe it or not. But he said that they did this program at another bookstore. Why a retail store would do an audio book exchange library is beyond me, but I certainly haven't heard of it. I haven't called them and asked about it, either. (Note added later: Someone who works at that store wrote me e-mail and said they've never heard of such a thing either. Yay! Confirmed psycho!)


A lady came up and asked me, "Do you have any books that are kinda neat?" I asked her to define neat. She said, "Ya know, like books for a young child, ones that are, ya know, kinda neat." I asked for an example of neat. She took a book off the shelf in the activity section and said, "Well, ya know, like this one's pretty neat," and started paging through it. I said I still wasn't sure what satisfied the requirements of "neat" but that most of our books that did things or were specialty books were right there in the section where she was standing. Then she immediately asked me if any of the books on the sale tables were "neat." I gave up.


Another very interesting customer asked me if there was actually a BOOK for Harry Potter. I thought he was kidding. Are there really people out there who think Harry Potter is only a movie? It only made a giant splash because so many kids started reading because of it.


A girl of about eleven years old came up to me and asked, "What books are good?" Heh. So I asked her what books she's read that are "good" so I could make a good recommendation based on her interests. She gave me some, and I suggested a few she hadn't read, and then she's like, "I don't know, the books I like are . . . the GOOD books. I like books that are GOOD." Jeez. Actually, I prefer to read books that suck, myself.


I love it when people are ignorant but they treat you like you're the one who doesn't know anything. "I need a book about Dale Earnhardt's life," she said, "but it isn't a biography." This seemed like a contradiction to me. "If it's about his life, it would be a biography," I replied, and began to lead her to the bio section. She planted her feet and shook her head, gave me a withering look, and said, "It can't exactly be a biography, can it? I mean, don't you know he's dead?" Things clicked for me, and I realized she thought a biography was the same thing as an autobiography. I informed her of the difference and explained that people write other people's biographies all the time. It was enough to make her go to the freakin' section with me, only to complain that the autobiographies should be separated from the biographies. Whatever.


Also, a lady asked if we had any tapes. Since "tapes" could mean audio books, music cassettes, or videos, I asked her for clarification: "You mean audio tapes?" Her answer, with a snooty look like I'm incompetent, was as follows: "YES, I mean audio tapes, like you put in your VCR?" I could not stifle my laugh, and informed her that we do not carry videos but we carry audio tapes. She seemed to realize she screwed up and just walked away.


Some lady wanted to buy a gift certificate, but since she considered our gift certificate "ugly," she wanted to know if she could get a gift certificate with a pretty picture on it. When I said that was all we had, she walked out.


Today I got some shipments of books and had to call the people to tell them their books were in. I asked for one woman and she got on the phone. I told her, "A book you ordered from us has come in . . . " and she sounded very confused, complaining that she didn't remember ordering any book from us. She asked who we were again and I told her, and then she was like, "I ordered a book???" I told her that I had a record of her ordering a book and gave her the date, and then almost choked when I gave her the title: Improving Your Memory.

See the 10 worst customers ever!


Notebook paper graphic used in the title image: Made by Heather and Warren's Gif Pages.