My Record of Work: The Annoying, the Interesting, and the Just Plain Weird--The Year 2006.

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A guy at the register told me he wanted to get "second receipts" for each of his two books. I told him that I could do a reprint of them no problem for him, but then he was being really vague about what he wanted. It turned out that actually he didn't want double copies of the receipts; he expected me to understand that "I want second receipts for both of these" (which he said a couple times) was his way of saying he wanted me to ring the books up on separate transactions because one was for his own purchase and one was for his work. I think the word is "separate," guy. . . .

Some dumbass was asking for directions to the store saying he was coming from out of town. I asked him if when he came to the store he was going to be coming straight off the highway. He said no, so I asked what direction he was coming from. He said, "Well . . . I'm coming off of I-75?" THAT'S THE HIGHWAY, dummy. And when I repeated, "So you ARE coming off the highway?" this time he agreed with me. ::shrug::

A woman called and wanted me to check an ISBN for her, but I had picked up on the cordless phone and explained to her that she'd have to wait a moment for me to get to the computer to punch it in. "Okay," she replied, and immediately began rattling off the number. I had to stop her and repeat my sentence about NOT BEING IN FRONT OF THE COMPUTER YET. We didn't have and couldn't get her book. But then she told me that she'd ordered another book and wanted to know if it was there yet. I asked when she ordered it and she wasn't specific but said that since it was a while ago it should be there by now. After checking under her name in the holds and finding nothing, the lady started freaking out and threw her phone number at me in an outraged tone of voice, at which point I used it to bring up her account and find that she'd ordered it six days before, on a day when it was too late in the week to get it by that same weekend. It wasn't even supposed to be at the store yet. And *I* had placed the order, so I know I didn't tell her it would be this week. Whatever.

A woman came up to check out but she still had a book question and tossed it at me to field. She said that she wanted this mystery book, but that when she'd been back in Mystery she'd discovered that we don't have an A section. I'm like what? She said that the mystery section started with the authors starting with B. Okay. I got her A author's name, looked for it in the section, and found her books on the shelf (though the one the lady wanted was absent). But it wasn't like the B shelf started at the top or something and the A shelf was somewhere else. It was just all very straightforward with A at the beginning of the shelf and continuing into B. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what made this poor woman see "B" at the beginning of the shelf and take it as evidence that there's no mystery section for books whose authors start with A. . . .


Today an unknown co-worker of mine made me look rather stupid. See, a dude came in, saying that our other store had called us asking us to hold a book for him the other day. It wasn't being held under his name and then I couldn't find it as being something we even carried in the computer. Now, what ended up happening was annoying in several places. One, when I looked up the book it showed others in the series but not the one he was looking for. Rather impossible considering we'd apparently held one for him. But then it turned out the computer thought I was looking for a series, and for no apparent reason this particular book had been left out of the list of books in the series even though it was one of them. And then on top of that we ended up finding the book only because the CUSTOMER happened to notice it hiding under the desk! It was stuck under the front of the desk in one of the little cubbyholes where we put our phone books and office supplies, not in the area where we keep customer holds. It also had no name on it. Turns out one of my co-workers forgot to ask for the customer's name and decided to just stick it under the desk, assuming he'd come the same day. He didn't. In any case, he must have thought I was an idiot, considering he came in having been told his book was on hold, got told it wasn't, got told his book wasn't carried by the store, and then had to happen to spot it himself. (The thing was the size of a phone book and easy to recognize if you know what it looks like.) So, this Stupid file is for all the people who made ME look stupid. Thanks, jerks.

One of our regulars who fancies herself close personal friends with many of the associates decided to be a moron again today. I was helping a lady on the phone and just as I was walking away from the desk to go look for her book, this regular came up and started calling for me in a frantic voice, yelling for me to come back, come back! Well, if you just wait your turn like everyone else, I'll get to you. I quickly called back to her (as I walked away) that I had a customer on the phone that I was helping and she would have to wait a minute, but she opted not to do so and followed ME, then said, "Oh you're looking for something for someone else? What are you looking for? Well I need you to come get me my book!" Chill out!

A woman asked me for a book that my computer had no trace of. When I explained to her that some books just have limited runs or are print-on-demand and thus are only carried on the Internet, she replied, "Well where might I find it?" I told her again about the Internet option and she said, "But I tried that already and I can't find it anywhere mentioned on the Internet either!" Ahh, there's NO TRACE OF YOUR ITEM ON THE ENTIRE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY but you think some customer service girl at a corporate bookstore can locate it for you? Good luck.

And lastly an annoying man refused to get a discount card at the register today because "I'm not a fan of corporate tracking." People always think there's this nefarious plan to gather data on them with things like discount cards. Actually, our evil ploy? It's to get you to think, "Well I have a discount there, I'll go to that store to get it." But the dude obviously had it all figured out, that somewhere at our headquarters we have collected billions of records showing what car magazines this guy buys. Supposedly our company doesn't sell out the names and addresses we get (though you never know with a corporate store what constitutes "we"), but this guy didn't believe that either; he was like, "Oh yeah sure that's what they tell you." ::sigh:: Bottom line is, if someone wants to know shit about you, they're going to find it out. You're not safer because you don't sign up for cards and you pay in cash.


A lady came up with two requests for book lookups. I couldn't find a reference to either the title or the author of her first book in the entire database, and my reporting of this was responded to with a cutting look and a squawk of "Well she's ON the INTERNET!" Because as we all know, no one ever publishes their own book, goes through a company like Publish America, or has a limited run and then sells their book only on the 'Net, right? That doesn't happen in the world! And then she wanted decorating books that had been illustrated by Mary Engelbreit. I'm familiar with her because she has also illustrated children's books, and it seemed like my search was only coughing up books about her art or the aforementioned kids' books, not actual decorating books. The lady kept impatiently urging me to "just tell me where that kind of book would BE!" without listening to my whole "um I haven't found a listing of even ONE we would have" response. She said she didn't want the books of her art, she specifically wanted the decorating books, but finally when my "there aren't any so far" got through her head she asked where the ones that weren't kids' books were and decided to go look there for no apparent reason. "Um yeah I don't want art books but I'll be in the art section." And then she bustled off shouting over her shoulder to just keep looking and notify her if I found anything.

I stopped helping after she walked away. Sorry, but if you go wandering off to a section that isn't even the one you want and you aren't going to stay here and let me ask you the pertinent questions, I can't keep helping. I don't have a computer in the art section, and I am not going to have a relay race between you and the computer. When she walked away I was frustrated, thus my decision to stop helping, but then I decided it would be good customer service to at least go over and pretend like I wanted to help, and offer to take her to the decorating section since that was more what she was looking for even if no Mary E books end up being there. But guess what--she wasn't in the art section anyway. She had walked over to Woodworking shortly after leaving my presence. So I guess I was supposed to hunt her down with more help with books even though she wasn't staying where she said she would. Ehh, enough already.


A man called me wanting to know about ordering a book. He had spoken with someone the week before about ordering it but had only now decided that he definitely wanted to, so he knew it was available. I found what he was talking about: It was a repair manual for a non-standard vehicle of some kind, and after asking me three times if this or this or this was available (after I'd already told him only ONE item on the subject was), he agreed to order it. But then he started hesitating because his vehicle was a year 2000 model and the manual went from 1985 to 2001.

Right, it shouldn't have been a problem.

"That's an awful lot of information to be paying for when I need only the one year," he grumbled, and started giving me signs that he was thinking of not ordering it because it had too much information. Okay, that's just dopey. But I assured him that if its covering many years made each year that it covers be too cursory, he would be allowed to return it. "You don't have to pay for it ahead of time," I said, "so if it turns out it's not what you want, you have no obligation to buy it, I just order it to here and you come in and look at it." Right after that he said, "Okay, I'll order it. Do I have to pay now?" Dude, you decided to order it based on me saying there was no obligation, so why would you pay now? The rest of the conversation continued in this way, with him asking questions right after I'd answered them. It was very frustrating.

And then we had the man who came in saying his order was due in today and he was here to pick it up. Well, I don't know what employee asshole has been telling people "It'll be here Saturday" because that just makes idiots stampede in on Saturday thinking it must mean they arrive at 5 in the morning, but I wish they'd stop telling customers that because it makes them think they can pick it up that day. Sometimes the truck comes really late. Like even as late as 9 at night or something. You can't just mosey in on the day the truck arrives and assume that it beat you here.

So anyway, the guy says he wants his order and I say it isn't here yet so he starts blustering about how he drove all the way here from an out-of-the-way nearby town. Yeah, that was bright of you; go way out of your way to come here without even calling to make sure it's there. Hey, it's your gasoline. Anyway, he ended up being very difficult to help because after he accepted that his book wasn't going to be here while he was, he still wanted more books. First he claimed that the books he wanted were by this particular author, but then he said they were the sequels to the one he ordered, and when I looked up what he ordered, it was a different author. I told him, "Okay, The Last Jihad is what you ordered," and he replied, "No, not Left Behind." I think people are just hearing things. Anyway then he was rambling about how the book he wanted was on the sale table--which would explain why there's none in the section but "we saw a bunch of them last time we were here"--and was calling his wife getting exact directions to where on what table the book was! Because we never move anything. (We did manage to find it, but the sale book section had been rearranged since his last visit.) Finally he bought the two books and left, and I was able to go on my break. ::sigh::

Then I got to spend like half an hour with the same mother and daughter team looking for a mystery. Her teacher had assigned her to do a book report on a mystery and it had to be at least above a certain reading level, which is difficult to find because mostly they stop labeling reading levels when you get out of elementary school and this girl was a teenager. Not to mention that the teen section is not separated into genres like mystery; it's just all together. On top of that, the girl didn't LIKE mysteries and doesn't WANT to read a long book. So basically, every interaction involved trying to determine whether a book was a mystery, trying to determine whether it was a high enough reading level, and then listening to the girl bitch either because it wasn't high enough or it WAS high enough but looked too long. You see, there happens to be a correlation between book length and reading level. The higher ones are going to be longer so get over it.

Anyway, they wandered through Teen, they wandered to Kids' Fiction because the mom insisted that a particular series of kids' books was probably high enough of a reading level (it wasn't, it was for fourth graders), and finally to the adult mystery section. At one point Mom got on the phone with someone at home who was using a special Web site to look up all these unlabeled books to find their reading level. (At first they'd suggested *I* do that, but we don't have Internet access, nor does the Web site clue us in to reading levels in their blurbs.) And finally, the punch line is this: Just about every book I saw or heard them discussing was later found by me thrown onto a random shelf with a few of its fellows. They went all over the store carrying piles of books around and then just dropping them wherever they felt like it because the books didn't suit the impossible specifications. I don't know if they even bought anything.

I heard the bell at Customer Service go off, but I was with a customer at the time, and then before I finished with that customer I heard the frickin' bell again. When I was free I went straight up there and saw a woman standing there not looking particularly impatient, so I just went up and asked if I could help her. "I saw THREE people just walk past while I was standing here," she announced. Hmm, perhaps they were helping customers too. I told her that I'd been helping a customer myself but now I was free, and asked again what I could do for her. She wanted a book I was familiar with so I took her to the shelf, but we were out of it (though we had other books by the author). I offered to call the other store for her, and while I was doing that, someone called me to the register for a return. I spoke to the person at the other store and while I was doing that again they called me to the register. ::sigh:: I told the lady I was helping that they probably just needed me to push a button up there and I'd go do that and come right back to tell her what the other store said. She seemed fine with that, like "Oh, okay, sure, thank you." Well, I went to the register, performed the return, talked to the store employee when they came back and said they didn't have any either, and returned to the aisle to tell the lady . . . and she wasn't there anymore. I never found her again. I still don't know if she thinks I just didn't try or if she figured I'd be able to wander the store until I found her. Maybe she's just that annoying miffed type of customer and she just didn't show it the way they usually do when they're easily offended idiots.

Ahh, and I helped an obnoxious lady. I suppose she has something of an excuse because she was pretty old, but she kept committing one of my pet peeves: She didn't hear or didn't understand something I'd said, but then she'd pretend that she did and reply to it. So basically, I kept getting treated to non sequiturs from this lady who obviously thought she was fooling the world into thinking she can hear. First she wanted a book for a nine-year-old about horses. I found her one. She didn't even question it, just picked up the first thing I suggested. Then it was a three-year-old girl she wanted a book for. I asked if the girl still eats books or if she can be responsible with paper pages. I ended up getting her a cute storybook. Then all of a sudden she remembered she had two more great-grandchildren and decided to buy for them. Now a five-year-old boy, for whom I talked her out of buying a Ninja Turtles book, and finally another three-year-old and I tried until the cows came home but I couldn't get her to tell me if it was a girl or a boy. Finally she chose the Caldecott book for this year and left.

Later on she was back, having looked through one of the books and decided it was inappropriate. Shit. So I not only had to help her find a replacement; I had to do her damn return. She told me it was the Caldecott book that she was returning, but it turned out it was the other one. Nuts. I got her a Golden Book treasury that was more appropriate, but before I was able to do that she was all over the place being moronic. I couldn't seem to get her to tell me whether we were getting a book for the child to read herself or if it was intended to be read to her. I asked her four times. I think the customer near us figured out I was dealing with an idiot because she giggled when she heard me just repeating the question and getting non sequiturs in return (such as "yes, something more appropriate for her age level"). And when I pulled things out she'd look at them, reject them, and usually put them back in the right place, but this one time she walked away and tried to put a book where it didn't belong, and the shelves weren't big enough for that book (I have them specially spaced on the shelf where it actually goes, so it will fit), and she kept trying everything to get it to fit there, including turning it sideways. Isn't it obvious that it DOESN'T GO THERE if you saw me get it off a shelf where it fit and now you can't fit it?

When we got to the register to process the return, I asked her for her phone number and she said, "Yes. And please put it in a bag for me." ::sigh:: Lady, please check your battery. . . .

And now for a few funny moments that made this frustrating day better.

I have a funny co-worker who truly says what she means quite often. A customer came up to the desk while both of us were there and asked her to check if we had any more books by "this" author, holding a paperback and wiggling it around so she couldn't read what was on it. "I WOULD if you'd stop MOVING it," she hollered, and he jiggled it around some more as a joke before letting her have it. I told her she was mean. Hah.

Then, there was a dude who asked my co-worker a question about kids' books, and she didn't know the answer because it was one of those "I don't know the title or author but it's about THIS!" questions. So she got me, Goddess of Kids' Books, to field the question. When referred to me, the dude said the other girl claimed I was the best to ask and I said, "Yes, well that's because I know everything." He pitched his question and I did indeed know what book he meant, but before we got to it I said, "If I'm right about this, I win a million dollars, RIGHT?" He said he wasn't sure about a million dollars but he'd buy me something in the café. Hah. Well, I was right (of course)--the woman he was with shrieked, "THAT'S IT!!" when she saw the cover--and then he goes, "So, what're you drinking?" ::grin:: I told him not to buy me anything, but it sure was nice to know someone really appreciates what I do.

And also, this dude wanted The Giving Tree and said it's his favorite Shel Silverstein and that it chokes him up. I agreed and told him there was another Silverstein that does the same thing for me: The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. He asked if we had it and I told him we did, gave him a copy, and told him it's wonderful because it's about relying on yourself for your happiness. He didn't even open it; he just thanked me and took both books to the register. Awesome. I hope he loves it as much as I do.


Someone pissed me off today! This lady called and asked whether I had a book. Ironically it was a book about customer relations. I had the book and she said, "Would you hold it at the front for me please?"

Usually when people say "hold it at the front" they don't know that, well, our customer service desk isn't at the front, it's in the middle of the store. So I told her that when we hold books we normally hold them at Customer Service in the center of the store, and asked whether that would be okay or whether she was asking me specifically to put it at the register at the front of the store. "YES I am asking you to put it at the front," she snapped, "and if you cannot do that, I'll just call someone else. In fact, I think I'll go ahead and do that." Huh? Wow, she's so touchy about giving good customer service that she automatically assumes a simple question is an expression that I don't want to do what she wants?

So I shot right back with "We're FINE with holding it at the register as long as we know you're coming by the same day. I'd just have to tell the cashier why it's there because we don't normally hold books up there, books that are left at the register end up back on the shelf." She calmed down after that and told me that she just didn't want to drag her three-year-old through any more of the store than she had to. Fine. But don't treat me like I'm denying you good customer service just because I know better than you do how things work around here and needed some clarification about what the hell you wanted. When this lady came in, she told me she teaches classes on customer service at the college. Guess she felt like since she's some customer service guru then she can snip-snap at anyone who dares question HER, the all-important CUSTOMER. Guess where people who think they're better than me because I wear a nametag end up?

The Stupids page.

She sure showed me.

A woman who was in last week returned to the store today asking the same question. She expected me to remember the whole situation because I was the person who waited on her last week, and seemed almost offended that she had to explain what she wanted again. Turned out she misunderstood my whole "well we get shipments on the weekend, maybe we'll get some more in," thinking that meant we'd have more by now. Nope. And she did this really annoying thing--I remembered her doing THAT!--where she stood too close to me, and whenever I moved away she moved closer again. God I hate that.

She also kept doing this cartoon jaw-dropping thing too. Whenever I told her something that displeased or surprised her, her jaw dropped and she treated me to that expression for a few moments before closing her mouth and repeating what I'd said. "How long would it take if I ordered it?" "About a week and a half if you order today." [clunk] "A WEEK AND A HALF???" Sorry, you have bad timing.

A woman came to pick up her two books and then when I gave them to her she started doing that rummaging around in the purse thing that people often do when they think they're checking out with me. "Do I get a discount if I'm buying two books by the same author?" she asked. When I said there was no such discount, she then asked if she'd get a discount because she was paying in cash. I told her the only discount that would apply would be the discount card, and explained to her how that worked at her request. She was acting like she was trying to decide whether to get it, and then she goes, "Do you have links here?" Links? "Computer links." I asked her if she meant did we have wireless Internet. She said yes, so I said we didn't, and for some reason that ended up being cited as her reason for not getting a card. But then she just kept pushing her books at me throughout this conversation, so I had to direct her to Checkout. Go up there and see if you can think of any other half-assed reasons you should get a discount, and try them on her, because I'm done.

An older woman approached Checkout while I was doing the cashier's break and put her stack of three cookbooks and a bar of chocolate down. She opened with, "Are you all still taking my uh . . . ? My uh . . . ?" She left it at that and kept digging in her purse. Finally she pulled out a card from another bookstore. I don't know if it was their discount card or a gift card or what but I told her we weren't them. "But I thought they take this everywhere!" she protested. Um, no, stores don't take each other's discount cards or store credit. We're not all one happy bookstore family that's really all the same at the end of the day. So she told me she was only going to buy the chocolate because she wanted to buy the cookbooks at the other bookstore so she could use her uh. As I finished ringing her up for the candy she said, "I thought there was a sign out there." I asked her what sign and she started explaining that she was sure the sign out there had said we were the other bookstore. Sorry. The odds are not very in favor of the notion that I am confused about where I have worked for more than five years. I'll have to place my bet on you being confused about where you are, lady.

"Where's your nonfiction section?"


I asked the lady who asked this to be more specific and she goes, "Well, like, nonfiction?" Yeah, that's more specific, or NOT, being that it's an exact repetition of what you just said. I wouldn't ask for more information if that was enough, dummy. I asked what book she was looking for and she said James Frey's books, so I'm like, hey, you want the biography section. That wasn't so hard was it.

I got called to the register to use my manager powers to take an item off of a customer's bill for the other cashier, and because she had a line I jumped on the other register and helped take care of it. So we were both busy when a customer came up and asked the other cashier where she could find books on ADHD. Since the other cashier suggested the Self-Help section but I knew there to be some on the subject in Family as well, I chimed in and asked her whether she was looking for books on adults having ADD or if she was looking for books that helped parents deal with kids who have it. She said she wanted adult ones, though, so I agreed with the cashier and said she was probably right that Self-Help was where to look. I kind of tuned out the conversation after that because it isn't nice to ignore the customer you're ringing up, but I heard a couple more exchanges go on and I thought that was the end of it. Except that when we were both done with our lines, the woman was still there, standing there with her arms crossed like she was waiting for someone.

As I came out from behind the counter she followed me with her eyes, broadcasting this look of pure expectation, so I asked her if she needed help with something else. "ADD BOOKS!" she said in exasperation. "Oh, I thought she [the cashier] told you they'd be in Self-Help already, I didn't know you were still waiting for anything else." She agreed that she had been told they were in Self-Help but that she was still waiting for someone to show her where it was or point her. "I thought you were still deliberating about where I should look," she whined. Yeah, because it seems so much like deliberation when we go back to our work of ringing up customers who want to check out. Actually, this problem happened because you asked questions at the register instead of Customer Service, but whatever. So I told her I'd take her back there. She said she could find it herself if I just pointed but I kinda figured with the way she was acting it would be better to take her there.

When we got there she answered my question about whether there was a certain book she was looking for with "No," but then of course she told me there was a particular author who wrote books on the subject. I offered to let her browse the section while I looked on the computer to see if there was anything on the subject (since, you know, there's not an "Adult ADD section" in Self-Help), and I only found one, which I picked out and handed to her. Then I left her in Family browsing the other books on the subject. It was pretty normal after that.


I have noticed an increasing trend lately toward people expecting us to have videos in the store. I don't know what the problem is. Today I got asked for Richard Simmons exercise videos, which of course is a problem all by itself, but doubly so when she's asking a bookstore that has never sold such things. And a lot of the time these people automatically assume that we have videos so without telling us they're looking for a VIDEO they rattle off its title and we're blissfully looking for books unaware that they want something they can watch as it tells the story. Le sigh.

When someone asked me for a book and we didn't have any, I explained that it was a book I can order but don't have in the store, and she goes, "You don't have any . . . AT ALL?" Weirdly I've heard that before very often. So I just repeated back to her, "At all." What are they actually asking when they say this? You only kind of don't have it, right? When you say you don't have it, that does mean there's still a copy there for me to buy, right? When you say you have to order it, you don't really mean that, right? WTF?

A woman came up to Customer Service and had to wait for me to finish helping another customer before it was her turn. After I finished, I turned to her and said, "Can I help you?" and she merrily tossed her book onto the counter. So, playing along to see if she'd figure out you can't check out at Customer Service, I asked if she had a question for me. She said, "Nope, I just wanna buy that book right there!" She thumped the book with a loud smack as she said it, then picked it up and tossed it at me across the counter. So I copied her tone of voice--this sort of excited happy quality--and tossed it back to her, saying, "O-KAY, great! They can take care of you at the checkout . . . " and showed her where to go. She laughed at herself and went away. Hehehe.

A woman on the phone with a slightly foreign accent told me she wanted a book, but I couldn't understand most of the words in the title, so I asked for the author. She had that information too, thank goodness, though for some reason she thought it was necessary to spell "Jefferson" for me. Why couldn't she have spelled some of the other words in that title (one of which turned out to be "colloidal")? So anyway, I found the book in the system and told her I could order it. Seeming confused, she started giving me more information, such as that the book could be acquired from Ingram and who the publisher was. When she asked me if I needed the ISBN I told her I didn't need any more help locating the book, I had what she was asking for on my screen and all I needed to know was whether she wanted to get it. She agreed to order it, so I asked if she'd ordered books here before, which would mean she has an entry in the previous orders database in the computer. She said she had indeed ordered before, and started getting this bitchy tone with me like I was asking her to prove something or doubting her worth as a customer by asking if this was her first time. She started defensively explaining that she had a discount card, and I was like, whoa whoa, who cares, just give me the phone number you want me to use. I pulled her up immediately and got the book ordered, and just pretty much allowed her to ramble about how her name is spelled and all this nonsense that I didn't need because hello she was already in there. I completed the order and asked her if she needed anything else today, and she was STILL TRYING TO CONVINCE ME THAT SHE HAD ORDERED BEFORE! I don't know why she thought this hadn't been established or why she was going crazy with this, but at this point she started telling me she could give me titles she's ordered before and maybe I could get the information by looking at that. I just flat out told her, "I have already ordered the book for you. I had all the information I needed. We will call you when it is in. I was asking if you had anything else you want to ask about today." For some reason that worked and she stopped freaking out. I swear people are trying like hell to make it so I can't help them.

Had a lady call me saying she bought a discount card but was having trouble using it online. She wanted to use it online because their prices were lower than buying them at the retail store, but she was complaining because--get this--when she bought the card we didn't show her how to use it online. That's right, we, a store without Internet access, are supposed to sell her the card and then take her through a demonstration process that she didn't say anything about when she bought the card, just in case she decides to try to make an online purchase. I made a small stab at trying to help her by explaining that when you go to the checkout part they ask if you have a discount card and allow you to type in the number if you do, but she kept going off about how she was clicking on links that advertise the discount card and when it asked if she wants to save ten percent it kept adding a ten dollar charge for the card to her purchase. So in other words she was chasing the discount instead of letting it come to her. But I couldn't get that across to her and sensed easily that she is one of those people who has to have another person's hand on top of hers on the mouse in order to learn to double-click, so I gave up.


The store was something of a madhouse for the first hour; I was actually busy before I even clocked in. The phone was ringing and I answered it with one hand while clocking in with the other. It was a complete idiot. Surprise!

This dude said, "I want to know about your gift cards." I said, "Okay," and then he answered me with silence. "What's your question about them?" I prompted, and he said, "Well, what's the deal with them?" After ascertaining that he was indeed talking about a gift card, not a discount card, I found out that he received a gift card to our store from a friend and now he doesn't know what it's for. "Well, they're gift certificates, except electronic," I explained. "So what do I do with it?" Huh?

So I told the Man from Neptune that if one receives a gift card one comes to the store and picks out merchandise that is to one's liking, and then one uses the gift card as currency. "So I can pay for things with it?" he asked, and I was like, huh? YES!! "How much is it worth?" he asked, and I told him that depended on how much his friend put on it, you get to choose the amount when you buy one. I was in the middle of offering to check the balance if he'd read off the number, but he was too busy interrupting me with another question: "Well what if I buy something and it's worth $50, and then the card is only worth $25? Do I then pay the difference?" Yes, fool! Good God, I wonder what hole he has been living in? Then he wanted to know if it's good on everything in the store and I said yes and that was the end. Weirdo.

Then I had this family that kept asking me questions. Mostly it was a young boy. He wanted me to show him a kids' series and I did so, but then he was back, asking me for some weird thing called "I-Quiz." When I told him I'd never heard of it and the computer hadn't either, he just repeated that his teacher had it and kept looking at me like that would make me able to get it. Future annoying customer! Then his mom wanted me to give her workbooks on "graphs," and I told her I had books on math on different levels but not one book that just had stuff about graphs in it. She replied that she wanted me to help her find a book on just graphs. So I had to tell her again. Then the little boy politely told me while I was walking up to the front with a cash drawer that when I was ready his brother needed me. Fine. But when I came back the kid was waiting at the desk and he said again his brother had a question, and kind of pointed vaguely in the direction his brother apparently was. Okay, well if Bro has a question he needs to come to the computer so I can type in his query, not the other way 'round. He finally figured that out and went and got the bro, who then asked me for a book that wasn't in the system and kind gave me a hard time about it as customers are wont to do when you can't help them. (It was one of those normal situations where he gave me the same information a few times as if the lack of results was due to my inability to search correctly.) I was like, man, for half the morning I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off and half of it's for the same family!

Actually, my morning pretty much went like this. Help Gift Card Idiot as I was clocking in. Go to the back to put my shit up. Come out to try to get hot water for my instant coffee. Get water. Customer starts ringing for me at the desk. Walk over to help her and that kid starts ringing the bell too. Help both of them in turn. Come back and get another phone call, which is a person hanging up on me. Another customer's at the desk. Help THAT customer. Walk to back to finally put coffee down, but some customer asks me for books on graphs. Finally get to back to put coffee down, but on the way out pass manager, who tells me to go help the people who are waiting at the desk. (Hey, I JUST left there!) Nobody's there when I get there. Then the kid asks me for I-Quiz while I'm writing all this crap down to put it on Stupids later. Argh. There wasn't a second someone wasn't trying to get my attention. Blah.

Here's my favorite of the day. My manager and I were standing at Customer Service talking, and then we decided to go about our work. I left the desk first and he left after me, both of us going the same direction with him about ten feet behind me. Coming the opposite direction up the same walkway we were was a mid-teens-looking girl with a younger brother at her side. She approached me and had that look on her face like she was about to ask me something, like she wanted to catch my eye, and so I met her eyes back and said "hullo!" with a little wave.

At that she made a sort of flinching motion, then walked right around me in a wide circle before going up to my manager and pitching her question to HIM. All righty then.

I followed my manager and the customers to the desk to try to overhear anything else strange about the interaction, but she just acted normal with him and he helped her, then returned.

"Did you see that? Was that not weird?" I asked him.

"Yeah," he agreed, then said, "I think she thought you were waving her off."

Waving her off? My "hullo!" and wave was a "go away" sign?

Wait, does that WORK?

Well, maybe from now on if I'm not in the mood to help someone I'll just wave my hand at them and they'll go somewhere else!

I'm not sure in what universe it makes sense that an employee would "wave" a customer off, but maybe because she was only a teen she's (sadly) used to people treating her with disrespect. Who knows what actually went through her head? I'm afraid I forgot to read her mind at the time. Fleh.

So. Then I had the Holy Cow lady. She wanted the book called Holy Cow and there were several authors who had written one with that title, so to make sure I was looking for the right book I asked her if she knew who wrote it. "It's Holy Cow, in paperback," she said, which of course in no way answers my question. I swear they just don't listen and switch off their brains until I start walking them to what they want, oblivious to the fact that I JUST ASKED FOR MORE INFORMATION. So I asked her again and she said she didn't know who wrote it. I told her seven authors had written a book with that title, which surprised her, and then I asked if she knew what it was about. She said it's about going to India. One of the books in my listing said it was in the travel section and it was about a trip to India, so I figured that was it and told her it must be this one that is a travel book. "No, not a travel book," she replied, which kind of doesn't make sense to me because if you're traveling to India and writing about it, that's a travel book. But anyway we ended up back there looking at it and she's putting herself down, "That was so DUMB of me, not to get the author, I had no i-DEA there'd be SEVEN of them." Heh.


This annoying dude who comes into the store every Sunday and has made my Stupids list before has returned to strike again. He rang the bell for customer service and when I arrived to help him he asked in a sort of mocking voice whether he had taken me away from anything important. Ohhkay. So I asked him what he needed and he told me the title of the book he wanted, but he is kind of foreign and one of the words in the title was "Lost," but it sounded like he could be saying "lost" or "last." I asked him whether he'd said "lost" or "last," and he just repeated the word again, and it sounded exactly the same as the first time, like a mix between the two. I happened to get lucky and choose the right one, and helped him find the book. Then he asked me if he would get twenty percent off everything he bought today. Not seeing where that came from, I asked him for clarification, and he said that he had a coupon he'd gotten in the e-mail and showed it to me, slapping me with "You didn't KNOW about it? You haven't come ACROSS it yet?" Well, I'd heard about the coupon but it's not like I knew the guy had it, and I certainly don't like to answer questions like "everything in the store's twenty percent off RIGHT?" with "Yeah sure!" without understanding what they're referring to. I explained his coupon to him, and he asked, "It doesn't work on YOU does it?" Huh? Turned out he wanted to buy me. Yyyyeah. Weird jerky old dude.

A guy asked for a book that didn't come up in my database. I tried it by title and by author, but there was no book in the database with his information. "Well, Amazon had it," the guy said pointedly. I explained that Amazon has access to certain things that retail stores don't because vanity presses, small publishers, and used book sellers can sell their products through there. After picking at me a little more (as if repeating the information would cause it to come up), he asked, "Do I have to go get the ISBN?" I told him that if he had the correct information and it wasn't coming up by title or author, ISBN wouldn't really help if it's only available online. "I'll just go home and get the ISBN," he said, and stalked off. Again, a case of someone who thinks I just can't find it, rather than IT ISN'T IN THERE. Guess what? NOT EVERY BOOK IS AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE. You people are going to have to learn to deal with this.


A woman came up and asked me for a book that I didn't recognize, but since it had "God" in the title I suggested that perhaps I wouldn't recognize it because I don't take care of the books in the religious section. (Our kids' religious books are in Religion, not in Kids'.) The lady immediately barked back at me, "It's not religious." I was like, okay, okay, and went to the desk to look it up. I found that I'd have to order it anyway, but it had a shelving location listed for if we DID carry it and it put it in the religious section. I decided to go be an ass and printed it out for her under the guise of wanting her to have the information, and went to give it to her but she's like, "I already have the information, THANK you," and so I took it away and left her alone.

This looks pretty religious to me.

[god gave]

In this full-color, read-to-me picture book, a charming polar bear cub asks one night, "Mama, where did I come from?" "From God", her loving mama answers, thus beginning a story of how two parents celebrate their child as a cherished gift from Him.

Nope, not a God book at all. Kind of like the Ten Commandments aren't religious.

Ooh, and I heard that over the weekend (MY weekend), some stupid children tried to pull one over on my manager. The teens were leaning on the bake case's glass and our café manager told them to stop it, so I guess one of them decided to pay her back by pulling shit on us. He bought a Coke from the café, and then as soon as the change was in his hand he ran away before she could give him the receipt, went STRAIGHT to Customer Service, and reported to the manager on duty that the café girl had not given him a receipt and therefore he wanted a free ten-dollar gift certificate in accordance with the sign that states you'll be given one of those if the cashier forgets to give you a receipt.

I heard that the manager actually ended up issuing the kids the gift card because even though she knew they were full of shit our corporate office is sometimes very touchy about issues like that; they'd rather give someone a gift certificate to shut them up than have them call the office all pissy and then have to mail them the certificate they supposedly deserved AND probably another one for their "trouble." But then I heard that they tried to do it again the same day! The café manager was wise to their tricks by this point and refused to ring them up, sending them to the main cash register where there were two cashiers so they'd be witnesses. They tried to do it again but I don't know what happened. All I know is that the manager flew off the handle a bit and e-mailed someone at the corporate office asking whether we can have people arrested for just being morons. Har.


A woman came in with a bunch of business cards advertising her new book. Usually nobody does that unless they're self-published or something, because like WTF? She claimed that she was NOT self-published, that this particular publishing company had published her, but that they'd said since she was "a nobody" that it would behoove her to do some advertising herself if she wanted people to read it. The publishing company she mentioned is one I know to be disreputable--hey, I'm in the industry in a couple different ways, as a salesperson, an editor, and a writer!--so I guess the skeptical face I made when she told me who she was with made her want to defend it. She launched into an explanation of how they USED to be a vanity publisher and only print on demand but that's all over now, and that everything she's come across about them has been positive. Well, if you read a company's Web site it's going to be positive, isn't it? I kinda felt bad for her, because now she thinks she's "published," when it's one of those companies that has titles available only online and is never in stock at bookstores. Sorry, lady. It's not that easy. (Then again I once encountered someone who thought he had a published book because his friend from church printed it for him and stapled it together. He didn't even have an ISBN and he walked in wanting to know what to do to get us to put the book on the shelf. Yeah. People don't know much about publishing.)

A woman came up asking about the newest Danielle Steel book, giving me the title. I looked it up and it only showed an option for advance orders, so I looked it up on my release date list and found it to have a release date of February 28. I told the lady that and she said, "So you don't have it?" I explained again that the RELEASE DATE is at the END OF THE MONTH and it does not come out until then. "So y'all don't have it then?" she repeated, looking annoyed. I told her that nobody has books before their release date, and that if they have a strict release date you can't get it before that, period. You'd think as a Danielle Steel reader she'd know that. But then comes the good part. . . .

She asked if this book coming out is her newest one since some other title. I looked it up and found out that actually she'd missed one; Toxic Bachelors had come out a few months back. She asked me to repeat the title and I did, and she replied, "Ehh. That doesn't sound very interesting." I told her it was a romantic fiction just like all her others, and the lady just repeated that the title didn't sound like it would interest her and went away saying she'd wait for the February 28 release. I was a bit stunned. I've heard of people judging books by their covers, but not refusing to look at a favorite author's book just because for some reason the title doesn't do anything for ya. It reminded me of that time some lady asked me for good reading books and when she asked me to describe Life of Pi I began with "It's about a boy from India--" and she cut me off and said "No." I had no idea people can get a gut feeling about a book so quickly.

In Kids' Fiction I have a lot of space in the P shelf so I have all of Dav Pilkey's books faced out. They catch a lot of eyes. An older couple wandered in there and started looking at them and took turns reading the titles of the Captain Underpants books to each other. There is nothing like hearing a slightly amused/slightly indignant old lady voice read out "The Plot of Professor Poopypants???"

A woman called and said she was looking for a certain movie. I said we don't carry movies and she shot back, "Well, Circuit City said you did!" I guess I've been found out. Circuit City knows our inventory better than me. What movie do you want? Get Circuit City to look it up for me, because I don't have that database. I bet she thought Circuit City had movies too.

A dude came up to me and said, "Where are your 10% off discount cards?" What a weird question. You get it at the register, man, but I guess he thought he had to find one and purchase it. Hehehe.


People who pretend like they're my friend because they can read my name on my shirt annoy me.

But people who use the fact that they know my name against me annoy me even more.

Some customer came up to the desk and the first thing he said was his last name. It was a name that could have been a title or something, or the author of a book, but he just figured he'd come to the desk and say his name and I'd know that means "Hi, I'm Mr. So-and-So and I have a book on hold, I'm here to pick it up." Anyway, when I pressed him to tell me the situation and he agreed that he was here to pick up his book, I asked him to repeat his last name. At that he addressed me by name and said, "Hel-LO!" with a sarcastic wave of his hand, like, God, I can't believe I had to say my name twice to you! Well, I'm afraid that without any context, my brain didn't process your name into its long-term memory banks, so frickin' sue me. What an asshole.

Another crab apple in the store gave me just the filthiest look when I rolled my cart by him as he was sitting in a chair trying to read. The cart has a shitty wheel and it was making a loud squeaking sound as I pushed it to the back room, and just this disapproving "how DARE you!" attitude was streaming out of his eyes. Guess what, fuckface? This isn't a library and it isn't your private study hall either. And you can be sure I purposely didn't oil this cart's wheel just to piss you the hell off.

A woman asked me about a book that lives in the health section, so after I looked it up and told her we would be going to the HEALTH SECTION, I pointed at it so she would know where we'd be going. I do this because my customers have this insatiable tendency to follow me very closely. Because, you see, there is no way to go straight to the health section. I have to come out of the desk first. They always try to follow me as I'm coming out of the desk. So I try to stop this from happening by pointing.

This is better illustrated with a little diagram.

[dumb customer]

Now, if you look at that picture you can see that if I go out Exit 1, the customer will follow me away from the health section and then when I round the corner of the desk she will almost bump into me. If I go out Exit 2, she will come around the desk trying to go to the back of the store, and then get surprised when I turn around to go back toward the front and the health section. No matter what, I'm running into an idiot. So. I point.

This time it did not work. I pointed at Health. The lady LOOKED in the direction. But then I came out Exit 2 and there she was scooting her bottom the wrong way as fast as fast can be.

I guess next time I will climb over the desk or phase through it, since even with pointing I can't seem to get across to customers that I am talking about going to a place that is at the FRONT.

Oh, and this is a guest Stupid. Some moron came up to one of my co-workers and pointed out that there was a 20% off sticker on the book, and then opened the book to show the price on the hardcover's dust jacket, asking whether that 20% off was off THAT price or whether the price printed on the dust jacket was the price with the 20% figured in already.

Yup. They really are that stupid.

I'm so sure that the manufacturer produced the book with a retail price printed inside it that coincides with bookstores' mercurial sales. That's right, they knew it'd be 20% off at all stores for always, so they went ahead and made it part of the book! Whatever.

At the register I asked a lady if she wanted a bag and she replied, "Yes. Or, do you have a SHOPPING bag?" Well, in my little world all the bags that we have are for . . . shopping? . . . so I asked her what she meant by shopping bag. That's not in my vocabulary. With a hideous confused look on her face, she replied, "Well, a SHOPPING bag." Yes, because when we repeat ourselves then suddenly people figure out what we mean. "I don't know what a shopping bag is," I said, "or rather, I don't see how these bags are not shopping bags. They're all for shopping." The lady looked even more confounded and explained that sometimes she goes to other stores and if she buys a lot they give her a SHOPPING bag. At this point wouldn't you think that if I had anything else to offer her I'd suggest that perhaps this other item was what she wanted? I only have the big plastic bags, lady. I suspected that perhaps what she was talking about was a local or regional slang for a big paper bag, but not only do we not have those; I wanted her to explain it to me. Come on lady, verbalize! Speak! Put it into words for the dumb little register jockey! She never did get it though. She settled for the plastic bag after giving me a couple more odd looks.

A lady handed me her debit card (which we only have the option to run as credit, not that it matters) and then after the transaction had already gone through she goes, "Could I get a little more?" I asked her a little more what. "Well if you haven't already put it through, I would like to get a little more." I asked if she meant wanting to add something to the sale, because I could just do another transaction right after this one. "No, I mean, I want CASH BACK." I told her we don't do that here. I did think that was a mighty weird way to say you want cash back though. "Can I get a little more?"


The theme of today was people walking away from me while I was still trying to help them. The most annoying was this couple who asked for a popular book and it wasn't on the shelf where it would have been if we had any. Knowing it was popular, I told the couple we should check a couple feature spots, which for this book included the bestsellers, the new releases, and an endcap that was featuring books on the subject. They followed me up to the front but as I was checking these features I could tell they had that sour attitude of "why doesn't she know if she HAS it??" Because I was having to check several places for it I think they thought I was wandering aimlessly, and when I told them I was going to go check that endcap, they just glanced at me and didn't say anything and walked away toward the register to buy the stuff they had managed to find. Well, sorry our books don't have homing signals, you jerks. The company thinks that putting a popular book in several spots will help it sell more, and I can't tell by the computer how many are supposed to be where (and you KNOW if I could, people would still move them). So, you're welcome, buttholes!!

And then there was this other dim woman who figured that because she could see her book behind the desk, I would automatically see it too if she pointed at it. "I'm here to pick up that book. THAT one," she said, gesturing. "Second shelf down." Our customer service shelves are divided up so that there are actually five shelves that are "second shelf down." I told her to just give me her name, and I think she was so focused on getting me to see it that she didn't even understand that this "give me your name" would be the easiest way for me to find it. She pointed more exactly and cried, "Right THERE!" Well let me just follow your finger carefully with a ribbon and see which shelf you're talking about. OR . . . OR!!! . . . you could give me your name and I could find the book like I do for everyone else who didn't happen to spot their book from the other side of the counter.

A girl who was probably just shy of her teens came up to the counter with a guy who was probably her dad, but then he did that thing where he's trying to teach the kid to be independent and respectfully stood back while she approached the desk to do her business. Unfortunately they had mistaken the customer service desk for the place you pay for your books, and when I asked the girl if I could help her she's like, "Yes . . . I want to check out." I told her this desk doesn't do checkout, at which point helpful Daddy came over and informed her, "No, no . . . PURCHASE. They don't do checkout, it's not a library--tell her you want to PURCHASE IT." The girl dutifully changed her wording. No, actually, the problem isn't that I have a problem with your phrasing--actually our sign even says "Checkout." But it's over there on the other side of the store. YOU CAN'T CHECK OUT OR PURCHASE HERE. Sorry.


I'm mean.

Okay, so then this older lady came up to me and insisted that there was a box set of Dr. Seuss books she'd seen, and I couldn't even find it in the computer (and certainly hadn't ever seen it in my store), so she gave up and asked if I had the Dr. Seuss book Are You My Mother? I told her I did and that the reason she hadn't found it with Dr. Seuss is that it isn't by Dr. Seuss. It's by P.D. Eastman. Lots of people have that problem because it is actually released by Dr. Seuss's company--he and Eastman were contemporaries, and lots of Eastman's books came out under the Cat In the Hat label (though if you ask the lady from 10/29/03 about that, I bet she still thinks Eastman is one of Dr. Seuss's pen names).

I explained this thoroughly to her but she kept saying, "Well, I could have SWORN it was by Dr. Seuss." (I couldn't show her yet because I was still looking for her stupid box set on the computer.) Finally I got to go to Storybooks and show her the Eastman books, at which point she began saying, "Well, I could have SWORN it was by him--why did I THINK that?" It's simple, lady! His books have a Cat in the Hat on them! That's Dr. Seuss's character! There are probably a lot of bookstores less backwards than ours that actually put them together! Anyway, I ended up having to actually do her transaction at the register, and she started babbling about how these books were for her pregnant daughter and that she was going to read to the baby in the womb. I mentioned offhandedly that there was actually a book DESIGNED to be read to babies in the womb and that it was a Dr. Seuss book. It was derived from Oh, the Places You'll Go! and is called Oh, Baby, the Places You'll Go! "Now WHY didn't I SEE that?" she asked. Because you're a blind dumbass. Next!


I had a lady in the kids' section who was pretty nice, but I think she started out talking to me assuming I didn't know jack shit. She opened by asking me if the children's picture books were in alphabetical order, and since we don't have a section called "Children's Picture Books" and picture books could be over half of the section, I asked her to be more specific about the section she was looking for. "I just want to KNOW," she said, "if the PICTURE BOOKS are in ALPHABETICAL ORDER." Well, if you're not going to listen to me, I'm gonna make you feel stupid. I went on to explain to her how many different sections of picture books we had and how it depends on what she's looking for because, well, the picture books in the Nickelodeon section are grouped together by character since a bajillion different authors write those, and the same thing with certain favorite characters being grouped together like Barbie and Disney, and then there's the baby books and the storybooks that are both by author. Now, WHAT are you looking for so I can tell you which section you want? I ended up getting her to see the order (which bothered me because she said she used to be a media specialist for a kids' library--come on, you should be able to see the order here!), and then we started talking about books for kids and she wanted to know what I like to read in adult books. I told her mostly my tastes run toward the speculative fiction, but that I sometimes even read certain teen books. She told me that made sense since I was in that age group myself. Hahaha. I turned twenty-eight last month and people still think I'm a teenager. Captain insaneo.

Random drive-by dumbing: A lady came up and asked for "the nonfiction section." See those shelves labeled "Fiction" up there? Well, if you want nonfiction, that's the rest of the store. If you want to narrow it down to a subject, we might actually be able to point you in a direction, though. . . .

A girl was asking me for help with school reading books, and after I looked up her first one, I asked if that was all she was looking for. "Yes," she replied. Then, immediately after that, "I'm also looking for. . . . " ::facepalm:: I wonder if these people are even listening to themselves. My guess is no.


I hate stupid customers, but let's start today's log with something I love.


My manager told me today that she spoke to someone on the phone in our company's tech help about difficulties with a customer's gift card, and when she gave our store number to the girl she asked my manager if we were the store with that employee who keeps the cool weblog. "Yeah, that's right," my manager told her--I guess everybody knows about it!--and the girl said all about how she loves this log and reads it all the time and so do a bunch of other people in I think she said the IT department. The girl said to tell me she likes my stuff, so chances are, she is also reading this. Well, from me to the people who deal with dumb customers at all levels of retail and customer service, thank you for reading, and I love you too. :) WE REMAIN UNITED AGAINST STUPIDITY!!!

Though that does make me wonder how many people on how many levels of this company and others know about this log, and when the wrong person with no sense of humor is going to get hold of it and fire me for it. Gulp.

A girl came to pick up a book that had been pulled for her friend--I guess the friend called and had it put on hold, and sent this girl to get it--and when I gave it to her she looked at it like it was a snake and claimed that wasn't the title her friend had told her to get. Okay. "Just a second," she said, and she called her friend on her cell phone. A few minutes later she had confirmed that actually she was incorrect and that WAS the right book, and did that thing where she held the phone away from her mouth to tell me "That's it!" before going back to her conversation. Then she did that a few more times while talking to her friend, putting her purse on the counter, shoving the book closer each time without looking at me, prompting me "that's it, that's it." Obviously she expected me to ring her up at the customer service desk--not possible--but how can I tell her she's in the wrong place if she's busy babbling to her friend? Which is rude anyway. I don't have a cell phone, but if I ever get one I won't have it ring in public places and I won't answer it if I'm in the middle of something with someone, and if I am already in the middle of a phone call I will not start any interaction with anyone else while I'm on the phone. I'm not part of a machine--treat me like a person. (Yes, I got to tell her to go somewhere else once she got off the phone and told me that was the right book again, like I didn't get that and was too dense to realize that she wanted to be rung up already.)

This was just goofy. A woman came up to me to tell me that she'd ordered a book "A few weeks, maybe a month ago" and that we'd called her but she'd never managed to come in to get it; would we still have it? After warning her that normally we'll send the book back after two to three weeks if it's unclaimed, I agreed to check anyway and her book indeed was not there. "Well so what now, you returned it to the shelf?" she asked, and I explained that no, if she had to special order it in the first place it isn't something we just stick on the shelf; we send it back where it came from. She didn't understand that so I went into better detail, explaining that it is ordained from above what we carry in the store and if a customer wants something that ISN'T carried in the store we can order it but if they don't buy it it gets sent back to maintain the intended inventory.

From there she started hemming and hawing about what the book was because it had been so long since she ordered it that she couldn't remember, but I told her never fear, customer service computer to the rescue, and pulled up her last order by phone number. I had to do a double-take when I saw the date of the order. "This was ordered back in December," I said, thinking that was more than a few weeks. That was a lot more than a month ago. "Yeah, well, I was trying to get it for a Christmas gift," she said. It had been ordered on the 21st. Yeah. And we'd called her January 7th. There was even a note saying they'd sent it back a couple weeks back. I re-ordered it.

A man at the register bought a few cards and a magazine, and then about six or seven hardcover gift books that were $12.95 each. When I told him his total it was in the eighties, let's say $83.75, and he was holding a credit card and said, "Thirty?" "No, eighty-three seventy-five," I repeated, and he replied again, "Thirty?" NO NOT THIRTY. He seemed dismayed by the price and glanced through his purchases again. Dude, buying five of those little gift books is over sixty dollars just by themselves, and you have other shit too. It's just not going to be thirty dollars. I wish people who don't want to spend a lot of money would look at the prices of their items before acting like we raped them at the register.


I helped this nutbag of a woman after my manager sent her to me. Apparently she'd specifically asked for "someone who knows kids' books," so I was doomed from the beginning, being the obvious authority in the store. So, up she came, requesting books featuring dragons for a boy who was turning eight or something.

I showed the lady a few things that I had thought of off the top of my head, but she kept rejecting them for no apparent reason and couldn't seem to express why this wasn't right, so I took a stab at it and asked if she was hoping for a *story* that featured dragons or if she wanted something more nonfiction about their myths. (I'd been showing her myth books. There are several right there in the section.) She told me she wanted to see stories (and said she was already aware of Eragon--UGH!, and for an eight-year-old? UGH again!), so I showed her a couple that I remembered, and then made my first "mistake."

This takes a short explanation. Around November of last year I started to notice that a) My co-workers, even some of the ones who had gotten a guided tour of Kids', still did not know where to take customers to shop for specific subjects; and b) I was repeatedly being sent customers who had questions about kids' books before the other associates even attempted to help them. Wondering what the HELL they do about kids' questions when it is closing shift or my days off, I concluded that probably what happens is nobody *can* help them, so I dedicated some serious time and effort to making a kids' book guide.

I imitated the company's "gift guide" style and made a little spiral-bound book with a laminated cover, with lists inside of all the best books to recommend for kids who like animals, best books for boys or girls, the best classics, blah blah blah, divided up by age. It's a really handy little reference if you don't know much about kids' books, and it tells you stuff you couldn't find out just by looking in the computer--it's kind of a little miniature kids' specialist. Anyway, the main point of this is, I knew I had created a short list of books that feature dragons, so I took out my little book to see which ones I was forgetting.

Immediately upon seeing that I had a list, the woman took my book from me and began seriously attempting to take control of the interaction instead of letting me do my job. There were four books I hadn't shown her in Kids' Fiction, and one of them the kid had, one of them I was out of, and two of them were hardcover (which she didn't want; she wanted a cheaper gift). After we got to the end of that list, she kept GOING BACK up the list and pointing to titles and saying, "And what about THIS one? And this one?" Lady, there were only four books. Your memory can't be that bad, can it? We discussed all four of them and now the search has resulted in nothing so you decide to ask about each of them again to see if the answer's changed in the last minute? Even the one she was already familiar with she asked me about again, and I had to show her twice that we only had hardbacks of the last two and confirm three times that we were out of the one that wasn't there.

Then there were two series books listed, and one was called Dragon Boosters. I showed it to her and I think she didn't like it because it looked sort of like it was based on a TV show (probably), but then of course right next to it--since the series section is organized by name of series--there was Dragon Chronicles. And for some reason my company has seen fit to only give me volumes 5 and 6 of it, and--get this--number 11 only of another series, Dragon Slayers' Academy. Well, that's why they're not ones I recommend; it looks like we've only got the latest ones for the people who have been keeping up with the series all along, if you want to get the first book you have to order it. That's kind of stupid, but it's how they work. And I got a lecture from this lady about how that isn't very smart to do, as if carrying only later volumes was some bright idea of mine that she thought she could change by explaining to me how it made no sense. After she was done lecturing me about it, she immediately began again at her first point and gave me the same lecture, throwing in points about how if I would just carry the first one in either of the series then, you know, she could GET it, and find out if the kid LIKED it. Well, yeah, that's the point. I told her probably six different times that a) Yes it's dumb and b) I have no control over what they send me for my shelves but can always order anything. Of course that is unacceptable, though.

To add to the nutbaggery, the lady decided that she wanted to write these series titles down so she could check elsewhere for them, and she put the stack of other books she was carrying on the floor, put her purse down, and started rummaging. She found a pen but told me she didn't have any paper, so I gave her a piece from a notebook, and she bent right over and placed it on the floor and tried to write. THE CARPETED FLOOR. Immediately, of course, her pen went through the paper as she tried to write. And she did that again and again. Four times or so she poked a hole through the page as she wrote. Now, she had a stack of books sitting right beside where she was writing that she could have used as a hard surface, and then I guess if she had some pathological fear that her writing would be indelibly scratched onto a book cover she could have placed it on the bookshelf right in front of her and written. But as you can see from this entry, common sense was not her strong point.

From there I finally escaped as she said she would examine her choices, and I went in the back and mentioned to my boss that the person she'd sent me was a nut. "You were with her ALL THAT TIME?" she asked, and I was like, "Yup." She apologized for sending her to me. I didn't really care, because honestly nobody else in the store could have helped the way I did and probably would have ended up getting harassed even longer. . . .

Now onto the next type of customer: Our stampede of pervs.

First of all, our cashier had some guy come up to her, and she described him as looking like he was probably homeless but with a job, like he had enough money to eat and clothe himself but nowhere to live. He looked like he was hanging around her for no reason so she asked him if he was looking for anything, and he said, "Yeah, I'm looking for a beautiful woman who I can win an argument with."

She told him he wasn't going to find that here.

I hope he understood that she was referring to the argument part.

And then our other pervalope struck twice: Once at Customer Service and once at the cash register (same cashier!). This dude was an overweight old man in a leg cast, and he first approached the service desk with a pile of books and did that lovely customer thing where they shove the books at you and expect you to start ringing them up. Our C/S associate came up to him and asked him if there was anything she could help him with, and when he said he wanted to buy the stuff she apologized and told him he was in the wrong place for that, but that she could help him with customer service questions. "You're just determined to help me in some way today, huh?" he commented, and she said she tries to be helpful, ya know, that's her job. "Well, honey, I'll tell you one thing," he said, "the thing you can help me with ain't gonna happen in this bookstore."


And of course she's one of those people who blushes really easy, and turned about the color of a beet as he walked away.

Then he hit the register and said some nasty things to our cashier about how he's a big guy, "Probably too big for YOU to handle," and I mean she's married with kids and stuff too, and I guess she was still trying to be polite to him because she dealt with him with a strained smile on her face and he's like, "So why are YOU smiling??" Gross old man.

Now just a couple run-of-the-mill Stupids. One guy at the register did a return/exchange and when I asked him "Do you want the receipt with you or in your bag?" he pointed to the bag, and as I reached to put it in the bag he held out his hand expectantly. Hey, that was an either/or question, you can't have both. If you changed your mind, just say so instead of acting like you told me what to do and I did the wrong thing. Then on his return slip I handed it to him and told him to sign it "on the top line," and as is often the case with stupid people his pen drifted to the top of the receipt (where there ARE no lines), so I pointed to the top LINE of the three at the bottom (the other two are for cashier and manager), and still he goes, "Where do I sign?" ::sigh::

And some bitch from the store next to us came in and threw a hissy fit because some communal discount that her and her co-workers use here wasn't immediately accessible. Apparently one woman who works there bought a discount card, then left the keychain part of the card at the café where it is taped to the side of the monitor for all the employees to use for discounts on their drinks. Obviously that's not official, but if some girl wants to buy a discount card and then keep giving the discount to her friends it's not like we could stop her, so whatever. Thing is, she didn't come to the café (where they know her and all the regulars); she came to the cash register to buy books, and on bookside we don't know anything about some random communal discount. After raising a stink as if we were trying to deny it to her rather than, you know, trying to FIND THE NUMBER in the computer, our friendly cashier (the one who got hit on twice) told the lady that she likes the store she works at and wonders if there is some way we over here can get a nice discount deal at THEIR store since we have one for them. The lady made this face like "what the hell are you talking about, scum?" and told her that NO, there wouldn't be any discount for US. Yeah, 'cause your shitty clothing and housewares store is higher on the food chain than our lowly bookstore, huh?


Whee, it's "we're bad at customer service" day!

A cashier and I were having a conversation when a man came to check out. She greeted him like usual and started ringing him up, but then she just resumed talking to me while the customer was up there. Usually it's "just not done" that employees chat to each other while waiting on customers, and it looked like it was ticking this guy off that she was just going on about an acquaintance of hers and weight problems. At the end of the sale, the old man bent down to the cashier's level and leaned on the desk, and started chastising her about her customer service skills. He went on for a while about how he doesn't want to hear her conversation with another employee and that she needs to learn some customer service skills. I saw where he was coming from--I'm sure it's in the unwritten rules of customer service that you don't greet a customer and then say, "So ANYWAY" and keep going--but the way this guy made known his opinion was quite repugnant. I'm just glad he bitched her out to her face and left it at that instead of asking to speak to her manager.

And then I sort of got a dose of this. A woman called and said she'd pre-ordered a book in early January and never gotten a call even though she paid for it and everything. This immediately caused warning bells in my head because we don't take pre-payment for anything that hasn't come in yet unless we're sending it to your house, in which case there's no calling supposed to happen. After going a little further into the conversation, I discovered she was talking about the new Stephen King book, which indeed you could have pre-purchased, received a voucher, and come to pick up after the release date listed on the ticket.

Except this lady had the perception we were supposed to CALL her, and we weren't.

We figure that anyone who's a big enough Stephen King fan to want to come in, reserve a copy, and pay for it before it's even here does NOT need to be called to say "hey, it's that release date for that book you're excited about--we decided to remind you even though it's printed on the ticket you bought."

I told her that we let people pre-purchase popular books from Stephen King to Harry Potter but we aren't supposed to call you. This is when she jumped down my throat and told me "Well they SAID they'd call me, I am NOT making this up, so I'd say your customer service skills aren't very good." At that point I wasn't sure if she was talking about "your" collectively, like she was blaming our company for saying we'll call and then not doing it and acting like we never said that, or if it was personal toward me trying to say that my attempt to explain how things work around here is calling her "wrong" when the customer is always right. Whatever.

Either way I felt like she was being unnecessarily insulting, but after also listening to her claim that she never GOT a voucher of any kind, just a receipt and an assurance that we would call her, I told her my manager would talk to her. When the manager picked up, the lady changed her story a bunch, but eventually she was back to the whole "Well nobody ever called me, they SAID they'd call me, blah blah," and my manager told her (just like I had) that we take your phone number so we can track your voucher and whether it's been redeemed, not because we're going to call you. After calming her down by saying her purchase of the voucher ahead of time guaranteed her the low price it was released at instead of what it might rise to later, the lady was satisfied to just come in with her receipt (and thankfully I didn't see her), but anyone who tells me my customer service skills need work because I presume to tell her how things work around here can kiss my ass, and that's my customer service.

Some annoying lady bought her shit and then left her shopping cart square in the middle of the checkout path. It was exactly as if you bought a few things at the grocery store, took your junk out, and left the grocery cart in the checkout aisle; someone would have had to move the cart to get in to check out. And yet the woman walked past the place where you put the carts back. C'mon lady. Are you TRYING to make the most possible work for us so that our jobs will be guaranteed? Gee thank you! Eternally grateful over here!

On to one more for fun: A lady asked me to find a book for her and she was one of those people who seems very prissy about not wanting to follow me to the section: "No that's all right dear, I'll stay right here and you go get it." Fetch girl! Arf! So I went and checked on the shelf and the book wasn't there so I came back empty-handed. She hollered at me from across the store, "I DON'T SEE IT IN YOUR HAND!" Yeah, because it's up my ass. I explained that the computer tells us if we carry something but can't be relied upon to tell us if we physically have it. She asked me to call the other store and check and see if they have it. "But tell them to check and make sure they have it," she advised me. Yes, because I frequently call the other store and ask them about books and send people over to get them if they haven't checked the shelf and put one aside. Yeah, lady, I already know they carry it, because we carry it. Believe me, I'll have them check. (No, they didn't have it either.)


There is no way to explain in print exactly how annoying this was in person. But I'm going to try valiantly, for you, the people.

A woman called and told me her story: She had purchased a book from one of our bargain tables, and it had turned out to be full of wonderful information she wanted to share with others, so she wanted to know if we had more. I explained that the sale books aren't in our inventory list and are often out of print, so the only thing for me to do would be to look for the book on the table. I proceeded to go to the specific section of the store that she'd gotten the sale book from and started looking for a book with that title.

But then came THE most in-depth description of a book I have ever experienced.

This woman took almost two full minutes to explain the looks of this book in every possible aspect. If it had committed a crime, the book's police sketch would have been highly detailed and quite accurate. First she described the multicolored cover, giving me details on the colors and order of the colors in a series of stripes on the front, and an explanation of where on the front cover the words of the title were placed in reference to what colors. I got a description of its spine and its size and how thick it was. This babbling about the looks of the book went on for the entire time I searched the table, and when I was done giving the table an unsuccessful once-over, she was still describing the book. When I told her I had not found it in my first pass through but was going to try going through again, she thanked me and started babbling about what the book was about.

Apparently it was a self-help book that had had some wonderful information in it which helped her to understand one of her troubled relatives for the first time in her life. She wanted a copy for the relative and a couple other people in her life, and then she started rambling about the actual content of the book, going into detail about neurotransmitters. I'm not shitting you. Now honestly, I understand neurotransmitters and psychology both normal and abnormal--I have a minor in psychology actually. I don't really need a pop psych explanation of the situation from a book or a customer who's gushing about a book. But regardless, I let her ramble until I found a place to break in and try to steer the conversation toward either helping her further or hanging up.

I found listings for the book in my out of print search. The lady did not want to do an out of print order because it would require her to give her credit card number to a third party and she didn't trust the system. So instead of realizing that that should be the end of our interaction, she instead began to babble about the book's helpfulness, and started telling me what sorts of people it could help and telling me that she was giving me all this information because in my important position as a bookseller I can connect people with this valuable information if they tell me they're looking for books on that.

It sounds like a great marketing strategy to recommend a book that's out of print that we can't even order. Good idea! I'm sure I'll help tons of people.

Now this lady's heart was in the right place, but when she began to ramble yet again about the usefulness and wonderfulness of the book and how she'd come upon her copy and how she'd only found one and what are the chances the other store would have one and oh I don't trust the Internet and you know it's not that old of a book so it's weird that it's out of print already and oh there's an ordering phone number in the book let me give that to you so you can help people . . . I began to get quite irritated. Twice while I was listening to her talk, I had a customer walk up, wait, get disgusted at the waiting, and walk away. TWICE. And I have a sneaking suspicion that both thought I was on a personal phone call because I wasn't saying much and I wasn't like typing on a computer as if I was assisting someone. The lady kept thanking me for "giving her so much of my time," but I was thinking, I'm not giving it, lady--you're taking it! Soon enough one of my managers was at the desk watching me bang my head against the computer screen (yes, I really did do this), and I wanted to put her on speaker phone because her rambling would have been funnier if I could share with others how rambly she was, but I decided not to click it on, and she actually shut up shortly after that.

I think she probably beats my previous Ramble Record, if I'd kept such a thing. A couple other customer calls have gone longer, but only if it's a subject we connect on and I'm contributing. This lady was just unstoppable. I really wished at the time that I had a transcript of how she described that book, the amazing detail. It was truly one of the funnier things I've experienced.

Besides Ramble Lady, I had several other unpleasant experiences today. For example, I kept having strange messes erupt in my kids' section. Repeatedly, books kept being scattered all over--literally as if someone had grabbed a few books and THROWN them in the air and run away--in approximately the same stretch of rug. I must have picked up crap that was all over that space six different times today. But there was some child somewhere in the store that day who was scattering merchandise throughout more of Kids' than just that part. It was always merchandise that was from the bottom couple shelves, and it seemed that Hello Kitty was one of its favorites. Now, I picked up three or four different books and two stuffed animals that had this same problem: THEY WERE WET. Wet. I don't know with what. I don't want to know. But I do want to know where this kid's frickin' mom is.

Annoyingly enough, I later caught a child in the act of doing this. She was begging and begging Grandma to buy her a Disney princess movie player thing (it's this gimmicky thing that has slides from the movie put into a little gizmo that projects shit on to the wall, and it comes with a book you read). Grandma kept saying no and the kid kept begging. Finally the kid just dropped the product on the ground and followed Grandma away. They kept coming back like they weren't done shopping, so I thought perhaps somewhere in there they would put the tossed-aside book away. Of course, they didn't. Now in what universe is it okay to beg for a book and then when denied just drop it on the floor and walk away? How did Grandma allow this to happen? They're customers, I'm sure is the justification floating through their heads. They're gods, they're untouchable. Can do no wrong. Go ahead, treat stuff that isn't yours like crap. No one will say anything to you. You'll get away with it because they have people to pick things like that up. No reason to actually behave like a civil creature.

Well, there is the down side that you get written up in some bookstore girl's Web site, but that's a small price to pay for being allowed to act like an animal, right?


I dealt with a guy who was the usual kind of indecisive/ignorant about how ordering books works ("Oh, you can't even order it? So that means you don't have any in stock either? Durrr!"), but then he asked me for something I hadn't heard of and I had a sneaking suspicion from its title that it wasn't even a book. So just to kind of make him tell me that without acting like I was suspecting he was stupid, I asked him for the author, and he gave me A WEB SITE. Okay. I asked him what that Web site was and he said, "I think that's the ONLY place you can order it." Confused, I told him we didn't even have Internet access for the store, and couldn't order him something from some Web site, at which point he asked me if we had anything "for" a particular gizmo. I hazarded a guess: "Are you talking about SOFTWARE?" Yes, he was. We don't sell software. Just books. C'mon guys. I think the part that floored me the most was the whole giving me an exclusive Web address as if I was going to place the order for him. Why not go to the Web site and order it yourself if you know that's the only place that sells it?

At the register a lady was buying a discount card and when I was writing the date for the first time that day I had to think for a moment about what the date was. "Hmm, is it the third? No, it's the FOURTH," I said aloud after glancing at the computer, and bent to write it on the discount card. "Yes, it's the fourth," agreed my customer, and then as I was about to write the year, she goes, "Oh-Six." Yes, I know what year it is. I know I look a little weird, but I'm not a time traveler. Thank you.

And I had another one of those regular people who refuses to think about what my question might mean (you know, like I might be asking for more information for a PURPOSE); she asked me for "baby books" and I asked her to be more specific, and she said, "You know, books for a NEWBORN??" That still could be baby memory books, books about being pregnant or taking care of a baby, OR books for the babies to gum until they can read. It never fails; everyone who asks this question refuses to imagine that "baby books" could be an imprecise term. This one wanted memory books. Ho-hum.

There was some incident with someone trying to spell something for me again, but I can't remember the specifics because I kept getting interrupted when I was writing my note to myself, so all I remember is that the last Stupid file had something to do with spelling. Maybe I'll remember it later.


A lady asked me for SAT books for her kid, and as I was taking her back to Test Prep she asked me, "Do the books have the answers in the back for the momma?" Er . . . yes, books that help you practice for the SAT generally have solutions. When I told her so, she burst out in a loud voice, "Oh, BLESS THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS!!" I guess it was the Savior who decided to be practical and assist you with your child's standardized tests, lady. . . .

I think this was probably a case of this lady just not thinking about what she was saying. As she rattled off her information, she would say a clump of it and then always spell something she'd said. And it would never be the part that most needed to be spelled. For example, she said, "The title is 'Into the Light,' I-N-T-O the light." Then "And the authors are Dave and Jaja Martin, M-A-R-T-I-N." I can tell you right now that the way she said "Jaja" I would have thought it was spelled "Zsa Zsa" because that's the most famous spelling of a name that sounds like that, but no, she spelled MARTIN and not JAJA. And "into"? Why the hell would she think she needed to spell "into"?

And I had an aggravating lady at the register. She had two Barbie books and they were both labeled with a "BUY 1 GET 1 FREE!" sticker and as she handed them to me she informed me that they were buy 1 get 1 free, which I knew. That wasn't the part that bothered me, though. I rang up the two books and explained to her (since they always jump down my throat if I don't) that both books would show up on her receipt (for inventory purposes, you know, so I can get more of the ones purchased) but then one would show with a 100% discount. As I was putting the discount on the second book she started shoving the rest of her stuff at me and, sounding panicked, yelled, "WAIT, there's MORE, I have MORE!" I see that. Normally people don't put a stack of stuff down on my counter and give no explanation if they don't want to buy it all. I guess she made some random assumption that because I was making clicking noises with the mouse I must be ending her transaction rather than, you know, doing what I said I was doing (putting the discount on her free book).

Then she just continued to be a nut the entire time. She decided to get a discount card and so I asked for her phone number, and then I asked for her name. She said it would be easier to just give me her credit card and let me copy it off of there, so I said fine. She gave me the card and I typed her name in. AFTER I WAS DONE suddenly she just started with "My name is . . . " and spelled both the first and the last name! What the hell? Did she not just ask me to copy it off the card? Did she not realize that I was actually going to do it and had in fact already done so? I don't remember what else she did, but after that she just kept asking every dumb question in the book and took forever to gather her shit up and when she left she asked if the out door was unlocked. If it says EXIT above it and doesn't have a sign on it proclaiming that it's a fire exit with a warning that ALARM WILL SOUND and it's, oh, right by the cash register, it's usually going to be safe to use it. If you push on it and it won't budge, maybe then ask what the hell is up. I don't know, I just get annoyed with people who ask questions before they bother to think, when thinking would easily yield the answer. It's like they're worried they're going to spend brain cells if they think too much.

When I was on break, my manager took over answering the phone. When I came back, I claimed the phone again. Shortly after I got off break, some woman came in and asked me for books on real estate, so I took her back to the real estate section. Then she revealed that she wasn't actually looking for books on real estate so much as she was looking for books on how to pass the test a wannabe real estate agent has to take. So I took her to Test Prep. AND THEN she revealed that she wasn't just looking for ANY test book; it was a particular one that had flash cards in it that someone had told her to get. We only had a couple books and none of them had flash cards, so she rephrased her question and asked me for the one with the flash cards again. (They like to do that. If I don't have something and I say so definitively, they think that means "she doesn't understand what I want--let me say it again.") So, after telling her that it would be helpful for her to get the title of the item she wanted and then call us to see if we could order it, she left, seemingly satisfied enough. But on my way back to the desk, I passed my manager, who was looking pissed.

"I have a QUESTION for HER," she hissed at me in a whisper. "What *I* want to know is why you would call a bookstore, ask for the flash cards, and then come in anyway AFTER I tell you we don't have flash cards?" Turned out the lady had called while I was on break and asked that same question, being handled by my manager, only to come in to ask someone else. I told my manager that if you're answering the phone, you're automatically stupid, and nothing you say (except for "Yes ma'am, we have it, I'll hold it for you!") is to be believed.

On to March!