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

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Okay, so I got called to the register to supervise an exchange, and when I got there the woman who wanted to do the exchange wasn't there. My cashier told me she'd gone shopping to get what she was going to exchange the item for, but that she'd said she was running right back there and running right back up again--she'd be back in a matter of moments.

Moments turned into minutes, and I had to pee, so I left, did my business, and returned. She STILL hadn't been back, so I told the cashier to call me when she was ready, I wasn't going to stand there and wait on her ass. A while later I was called, and the lady apparently thought she didn't have to stand in line, that she could come to the side and just have us switch them out. Nope, they're different items; I have to do a process through the register.

I explained this to her and she continued to stand at the side of the register, which of course made the customers who were actually in line think that the position was open. My cashier explained to the man in line that we were now doing a return for this woman (even though she was standing off to the side), and after a few exchanges back and forth he actually processed what she said and said, "So in other words, this is the only one open." (He'd been thinking she was directing him to check out somewhere else, unable to comprehend that it wasn't his turn yet.) So exchange lady is standing there and I'm trying to start her transaction when she spots an old friend unexpectedly and starts GABBING! Okay, lady, I need to ask you for your discount card and ask you for some information, and meanwhile she's telling this lady "Oh, yeah, I'm just doing a return--just waiting to sign something." Actually it would really be nice if you'd give US control of this transaction--it'd go a lot quicker if you'd stop insisting you know how this works, because you don't. My cashier was able to ring up another customer before I was able to get her to cooperate with me.

And apparently it is the week for random customer complaints. I heard about these from others, though I didn't witness them personally.

The first was typical; someone was disturbed by the fact that there were sexual gifts (such as a book of "I O U SEX" coupons) on the Valentine's Day table, and demanded we take the offending books off the display. They're actually called for by the company. But we did what she wanted anyway. Heh.

The other was funnier. We have Yu-Gi-Oh! League on Saturdays and they usually crowd up the area by the magazines at the back of the store since it's the biggest stretch of floor we have that isn't directly in any walkway. The kids spread, though, and they got in a shopper's way as she tried to shop for magazines.

This earned us a complaint as the woman told our manager she could not reach what she wanted because of kids in the way. Our manager immediately instructed the kids to move and cleared the way for the woman, but she was not satisfied and whined that her shopping experience had been ruined. She demanded to know why we'd had the bad judgment to hold this kind of event, to which our manager replied that it is a company-sanctioned event that all our stores do, not our own stupid idea. The customer countered by saying that she knows that is NOT true because SHE lives in Birmingham where our company is based and they do NOT have that there, and furthermore (all of a sudden) she is part of the family who OWNS the store chain and she knows no one ever sanctioned such a thing. (Wow. Um, it's printed on our event signs that say the store's name on them if you want proof, lady!) And to top it all off, after that she started cussing the manager out, spurned all the apologies the manager gave her by claiming her shopping experience was ruined, and left the store. Ohhhhhhkay. Compulsive liar, schizophrenic, and antisocial personality disorder, anyone? Did you forget your pill this morning?


My favorite for today was a woman who came into the bathroom just as I was finishing my three o'clock cleaning, bringing along her young son. When I saw she was aiming for the handicapped stall, I warned her that it had no paper; that I was about to go get some and replace the roll. "No, that's okay, he's just going to pee," she said, and I went and got the roll as they did their business. When I came back in the woman poked her head out and said, "Um, excuse me . . . do you want us to flush?" Dumbfounded, I just kind of said, "Um, WHAT?" and she repeated her question and added, "Because, you know, since you're about to clean?"

Okay. Please, can someone give me some help here? I've been racking my brain but I cannot come up with a way that this makes sense. Why, regardless of whether I'm cleaning the bathroom, WOULDN'T I want her to flush? No, I prefer my toilets UNflushed when I'm cleaning the bathroom. No, I was planning on fishing out your son's pee with a special instrument. No, I am a more competent toilet flusher and I would rather you leave it to the professionals. WHAT could she have been thinking?

Hey, remember the dude from earlier this month (1/3/06) who wanted books by the editors of Playboy that pictured girls of particular hair colors in each special volume? He came back and ordered the two he didn't buy that day (blondes and redheads), and guess what? Those weren't made in a larger size either.

And I forgot to mention this one from yesterday. This one guy came in to return an apparently defective book light. He explained that he and his friend had both bought one, and hers worked but his did not. Normally with something like this it occurs to us to test the product and verify its brokenness before we replace it, but I didn't think anything of it considering he'd had a friend with him whose light worked and his didn't--couldn't be a case of not being able to find the on switch, could it? So I did his return and replaced his light with one of the same, at which point he asked if he could open the package and make sure this one worked. I told him that was fine, but he just kind of stood there and didn't make any move to open it, so I figured out he wanted ME to do it and pulled out my scissors. I chopped the top off the package, opened it, pulled out a little plastic thing that exists to ensure that you're the first one to use it (and therefore it has all its juice), and lo and behold, it worked.

After the guy took his package and happily went to browse other gifts, I got a very sure feeling that he hadn't taken the plastic thing out of his supposedly broken one--that it wasn't defective. I figured that was impossible if his friend's worked and his didn't--you'd think the friend would have clued him in--but of course, I took it out of the package and the plastic protector was still in it. Of course it doesn't work if you don't remove the seal.

When I showed it to my cashier she begged me to "PLEASE say something to him," so I shrugged and approached him, commented that my company wasn't going to like me very much now for marking this damaged because the old one works too, and showed him. He apologized a lot and seemed very repentant, but truthfully, I really should have pre-empted this. Don't I know better by now that you should never trust a customer to do the smart thing?


Heh, today I found out that some dumb bitch is giving out OUR business's phone number as her own. We've received multiple calls for her and requests to page her--she's using us as her voicemail service! Now there is a note on both phones not to take messages or pages for her because she's giving out our number like it's hers. Dumb!

And then in the morning I had these two foreign ladies looking for books on a particular test. I didn't have anything on the grade level they wanted but I thought I might be able to help, so I asked some questions and THEY KEPT BOTH ANSWERING AT THE SAME TIME IN BROKEN ENGLISH. It is difficult enough to understand someone who doesn't speak the language well and is delivering what few English words they know with a heavy accent, but when I'm trying to figure out what they mean WHILE THEY TALK OVER EACH OTHER it's just too much to ask. Hahaha. Then after all was said and done they tried to pay at Customer Service and I had to send them to the register, which was another fun communication hurdle. . . .


First, a "guest Stupid"--a file from our other branch in town. My friend who works there told me that if Mr. Wise wasn't recurring, this lady would have beat him as Worst Customer Ever. See, she came in to do a return, and so they called the manager. The manager noticed that the three paperbacks she was returning looked a little . . . well, ratty, and asked her what the reason for the return was (because we ask everyone that--the computer asks for a reason).

The lady's response was, "I'm done with them."

You can guess where this is leading.

Long story short, the woman said that she had finished reading them and now wanted to get new ones. When the manager told her that she isn't supposed to do that, the lady barked, "Well, why not?" When the manager said that we aren't a library, the lady replied, "Are you going to DO the return or NOT??" After the manager agreed to do it, the lady started rambling about how now she's probably going to start getting five at a time instead of three, and then she changed tone and decided to ramble about how she wants to call the Better Business Bureau and report this manager for giving her trouble about the return. When protesting that she WAS doing the return to make her happy even though she wasn't really supposed to, the lady was like, "YEAH, but I had to ARGUE with you about it." Followed by more personal ripping on her.

I really hope that they take note of this woman's name and address and phone number and all that and refuse to do more returns for her. The return policy is not an open borrowing policy, and there is a such thing as abusing it.

Anyway. Cluster fuck at Customer Service. I went there while I was helping someone, and as soon as I finished helping them on the phone, a woman walked up to the desk. I was walking toward her looking at her about to say "can I help you?" when ANOTHER person who was at the OTHER side of the desk said, "Excuse me." So basically, it was like they'd both arrived at the same time and I didn't know who to help first. So I said, "Okay, who's next?" One of them says, "OH, I don't know!" Then the other lady said, "You can go ahead," and then the first one goes, "No, you, go 'head!" Yes, in the name of being diplomatic you are seriously wasting my time. If someone offers you the chance to go ahead of them, you should take it instead of passing it back, because then NOBODY knows what to do. In any case my manager arrived shortly after that and she helped one of them and I helped the other. ::grin::

So, I answered the phone with my usual spiel and the woman on the other end interrupted it by asking which bookstore we were, which street we were on. Kind of ironic considering my opening spiel includes that information, but whatever. She said she was checking on an order, and after I saw that it wasn't waiting for her, she dropped the bomb that her son had ordered it in NOVEMBER for Christmas. Hello. Despite the fact that I needed a name or phone number to look up the account and see what happened to the book, she kept telling me she didn't know what name it was ordered under or what her son's number was but kept giving me the name and author of the book, thinking that would help me "find it." When I told her that it would have been sent back if it was that long ago, she was all shocked and asked if we wouldn't at least CALL first. I told her of course we call but if no one comes to get it we send it back. Then she acted shocked about that. But I explained to her that unless we find out what name or phone number it was ordered under, we can't find out if that is indeed what happened to the order or if maybe it was a special order that takes that kind of time to come in. Urgh. She said she'd have to call back later after talking to the son. Whatever.


A lady I was helping was probably just brain-fried because she was going to a kids' birthday party thing, but damn, she just didn't make any sense. First she wanted a particular Nickelodeon character and kept asking, "Is that all you have, in the corner there?" There's a LOT more than just in the corner and I pointed it out, but since it was in the same general direction as said corner she kept NOT LOOKING WHERE I WAS POINTING, protesting that she saw that already but there wasn't very much. Finally I led her to it and she claimed she'd already seen this, but then she started picking stuff up and going, "Huh, I didn't see THIS one before." (Psst--lady, that's because we're standing in a different place now.) I guess all kids' books look alike to some people. Anyway, she was checking the ages on the books by turning them over, and then she was like, "Oh, what's this?" and picked up a product, and just kind of glanced at its front and said, "And what age is THIS for, it doesn't say." That's just weird, because I saw her turn over everything else to find the age and then she didn't turn this one over and it was indeed on the back. During the rest of the interaction she was just mostly being annoying by asking me questions that someone who didn't know the kid it was for wouldn't know, or turning the pages and rambling about stuff. She was one of those people who needs to be helped from the moment she steps into the store to the moment she leaves, apparently feeling totally confused if she doesn't have someone to walk her through all her thoughts.

A lady called and said she had issues trying to order something on our Web site with her discount card. "I tried it before but my card was expired," she explained. "I came in and renewed it. And now I want to order something online, and it asks for A NUMBER. Is that the number below the line of stripes?" Um, yeah, the number underneath the bar code. She thanked me and said that solved her problem and hung up, but then just to be sure I went to the register, looked at a discount card, and satisfied my curiosity. Nope, there AREN'T any other numbers on the discount card besides those underneath the bar code. But by all means, without trying it to start with, call the bookstore and ask, "Is THAT my number?" when there isn't any other number on the card, yeah that makes sense.


There was a dude who needed to be walked like completely around the store, because he didn't feel like being specific about what he wanted. Actually, to be fair, we didn't have the book he'd come in for, and after asking me about it a couple times in different ways in an attempt to change the answer, he accepted it and asked where financial books were. After I showed him that, he wanted to know if I didn't have anything financial from a Christian perspective. (Because God is big on you having lots of money, as any televangelist will tell you. God has historically cared so much about Earthly existence and physical comfort, you see.) I showed him said books in the Christian section, and then he's like, "Well would you have anything like this but for TEENS?" ::sigh:: Please just tell me what you want instead of being vague, thank you. . . .

A guy looking for magazines was holding the January issue of some car mag and wanted to know if we had the February. "No, if the January's still there then we haven't received the February yet," I said. So he asked when we were going to get it, and I said there was no way for me to tell when we were going to get it, we get shipments once a week but I can't find out what's going to be in it. "Because it's almost February," he said disapprovingly. Oh, well that changes things--NOW I can find out! He left me alone but not for long. Now he had a bright idea: "So . . . could you look it up . . . IN THE COMPUTER?" I asked him what he wanted me to look up. "Look up when you're getting the new one." I told him again that I had no way of finding out, and that includes the computer. "There ISN'T a way for me to find out when it will be shipped," I said apologetically. "Like . . . at ALL?" he prompted. Yeah. At all. Jesus! When I said the FIRST time that I couldn't find out, I actually really meant that I didn't have a way to find out, not that I couldn't think of one or that I was open to suggestions by you, the customer. Man. . . .

A lady called my store seemingly frantic to know what books had been chosen for the Caldecott and Newbery Awards for this year. I didn't know they'd been announced, so I hadn't heard, and so I started going to the computer to see if by chance they had announced it on our news page. AS I WAS WALKING she was badgering me about how if I didn't *know* then goshdarnit why wasn't I on the case finding out? I told her I was on my way to my computer to see if they had anything up. And I didn't see anything--the only kids' book news was that Small Steps was on the TV again or something. So THEN I got attacked some more, with her seeming floored that A BOOKSTORE wouldn't KNOW that information. "I don't know how else to find out besides, ya know, calling a BOOKstore," she said, I guess in an attempt to prompt me to, ya know, start knowing stuff. She explained that she knew they'd been announced, and said, "You're a BOOKSTORE and you can't FIND OUT???" and I replied that until they updated the page to give us any news, I had no way of finding out as I have no outside links and no walkie talkie updating me on all up-to-the-minute news.

But I do wonder one thing. "How else can you find out besides calling a bookstore????"

INĚTERĚNET: 'in-t&r-"net (noun): an electronic communications network that connects computer networks and organizational computer facilities around the world.

Oh yeah, that thing. Hey, they knows everything on that there computarrr!

Interestingly enough, the announcement WAS on our Web site the next time I looked. Yaaay.

A woman called and asked for a book, and it was one we'd have to order. The customer seemed VERY surprised and protested that this person was a LOCAL AUTHOR so we should have it. I told her again that we'd have to order it, we don't carry the book. "Well, that's INTERESTING," she said, and we parted ways. That always kinda bugs me that people always think we'll automatically carry any book that was scrawled out and printed by any yahoo in the vicinity.


So, I had two Stupids today and neither of them happened to me. First off, some guy bitched one of our cashiers out because he had a gift certificate from like three years ago and now, as per the policy on the back, it has all been taken off in service fees. After twelve months of non-use they deduct some of the money, and like every month after that. Because otherwise we have to pay to keep it active, and that isn't going to happen, we're not going to pay a bunch of money so people can lose their gift cards and screw us over. Soooo the dude was upset and was like, "That's a STUPID policy," and when the cashier told him that it wasn't our bookstore's policy but rather the policy of the people that make the gift cards work, he said it WAS our fault because we APPROVED gift cards that use that policy. Guess what? It's not uncommon for gift cards to have a non-use fee, and you too can read the back of the damn thing to make sure you take care of it. . . . It obviously wasn't much of a priority for you if you didn't use the damn thing for THREE YEARS.

The other one was more annoying. A teacher from a neighboring county wanted to get a tax exemption without having any sort of ID or tax number on her. We do have the list of tax exempt numbers for OUR county, but when we told her that we didn't have a file of, like, OTHER counties' tax exemption numbers, she got really upset and our manager told her "I'm sorry." "That's RIGHT, you ARE sorry," she barked, and then claimed that the other two major bookstores in town do have it on file and can do it for her. My manager told her that she didn't mean to upset her but there was nothing she could do, and that we would be glad to give her a tax exemption if she could give us a damn number to put in our system for the state who requires us to have it if we exempt tax. The lady said she wasn't upset by that; she was actually upset by the fact that someone cut in front of her in line. (Ohhhkay.) Then she started bitching that we don't have any organization for our lines and that's why she got butted. See, we don't have divided lines like a grocery market, and so sometimes the customers deal with this by treating us like a bank and having one line form, with the person at the front of the line going to the next available cashier whenever one opens up, but then sometimes someone takes it upon him/herself to form a second line at the next open cashier and they start choosing a line instead. I guess the lady had some guy behind her decide to just go stand in my line behind the customer I was helping, which made him get helped before her.

Okay. Now what I have a problem with here is that THIS LADY IS AN ADULT. She's bitching that we can't tax-exempt her purchase because SHE DIDN'T BRING HER ID NUMBER THAT LETS US DO IT, and she's bitching that SOMEONE GOT HELPED BEFORE SHE DID BECAUSE THEY MOVED FASTER. Get a frickin' grip is what I say. We are GROWN-UPS. We should not bitch about being butted in line or treat other people like they are giving us bad service because we failed to bring a necessary number, I mean doesn't it make sense that you should bring your tax-exempt number with you when you shop if you expect to be tax-exempt and you haven't checked ahead to see if they can make up for your stupidity by having it on file? People who blame others for their shortcomings and act like giant babies piss me off.

Not to mention that our manager told me that often a school or school network will have a contract with one particular bookstore, and that if one or both of the other bookstores have the other county's numbers on file it's because they've set up accounts with them while they haven't done so with us. I guess this lady just thinks she can go anywhere and say "I'M A TEACHER" and therefore she will be the exception wherever she goes. Sorry, lady, you can't get into the fair for free just because you TELL me that someone gave you a free pass.


I only have one Stupid today, but it was awesome and definitely one of those things where I got the ultimate validation.

So. Lady calls. First thing she wants is to look up a book and she says she has the author. I asked if she had the title (that's easier for my computer than an author, since it'll give you everything the author's WRITTEN if you just look up the author, but if you look up the title, well, that's more individual). She said she did have the title, and proceeded to tell me the author and start spelling that instead. I asked if I could have the title, and she gave me this sort of "boy you're dumb" huff and said, "I BELIEVE that the author's name will be shorter." Yeah, whenever a title is longer than two words it tends to be longer than the author's name. Look, I do have a reason for asking for a title instead of an author, seriously, give me the title. She gave me the title and it wasn't one of those beastly long ones or anything, but it also wasn't in the system, so I was forced to try by author, and that didn't work either. There were authors by a name that was one letter different from the one she was spelling, but she was hearing none of that--her information was RIGHT and couldn't possibly be wrong, but then again it didn't really matter because these other authors didn't have titles that resembled the one she asked for anyway.

It would have been a run-of-the-mill entry if she hadn't had a second issue as well. She'd ordered a book and we had never called her. (Said accusingly of course.) "Okay, what name was it ordered under?" She gave me the name and I didn't see it on the shelf. "When did you order it?" Sometime last week, she said, and if it was as early as last week it might have been one of those ones that didn't have enough time to get to us the same weekend. I looked her up in the computer by her phone number.

She hasn't ordered anything from us since October last year.

After I told her that she adopted the attitude that she was talking to someone incompetent, and everything she said to me was laced with "I can't believe you idiots, you don't know how to run a business," though she didn't SAY anything like that. It was definitely a feeling of "look at this, you're putting me through such an ordeal, first you can't find a record of a book I know exists and now you've lost the book I ordered too." Ignoring her attitude, I asked her if she could have ordered under any other phone numbers. She said no, and when I told her maybe I'd try searching under her name in case whoever ordered it typed the phone number wrong, she said that when she'd called the "fella" she talked to claimed that the book was something we usually stocked on the shelf, and could I just go check the shelf and see if it was there and hold her one instead.

Another hoop to jump through: The title she gave me wasn't coming up in the computer. It was one of those books that started with the word "First," but they decided to be cute and use "1st" (I guess to get to the top of alphabetical lists?), though even though I tried both of those I didn't get it on the screen until I searched by author and found that the idiots at our home office or whatever entered the book's first word as "Ist." Yes, capital I, s, t. No wonder I couldn't find it by title.

Anyway, the book was listed as something we CAN'T EVEN ORDER, so I suggested to the lady that if we don't have a record of her order and it's not a book we can ever get, it must have been another store she ordered it with. "NO, you all are the ONLY people I deal with," she said with a sort of "God this is ridiculous" laugh, and when I told her the only thing I could do was look for it used in this situation, she just said, "NO, I'm just not gonna WORRY about it now, THANK you," and hung up.


So my wheels started turning. I know that sometimes I have some new and some incompetent co-workers here and there, but I didn't think any of the people I've been working with lately were of that description, not enough to tell someone they're ordering a book and also tell someone that it's usually in the store when it isn't even in our warehouse to get. I couldn't imagine a reason that we would actually lose her order and tell her something so opposite the actual situation. So I decided it would be fun to call the other bookstores and check her out.

The first of our competitors offered up an associate who was a total bitch to me on the phone--when I asked if she could look up a customer by phone number she acted like that was a ridiculous question (apparently they don't have phone number searches for customers), so she asked for the name and when I gave her the customer's first name she snapped "just the LAST name." And it was a common last name, and after just a few moments she just said, "No." Hmm, okay, nobody with that last name has ever ordered with you, I see. Next.

The next bookstore was my salvation. THEY had a phone search and when I gave them this customer's number, they rattled her name off to me. "Any recent orders?" I asked, and she said that there was a listing for a copy of the same book she was bugging me about under her name. Not last week, though--two DAYS ago. Jeeez.

So, she called the wrong bookstore, bitched, claimed she never shops with anyone else, and claimed that it was last week when it was two DAYS ago--no wonder they didn't call you that it was in, did you expect them to fly it in immediately? C'mon.

So I did what any other self-satisfied book bitch would do. I called the lady back.

I got her answering machine and got to leave a lovely polite message about how it had been bothering me that we might have LOST something of hers, so I checked around and indeed this other bookstore has you in their system as having ordered that exact book TWO DAYS AGO. They told me it wasn't in yet but was still on order for you where you placed it at THEIR store, and THEIR phone number is da-da-da, if you want to communicate with THEM about it give THEM a call, and yes I'm so happy I was able to get to the bottom of this, have a GREAT day!


It's not so much that I love being right; it's that I love being right when someone was abusive to me and acted like her customerosity protected her from making any mistakes.

But I also do love being right. Yeahhhh.


A lady came in today to pick up a book she'd ordered and realized she'd forgotten the coupon she needed to get a big discount off it. This wouldn't have been such a big deal if the last time she came to pick it up, she didn't do so for the SAME REASON. I was there BOTH TIMES. Hahaha. Holy shit. Imagine repeatedly coming back to some place and realizing you forgot the damn coupon that was the reason you came in the first place.

A woman called about doing a return, and then she wanted to know what she should do since her discount card had expired. I told her she could update it if she wanted and she asked, "Well if I update it now is it just good for the rest of 2006, or will I get a full year?" I explained that it is always good from the day you get it 'til that day next year. She proceeded to ask the same question again in different words, asking whether I could just update it so that she would get seventeen extra days out of her update since today was so far into January and she didn't want to "lose" those days. I repeated myself and tried to make it a little clearer. Then when she actually came in to do the return, I took care of it and she told me that she wanted to get a new discount card but she wanted it to be good until the 17th next year. I know, I know. I explained it to her again and then when it got to the part where we were actually putting the card in, she said, "Now don't forget, you need to EXTEND it so that I have until January 17th next year, not just through the end of 2006!" How many times do I have to say it? It's automatically that way. We don't need to do something special to "extend" it! Dipshit.

A lady wanted two books and they were available in several formats, so I asked her if she was looking for hardcover or paperback. "Well which is it that you have there?" she asked. I told her there were several formats for each and I just wanted to know what she was LOOKING for. "Well I guess whatever you have there!" she said, seeming like she didn't get it. I threw the question out and told her we had paperback, was that okay? Then we got into what KIND of paperback and it seemed she'd never heard of the concept of mass-market paperbacks vs. trade paperbacks (and just so you know, I did not SAY either of those "jargon" words; I was calling them "small" and "larger"). It turned out that at the end of my explanation she thought mass-market paperbacks were the regular book with some of the text cut out. ::sigh:: I think I'm going to start speaking Stupid, complete with drool, because speaking plain English does NOT get through to these people.

A lady came in with a gift card wanting to check the balance, fearing that it had "expired." "Do they ever expire?" she asked, and I swear to God she interrupted me THREE times while I was trying to answer! "Well, after a non-use period of twelve months--" I said, but that was as far as I got. "OH, well I think it's been more than that, I got it from my students last year." I tried to continue. "After twelve months of not using it, there's--" "Oh I bet it's expired." Trying to get to the part where I say it doesn't EXPIRE but rather has a SERVICE FEE deducted after a period of time, I tried again, but while I was talking she ran me over saying she had JUST found it even though her students gave it to her LAST Christmas and oh well it's probably expired, Ohhhhhhhhhh. Lady, give me that fricking thing--let me check its goddamn balance. Well, what do you know. It's got the full balance on it. Guess you didn't let it go too long after all. God I wish people would ask a question and then shut up long enough for me to answer it.

And this is NOT a Stupid 'cause I thought this guy was cool, but this is hilarious. At the returns register I did a return for a flamingly gay college guy who had to return a pornographic photography book because his teacher had dubbed it "not art" and therefore not suitable for whatever project he was doing. During the course of the return he bitched about six different times about how he'd wanted that book for *personal* reasons too, and kept turning the book over and opening it again while I was processing it looking at a particular model that he apparently adored and saying stuff like "Ohhhhh, that's HOT! He's so HOT! I can't believe my bitch teacher. I can't believe I have to return this, this sucks. Oh he's so hot." Yeah we get it. Not my thing, dude. But it was still funny. :)


Argh. So I was helping some lady with her goofy questions and she kept cutting me off when she didn't like my answer. Like when she wanted books on cooking a particular kind of food and I told her we didn't have a SECTION on that, and she just walked around the corner without saying anything only to turn up later and ask more questions in her snippy way. Argh. Yeah. You're welcome.

A lady was looking for a book with an unusually-spelled title. She spelled it for me and was all shocked when I said it's one we don't carry even though it's a popular author (one of those romance novelists who has about 300 books, yet we should carry ALL of them, even the ones that were published in 1991). Anyway, she wandered away, then came back after I'd helped about eight other people and expected me to remember what it was she wanted, saying, "So would you order me that book?" I asked her to remind me what it was and not only did she do so but she spelled it again (ohhkay, thank you). Then she came BACK, changed her mind about wanting it ordered at our store and wanted it at the other store, and finally left me in peace. Le sigh.


First and foremost, I must mention the MR. WISE ENCOUNTER of today.

The main story is this: Mr. Wise, #1 on my 10 worst customers ever list, gave us a call and got one of our seasoned employees who has somehow also never dealt with him before, was his usual grumpy and impatient self on the phone (which caused some miscommunication), and then came to the store. It turned out the book he had wanted to put on hold was a different one from the book that our employee actually put on hold for him; it had a similar title, but I guess he was above repeating himself, so some guesswork was involved in acquiring the right book.

So he came to the store and the customer service gal was busy helping another customer with something that takes a while: A home delivery order. Being that he is Mr. Wise, he walked up to the desk and demanded her attention, which shouldn't have been that big a deal because all he needed her to do is grab a book that was on hold and hand it to him. But being that it was the wrong book, he not only had to lay into her; he seemed to think that she should then abandon the person who was there first and start helping HIM.

I was on the ass end of my lunch break. Several other associates were either stationed at other posts or busy. When I heard that Mr. Wise was in the store, I worried that he either wasn't being helped or might be giving someone a hard time--and I sensed that there might be a story involved, damn I should work for a newspaper--and so I went out and braved the storm (trailed by another associate), approaching the desk only to hear the familiar sound of him chewing someone out.

"Oh, I see, you're blaming ME for this," he shouted.

"I'm not blaming you--"

"YES, you are BLAMING ME."


I stepped up to the desk and said to no one in particular, "Here we are to the rescue," and put myself in the line of fire. "What's going on here?"

"BAD SERVICE!" yelled Mr. Wise.

And then I heard another customer call over, "You know, we would ALL appreciate a little QUIET!"

I guess he'd been at it a while.

Observing that my poor little associate (who, incidentally, is like a nineteen-year-old college sophomore who is quite sweet when she wants to be) was still trying valiantly to help the obvious first person in line WHILE being yelled at for something that obviously wasn't her fault, I asked again what was going on and got the story out of him--apparently someone had put the wrong book on hold for him. "And I TOLD the guy and he put something completely DIFFERENT on hold for me." Yeah all right now we're getting somewhere.

I looked his book up on the computer. The titles were very similar and were shelved in the same section, and thank goodness we had what he wanted or I'm sure I would have gotten to add to the list of expletives the man has used in our store. I told him I'd check and see if it was there, went and got it, returned with it and gave it to him. He seemed pretty calm and accepted that it was what he wanted, then grouched that it was a dollar more than what "the guy" had said it was before he PUT THE WRONG BOOK ON HOLD FOR HIM BECAUSE THESE JOKERS CAN'T LISTEN.

"Everybody's a dummy sometimes," I offered.

Weirdly he seemed to accept that and grabbed the book, but had to add that since he had been quoted a dollar less he was tempted to just tell us to stick this book "where the moon don't shine." Ohhkay. It seemed like he was gonna leave, but then he pointed at his first victim--who was obviously still reeling from the shock--and started telling me that I needed to WATCH her (loudly using her name and putting down her service abilities), just generally being a dick again. As soon as he used her name I just put my arm around her and waited for him to shut up. He made some insinuation that she causes all these problems, after which I said loudly and sarcastically to her, "You RABBLE ROUSER." Heh.

He said, "NO, now this isn't FUNNY."

"I'm not laughing," she spoke up.

"Neither am I," I added, looking at him.

I think he moaned a little more bullshit after that but it was all as he was walking away.

The cashiers told me he walked up to the line of six people and butted them all to walk to the open cash register instead of letting the person who was next go. I guess HE deSERVES it.

Now what's funny is the other customers' reactions. One told us how much of a jerk he thought he was. One woman sort of defended him by saying the guy is in renal failure and it's not his fault how he acts. (The associate who got screamed at had another opinion of that--she said she didn't care WHAT is going on in the person's life, you don't treat other people like that. She said she had half a mind to tell him that and who cares if he's a customer.) Then we had a guy come up and tell us he admired that we didn't punch him, wondering how we stood it and saying that just listening to the guy had made him so angry he was shaking. (Turns out he's the one who yelled for quiet toward the beginning.)

So it was yet another Close Encounter of the Wise Kind.

I'm sure these will continue until I quit or renal failure claims the man. I wonder which it will be?

Or maybe I'll be fired for bad customer service.

On to the more run-of-the-mill Stupids.

This one wasn't too bad--it was more me being a pedant than anything else. A girl asked me where the planners were, and so I asked her what type of planner she was looking for. "Like, the ones you WRITE in?" she asked, and so I named for her several kinds of things she could mean. She figured out that the problem was her lack of being specific rather than my being stupid, but we don't really CARRY what she actually wanted, so I guess I just wanted her to be more specific so I could be more specific back. Event planners, wedding planners, date books . . . lots of stuff falls under "planners," guys.

Here's my favorite. A lady called and wanted me to find for her something that just isn't published.

Her problem: She has a fourth grader who can't do subtraction. Her request: Find her a workbook that will help the child. Where her request became an impossible demand: She wanted it to have ONLY subtraction problems in the book (which ruled out getting a nice broad math book that included subtraction) and she didn't want to accept that the subject her daughter was having problems with was SECOND-GRADE WORK.

I only had a couple of workbooks that were ONLY subtraction, and they were both clearly labeled for second grade-level math. The lady didn't want this, and kept reminding me that her daughter was ten years old, a fourth grader. Well, fine and good, but she needs remedial materials apparently, and they don't make a book of subtraction problems for fourth graders who do second-grade work. They don't MAKE remedial workbooks. If you're a tenth grader who reads on a fifth-grade level, they don't make a book for that. You bite the bullet and buy a book for fifth-grade reading.

I wanted to tell her that if her kid was going to be hurt or embarrassed by being given a second-grade book that the mom just tear out the pages or make copies, but I had a feeling it was actually Mom who didn't like the idea of her kid doing second-grade work. "She's good at everything ELSE," the mom protested. Well, I understand this. "Isn't there anything you can get on the COMPUTER and order it in?" Well, the problem there is I can't see how elementary the subtraction is. But I tried anyway and got kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Guess what that means? It means if your kid's still struggling with subtraction in fourth grade, she needs a book for a younger child, and either you just deal with any feelings of inadequacy you or your kid might have over this or you get off your dead ass and write her some subtraction problems yourself--it won't kill you, since you obviously have the time to have this conversation with me. Whatever.

A woman came up to me with a rainbow sticker knickknack and asked me whether "the clearance 50% off" came off of the reduced price sticker that was already on there or whether that WAS the half-off price.

Seeing as how there was no 50% off indication on the product (just a reduced price), I asked her to show me why she thought it was half off at all, so as predicted she showed me a clearance table that said "up to 50% off!" and a lot of the stuff on it had discount stickers but everything else on it was just reduced price, no 50% off stickers. I told her that it was already marked down and that was the price--it was labeled at $2.00.

"Okay, I see, that's fine," she said. "I'll just put it back then. The kids have too much junk anyway." Okay cool. But then she said, "If it WAS half off that, I would have gotten it. I couldn't have passed that up for a dollar."

Wow. Can you say CHEAP-ASS?? Also, can you say GUILT TRIP? Doesn't work on me, lady. I don't set the prices.

Okay. I know you don't want to know about my personal life or my private matters, and I know that especially if you are male you probably won't want to hear about this. But it's important to know to understand why this pissed me off so much.

Today was the first day of my period, and it was about time to change "the equipment" if you know what I mean.

Therefore, it was very aggravating when on my way to do just that every customer in the store decided to respond to the flashing "PICK ME!" sign that must have been on my chest, because it was almost a half hour before I got to the damn bathroom.

And they were doing it in really annoying ways, too. First I was helping someone in Kids' and they asked a question that sent me to the computer, but of course they did not ACCOMPANY me to the computer so the customer standing at the desk when I got there thought I was coming to help her, and was very pinched-faced when I told her I would be right with her. I helped the Kids' people and actually got another associate to help the Customer Service customer, but WHILE I was helping the family and they asked another question, I got a woman waving at me frantically saying, "Hi, excuse me, EXCUSE ME, I need you!" I told her to chill and let me finish helping this lady, and after I did I was walking back to the next lady and this dude interrupts me and says, "I can't find this book, it's called . . . " and blabbers on. I told him I'd have to help him after I finished helping Stooge #2.

And this lady wanted incredibly impossible things, like a book for a four-year-old that helps explain her rare allergy to her. And after I told her we didn't have it, she just repeated the information about the allergy as if because I didn't have any books on it, I therefore didn't know what she was talking about. Lady, my comprehension of said disorder is not necessary in order for me to know for a fact that we don't have a book on it. We don't even have a book for PARENTS on that. Anyway, after I helped her with her assload of questions, I went back to the guy and asked if he was still looking for the book.

"Yeah, I can't find it," he said. "I can't tell HOW you have these organized."

"Oh, it's alphabetical by author," I explained, "but I'm not sure which section that's in, I'll go check." I looked it up at the desk, came back, and decided it would be fun to show him that it was indeed in order by author since he was insinuating that there was no order. I just started going through the shelf the book would be on and reading off authors' names, letting him notice how they were, well, in perfect order. I found his book, which admittedly was pretty small and therefore eclipsed by the larger books around it, and he admitted he'd been confused by illustrators' and publishers' names, which happens. He was a nice guy.

But he was keeping me from my date with Tampax.

Sorry. Really I am. Just stating the truth.

And that's the end of that.


Just a cute file for today, nothing stupid. A little girl noticed our Barbie display and shrieked, "OOOOHH, MOMMY, THE MAGIC OF PEGASUS!" Mommy tried to drag her little girl along, but the child was too enchanted with a plastic doll "acting" in a stupid movie, so she begged for the book and was refused. "But Mommy," cried the girl, "I'VE ALWAYS WANTED THIS."

Yup. Always, for all of your five long years of life, or perhaps all the way from the time you noticed the existence of the book about thirty seconds ago.

Kids are cute.


In Amusing Employee News, one of our managers found that our vacuum cleaner was overly full due to people not emptying it as often as they ought, so she spent part of the evening with her gloved hand up the bag trying to pull black dust out. Or rather, in her words, she was "fisting the vacuum up to [her] elbow." Hahaha. She also said she was sneezing black snot all night. That is just a lovely picture.

I had a customer who had this amazing ability to not be able to see the price on anything. She kept taking stuff up to the register and asking them to scan it because "this has no price on it!" and they all did have prices on them. I think maybe she just isn't used to, ya know, books. Because books almost always have their price on them somewhere, so we don't put a separate price sticker on them or anything. Three different times while I was helping her she found something that she claimed was not labeled and I found the price on it. Weird.

I was standing at the customer service desk talking to another associate, and a customer wandered up to ask us questions so we interrupted our conversation and I stood there while she busied herself with the customer. Then another customer walked up so I tried to help her, but when I acknowledged her she just answered my "hi" and then started contributing to the exchange between my co-worker and the other customer. Usually customers who are unrelated to each other do not walk up and join other customers' interactions, so I automatically figured they were together, since not only did she do that but didn't try to get my help after I made myself available. But then when the other customer went away, this lady DID have a question! I don't know why she felt like she had to wait until the other person was gone before she could ask, as if both of us were needed to help the single customer.

Anyway, this lady was one of those people who has like ten questions but doesn't tell you so up front, and every time you're about to go help her by finding books on the shelf she has "one more question." After she'd asked all she appeared to have at the time (about five), she came up with three more requests while we were actually in the store. The funniest one to me was that she was looking for a book by "Beatrice Small" and when I found it by the title the author's name was actually "Bertrice." I mentioned that casually--"I found that title--it says it's by a Bertrice Small, but it's the right title." "NO, Beatrice," she "corrected" me, and then I looked at the list of her other books and they all were listed as "Bertrice" and furthermore said so on the pictures of their covers. I told her that it seemed the author spelled her name "Bertrice," and then it turned out she was HOLDING one of the books at the time, looked at it, and noticed it was indeed "Bertrice." "And I've been calling her 'Beatrice' all these years! You learn something new every day," she said. Heheh. Then I felt like an ass for pointing it out. I don't usually do those things just to be a jerk; I usually do it because I want to make sure we're actually talking about the same thing, but I also think people should know how to say the names of their favorite authors for God's sake.


A woman called me and rambled about how she ordered books and she wanted to know if they were in. I asked when she ordered them and she said it had been a week before Christmas, so she wasn't one of those losers who orders books and then calls two days later hoping they're in. I asked for her name, checked the shelf, and there they were. "Yes, they're here," I said, "the note on their label says they called and left a message on the seventh." Pause. "Well I CERTAINLY didn't personally SPEAK to anyone!" she said indignantly. I told her I knew that, that's what the label said, they said they left a message. In any case if she didn't get the message, now she knows: They're here. "Are you sure?" she said, and I said I was holding two books with her name on them. Then she insisted on asking me whether the titles were THIS and THIS, a couple of Lewis and Clark books. I told her that I was HOLDING in my HAND two books with her name on them and they matched the titles she was saying. "Have you read them?" she asked, and I was like, "Noooo. . . . " "Well you SHOULD!" she said, and then launched into the explanation about how one is about Lewis and Clark and the other was about someone's son's adventure. "And it is GOOD historical material that YOU would find very useful to know," she said in this librarian voice. I replied, "Ohhhkay well . . . they're here! You can come get them at Customer Service anytime." She kind of laughed so I guess she got the message and then let me go, but I have to say that is the first time I have been evangelized to read something that's historical and not religious.

A woman asked me if I knew anything about the kids' section. "Yep, I'm the boss over here," I said, and she went on to say that she'd been in last week and wanted to know where I now had the calendars that had been displayed in Kids'. We never had calendars in Kids'. All the calendars (even the ones for children) are on the calendar display and it has never been any different. So I told her so but then she started saying that she knew she'd seen it here in Kids' before, and so I played along and said, "Okay, well what kind of calendar are you talking about?" "A calendar," she said, "Like, January-February-March?" Oh yeah, bitch, get sarcastic. After you're talking to the boss of the kids' section who obviously knows more about it than you do and trying to tell her what she carries. I showed her the calendars we did have (in the calendar section) and she suddenly changed her story and said she wasn't sure where we'd actually had them but they were this particular kind of calendar that the kids can interact with. Umkay whatever.


Yeah, so, today I dealt with a lady that I think may have had brain surgery. Her scary vapid stare and her very slow speaking may indicate that it was a lobotomy . . . I'm not sure. In any case she went to the cash register for customer service help, and I heard the cashier spending three exchanges instead of the usual one trying to get the lady to understand that she needed to go to Customer Service to get help with her question about a book. And then, horror of horrors, she started walking over there and I realized there wasn't anyone standing there. I was going to have to help her myself.

So, I walked over there and beat the lady to the desk, and greeted her. She said she was looking for a book. "It's the new . . . Dungeons . . . and . . . Dragons . . . book," she said, speaking slowly for the title in that exact way people do when they think you're writing down what they're saying. I asked her if she knew what it was called, since "a new Dungeons and Dragons book" could be anything from a fiction book to a game guide, but thankfully she did know the title, which she then rattled off to me in that same hesitant way. After she was done speaking I clattered it into my computer using my light-speed typing (about six times faster than it took her to SAY the frickin' thing) and came up with an answer.

The computer listed a January 2006 publication date and indicated that we did not carry the book. I explained to the lady that since it says we don't carry the book but it's only recently been released, I have no way of knowing if we're ever going to carry it or if its "not in store" status is just NOT YET, but we certainly don't have it NOW, so if she wants to she can order it. Halfway through this diatribe I begin to sense that I am both being stared at thoroughly and not being understood in the slightest. I finished my spiel (during which I'd carefully kept my eyes on the computer screen) and met her stare. Yup, giant stare right at me. And then silence.

Brain surgery patient, I'm tellin' ya.

I was expecting her to start drooling or fall over.

"So that's the deal," I said, by way of trying to prompt her to push this into the next phase: Ask to order it or GO AWAY! But her response was the predictable "So . . . so . . . you don't have it?"

"Yeah, like I said, the computer indicates that . . . " and I did the spiel again. I usually repeat myself thoroughly for these people because if they hear it a second time sometimes they realize, "Hey, she already told me that. Maybe I should have been listening." It's a good idea to listen to the answer when you have come to a desk specifically to ask a question. But then she made a protest: "But my son went on his COMPUTER. And he SAID it WAS already released." So from there I got to explain to her that a book's release doesn't indicate that bookstores automatically carry it. If we carried every book that was released, we would look like the Library of Congress. "Well, do you think Books and Noble would have it?" Hmm. As far as I know there is no bookstore called Books and Noble, but I recognized that she was basically wanting to know if any other store had it, and so I told her *I* had no way of knowing whether another bookstore would carry this book, and suggested she try. "Well if I try at Books and Noble, do you think they will have it?" she asked. I guess rephrasing the question means this time I'll answer--oh wait, it doesn't work that way! The answer is still I DON'T KNOW WHAT OTHER BOOKSTORES HAVE. Finally accepting this, she went away. I found myself hoping she wasn't the one driving.

And here is the best story I've heard in a long time.

One of my managers has many a time described herself as a "large" person. "I am not small. I am not medium. I am a LARGE person," I have heard her say unrepentantly--she does not care that she exceeds society's oh-so-perfect decree of body standards, and I have never known her to diet or attempt to change herself for anyone else. Therefore, the fact that this happened to HER was quite amusing.

She had been sick. Quite sick, as in hacking and coughing all over the place. This was still the case when a wrinkly old man came up to the desk and saw her standing there (she was waiting to use the computer that actually prints), and for some reason asked her in one of those kindly-old-man ways if he could see her hands for a minute. She was understandably hesitant, but he was like, "Please just let me have your hands for a moment." She asked if he was sure, because she knew he had to have seen her sneezing on them and stuff. But he took her hands anyway and held them in this weird psychological calming way.

"I just want you to know," he said, "that I am a Methodist minister. I am also a hypnotherapist. This weekend, our group is doing a session on WEIGHT LOSS."

Cue her immediate removal of her hands from his grip.

She told him she wasn't interested and he kind of backed off, but then he came back to the desk, used her name in order to get to "bother" her again as if they were friends, and then said, "I wanted you to know, it isn't a DIET or anything." She told him she did not care and wanted "NOTHING to do with it." He went away, and on his way out he told one of the cashiers that he hadn't meant to OFFEND her or anything. When hearing about this later, my manager said, "Great, that was a NOT REALLY apology. The least he could have done was NOT REALLY APOLOGIZE to ME."

She was more offended at the idea that this guy just thought you can walk up to overweight people and tell them you have a solution for their problems. Like her, they might not really care to lose weight. Some others might have glandular problems or just in any case be really sensitive about their weight. The fact is you don't just walk up to someone and say, "Hey, you obviously need my religious hypnotherapy bullshit because you are a fat pig." "I saw his wife," she said. "She was about THIS BIG AROUND. I don't want to look like that anyway!" She went on to say that she's been her size since she was sixteen, she met her HUSBAND when she was this size, she got MARRIED at this size, and she has no trouble getting laid at this size, thank you very much. Apparently it is not a problem for her attractiveness.

She said that she only wished that she had found out which church it was and when, so that she could (and I quote) "round up a bunch of tubby people and go over there, running up the aisle knocking things over and yelling, 'Oh I'm sorry, I must be too FAT to fit down the aisle!'" We elaborated, of course, going on to say how it should have been a pretend misunderstanding that there was going to be a free brunch, or that the people thought it was a support group rather than a weight loss program. "Oh, it's for weight LOSS?" she said. "I thought it was to MAINTAIN!"

She finished up by saying that she hopes the germs that were swimming around on the hands he insisted on grabbing toppled his probably frail immune system and put his church-hynotherapy-pimping ass right on his back.

And, in case you were wondering, YES she said it was cool to put this on my Web site. Hahaha.


I had an older woman come up to me and stammer out that she was looking for a book and couldn't find it. She rummaged in her gigantic sack of a pocketbook and found the computer printout someone had given her of the book she wanted, and handed it to me. I immediately recognized it as it is a popular book: Perricone's new book on weight loss. So I said, "Oh yeah, I know him," and started walking. Incredulously, her voice came from behind me: "You KNOW him??" I realized she thought I meant that I knew the frickin' author. "Well I don't know him personally," I explained, trying not to laugh, "but I do know his face." I showed her the book and she seemed pleased, and she also seemed pretty dotty so I wanted to make sure she wasn't going to make a mistake and told her there WAS no paperback for this book because it is new, but there is a COMPANION book, the journal, that is in paperback. I stressed that it was NOT the same book and that if she had been told to get the book on the paper, it was THIS ONE. I felt kind of stupid after all the emphasis because I realized she hadn't indicated in any way that she didn't want to buy the hardback or that she thought the journal version was a paperback version, but I had just wanted to be safe. But then later when I was finishing up some register task, I saw her up there and she was buying the paperback journal only. I didn't say anything, because hey, I said my piece, and who knows, she might actually have decided the journal is a better idea. Her business, not mine.

A woman came to the register with her daughter during a time when I was running a till, and I had to ring up her stack of crap. She seemed like a very good customer because she was one of those people who was all enthusiastic about the discount card, saying "Of COURSE!" when I asked her if she had one and going on to talk about how much money it's saved her. Great. But then I rang up some book on George Bush being an idiot and she said, "That's supposed to be fifty percent off." Hmm.

A delicate sort of detective work begins at this point. How to figure out WHY the customer thinks there's an imaginary discount and HOW to explain to her that it does not exist WITHOUT pissing her off? So. "Ahh, well the computer does not recognize it as a discounted book and there also isn't any kind of discount sticker. What's the reason you think this book is part of a sale?" So far so good. She told me "it was on a sign." I asked her where the sign was, what it said, and she claimed it was a "discount sign" and it was on a table "over there." Now usually at this point customers are pretty eager to show you you're wrong--they're happy to march you over to the sign and point it out and read it to you righteously waiting for you to realize that you do indeed owe them a discount. You have to tactfully read the sign to them IN FULL or explain to them why that same sign they're gloating about is actually the reason why it's NOT on sale. But this lady had to be nudged in order to take me to this table. She made her daughter stay there and finally showed me what she was talking about.

"There were THREE of that book here. I know I saw it," she mumbled as she searched. Then finally she found the table with another copy of the Bush book on it and pointed it out to me. "SEE?" I didn't see any immediate reason why she would think that its presence on this table would discount it fifty percent. "Okay, and where's the discount sign you were talking about?" I asked pleasantly. "Well . . . " she said hesitantly, pointing at the only sign on the table, which said, "Save 10% with your discount card!" She checked its back (which said the same thing) and then noticed a book nearby the book she'd wanted to buy that did indeed have a clearance sticker on it for 50% off. But it was the only book on the table with that discount, and it was not the same book. I told her the table wasn't a clearance table and that one book having a discount on it didn't indicate that the whole table was half off. And of course I was trying throughout the whole thing to be more like, "Oh, really?? There's a sale I don't know about? I need to know about it, can you show me? I need to make sure I know about all the sales."

Now the punch line to all this was that on the way back to the register I offered to take the book off and told her it was totally understandable if she only had decided to get it because it was half off and didn't want it anymore. BUT she said she still wanted it--she likes anything that shows W. is an idiot, she said. Hahah. But then she said, "But it's SO CONFUSING. You just have too many books just lying out!" Hmm. That's a complaint I have never heard before: Too many books lying out. I guess she's one of those people who thinks anything on a table or on a feature is therefore CHEAPER rather than, ya know, FEATURED. We like to feature stuff that costs a lot too! We like to draw people's attention to bargains, but also to stuff that will let us take their money! Hey, we're a corporation!

Another fun customer. A woman came up and asked me if I would have the first book in THIS series, holding one of the other books in the series and reading to me its title, saying she looked already but couldn't find the book. I looked it up and it was a book we carried, so I asked her where she already looked. "Over there," she said, and though I was looking at her when she said "over there" she did not move; didn't tilt her head, move her eyes, certainly didn't point, and then didn't follow "over there" with any clarifying words. "Over there," I said, "like, in the fiction section?" "Yes," she said, and sounded kinda snippy. "Okay, you checked in Fiction, not Western or anything, huh," I said (because the book seemed sort of like a western and I thought maybe she was one of those people who decides they know what category something is in and considers it "looking in the right place" if they try their guess and come up empty). She said it was the fiction section she tried and I decided she was being too snippy for me to then attempt to call her bluff and make her walk over there with me to check only to find that she's right and it isn't on the shelf. I went through the process of ordering the book for her and she seemed satisfied, but then I just had to be evil and go to the section and look for the book. And of course the book was there. In the exact right spot, not out of order or anything. Guess what? The lady was still in the store and I didn't tell her. She decided she knows how to do my job, so now she gets to wait.


A few days ago a woman came in and asked for Amelia Bedelia books, and I was called into the mix because the associate helping her couldn't find them in my section. After we found them she was so happy and kind of babbled about the awesomeness of A.B. She left happy with a small stack. But today she was back, and she came up to me and said, "WHERE have you moved the Amelia Bedelia books?" I just gave her a blank look and said, "Moved?" and she said, "YES, I was just here the other day and I bought some Amelia Bedelia books, and they were RIGHT HERE." She was standing in an area several rows away pointing at some Leap Frog stuff I've had in the same spot for, oh, a couple years. Well, I showed her where Amelia Bedelia was and listened to her explain again that she had just been here the other day but we'd moved them, and I decided not to let that go and told her that I'd helped her the other day too and hadn't moved my first readers since my last reset which was, I don't know, three years ago. She told me she had "thought sure" they used to be "over THERE!" and then let it go, but stuff like this always makes me wonder about those people who sound exactly the same as this lady and are just as adamant that they saw this in our store the other day who are obviously completely batshit. Hey, I don't care if you can't remember, no one's perfect. But don't tell me that it's because I changed it on you!

A lady called and asked me what a certain hardcover book was selling for. I gave her the retail price of $24.95 and she said, "STILL?" I gave her a point-blank "What do you mean 'still?'" and she explained that she thought after "all this time" the book would have been severely discounted and thrown on our sale tables. Well, first off the book was published in late 2003, so it's really not that old of a book even though there is now a paperback available, but I explained to the lady that there is no dependable system by which hardcover books automatically get sale-table-ized on their second birthday. "Sometimes they drop to a third their price the week the paperback comes out," I said, "and sometimes they NEVER go on sale. It just depends on sales and how many of the book our company bought, whether we have a surplus." She seemed satisfied with my explanation, which was nice. It's not every day a customer who thinks they have "things" figured out actually accepts that they're wrong.

So. I was having some fun with other employees in the back, discussing some amazing stories of weight loss that were in a magazine. One woman was claiming to be 114 pounds and wearing a size 0 at 5'2" or something. "I'm less than 114 pounds," I said, "and I sure as hell don't wear a size 0. How's THAT work?" At that point another associate broke in to say that she thought it had a lot to do with body type because, as she said, "I weigh 115 and I wear a DOUBLE 0." Yeah, I can see how that works. "I guess I just have a big ass," I said. We decided that must be the case. I left the back room grinning about the silliness of the conversation. As I smiled I passed a husband and wife who were just getting up to leave the store. They passed me sort of in single file (like the woman was walking behind the man trying to catch up), and the man took one look at me and said, "What are YOU smiling about?" and kept going. Then the wife said, "Glad to see you're so HAPPY," and SHE kept going. Whoa. Tag-team happiness puncturers. Wonder what their marriage is like?

Oh, and more employee silliness: We have horrible retail music in our store (of course). One of our employees was talking about how she never thought this particular bad one would get stuck in her head; she hadn't been aware that she even knew the ditty well enough to get it stuck in her head. "Usually," she said, "it's that 'American Pride' one." Someone else at the desk sang out, "It's AMERICAN PRIDE," just like the vocalist in the song does, and then THREE of us--myself included--broke into the little backup chorus, going, "Ahh-ahh-ahhhhh!" Then of course we all burst into laughter. One associate revealed that every time that song comes on, she texts her friend who's one of our ex-employees with the message "It's AMERICAN PRIDE!" and the girl texts back "Ahh-ahh-ahhhh!" ::giggle::


A lady called me and said, "Where did I call?" and so I got to repeat myself. Then she explained that someone called her from this number and that it was probably her husband. "Is he there?" she asked, and there was no one around the desk who would have made a call anytime recently, so I told her there was no one nearby. "Well, he called me. You sure he's not there? He has brown hair." Great! Let me go ask all the men in the store who have brown hair if they're someone's husband who just called their wife. Heh.

Some dude came in wanting these particular books put out by the editors of Playboy. They make one about blondes, one about brunettes, and one about redheads. Fascinating. So the dude had found the one about brunettes but it was kinda shelfworn. The weird thing is, he was saying this: "And when I saw them a couple weeks ago, they were bigger than this." I was totally willing to believe that perhaps Playboy had put out different versions of the books, but I only found one in the system of each hair color (heh), and after presenting the man with this he again told me that when he'd seen them last time they had been larger books, then bought the slightly damaged brunettes book and left. Hmph, weird. I guess they shrank after Christmas.

I have a manager with a famously short fuse. She was standing at the desk with me when a woman with a bad case of Ramble Disease approached the desk and began trying to infect us with her sickness. "I ordered a boooooook, and, um, I ordered it? And it was a few weeks ago? Annnnnd it was called . . . ? Oh what was it called, it was something like . . . well it was a little book, and they called me . . . ? And I don't remember, let me find out. . . . " At which point my manager just barked, "WHAT IS YOUR LAST NAME???" Hehe. Sometimes people need to be told "Hey, could you just shut up a second and let US do the asking?"

So today I had another one of those people who thinks they have to badger you in order to get a good job out of you. After looking for a book that it turned out we seemed to be out of, my customer asked me, "Well would it be anywhere else??" Okay see, I don't need to be asked that in order to think of it before you and have already shown you everywhere it could be before I give up. Hello! I'm not gonna go "oh yeah, now that you mention it, let me look all the other likely places it could be." And then after that the lady was like, "Well how many copies does your computer say you have?" Because if it says we have copies, we're just going to have to look harder since they have to be here somewhere, right? I hate the idea that I actually have customers treat me like I'm not already doing everything I can to find their book, or that they have to trick me into working or taking all the steps, or the thought that they think they know more about how to find a book than I do. Gimme a break.

A girl came up to me in the kids' section and said, "I'm looking for TWO books. One is . . . " and went on with her info, and then after she finished talking about the one book and saw I was giving her my attention, she just stopped. Since I wasn't at a computer typing it in or anything and it was a book I already knew where it was, I just said, "Okay," and "uh-huh" at the appropriate places, and then she just stopped talking and stared at me. I patiently waited for her to go on--thinking maybe she was trying to remember her next book question--when suddenly she just got this obscenely bitchy look on her face and barked, "WHAT?" Like, What the hell are you looking at?? kind of "what." I replied, "You said you had two books, I was waiting for you to continue." She 180ed again and I didn't have any more problems with her attitude, but it struck me as pretty weird that she just exploded like that as if it never occurred to her why I might be polite enough to let her finish talking before I acted on her request. Weirdo.


So I was going to the back room to eat some carrots when I pushed the door open and encountered a small child.

"Um, hi, is this the bathroom?" he asked, looking fearful.

I explained that he had not found the bathroom; he had found the employees' private room and stockroom. I offered to show him where the potty was because he looked reaaaally young, I wasn't even sure if he'd be old enough to be able to read the words on the wall when I pointed.

This struck me as relatively insane. He was in there by HIMSELF. Which means that either his mom sent him through a set of unmarked doors alone, or he'd wandered away from Mom long enough to go through a set of unmarked doors in search of the restroom. Something is wrong with both of those things. I don't appreciate it when customers just wander into our back room through a set of UNMARKED DOORS thinking they can just go in even though it's not labeled--I mean seriously, public restrooms are always labeled--but allowing a KID to do that? Poor kid! I ran into his mom on the way showing the kid the bathroom and she thanked me. But jeez.

Encountered an odd pair of dudes at Customer Service today. Both older men (though one seemed to be the father of the other), arguing with me about Bibles. They had two problems: One, they'd found a Bible they wanted but they wanted two of them and there was only one; and two, they'd found an unboxed, unwrapped, unmarked Bible and wanted to know how much it was. I attempted to tackle the second question first and opened the little Bible trying to find an ISBN, but it had nothing on it, which probably means it isn't meant to be sold without either the box or another set or something. Try this on for size: "NOT MARKED FOR INDIVIDUAL SALE." I told the guy that it was not complete and that therefore we would not be able to sell it--it would go to our damages bin and they'd have to send us a replacement. The man's response was pretty much "I don't like what you said, so I'll rephrase it so it's both not what you said and made to sound ridiculous." His actual words were "So you'll have to just keep that on your shelf forever, huh?" That's not what I said. I said we can't sell this and it goes to DAMAGES, not "Yeah I don't know, so I'll just put it on the shelf and let it rot there since it also can't be sold."

Anyway, his first question was regarding the other boxed Bible he was holding, so after typing in its ISBN and getting it on my screen, I asked him what he wanted to know about it. He wanted to know if there was another one, and I told him if there was it would have been on the shelf next to THIS one. "But what does your COMPUTER say?" he persisted, and I explained that the computer can't accurately tell me how many are in the store, it can approximate but it isn't necessarily correct, and it would just tell me to go to the shelf and look where he already looked and found one. He kept pestering wanting to know what the approximation number was, then. Incidentally it said there were supposed to be two in stock. I never tell the customer that, because I've found the computer to be wrong way too many times to trust it or to give people like this dude either false hope or some kind of asinine conviction that the book "must be here someplace" if the computer claims we have two. (Sometimes it says we have zero and we have two, stuff like that.) So I told him it just showed the book's title and price info. He continued to ask questions, wanting to know if I could tell by my computer HOW MANY COPIES THE OTHER STORE WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE. Oh yeah dude. Know what? Please leave.

And then there was the lady shopping off my cart. She came up and asked me if we had any more of some very unpopular series, showing me book 6 of it, and I told her we generally didn't carry it, just like a book here and there, the others we'd have to order. She then revealed that she'd gotten the book off my void cart--books that were getting sent back. Which sucks, because if it's on the void cart, that means I've scanned it into a machine that creates a debit for the company. Which translates to, they expect to have a particular dollar amount in the boxes I send, and since she's gone and SHOPPED FROM IT it's going to be inaccurate if she takes the book. I kind of tried to explain that to her so she'd put it back on, but she was oblivious and said, "Well I'll just take this one then." I didn't really know how (or whether) to . . . you know, stop a customer from buying a book, so I just figured, eh, it must happen here and there anyway that the debit is off by five bucks, and decided not to worry about it. It just bugs me when customers think everything is theirs to touch even when it's stuff that is obviously being unpacked or packed.

Oh, and I saw a customer's ass the other day. I'm not talking about just asscrack. This somewhat heavy kid was sitting on the floor playing Yu-Gi-Oh! with his friends, and I swear to God his whole ASS was out of his pants. I looked in that direction and saw KidsKidsKidsASS!!!KidsKidsKids and thought--Holy bajeezus, my retinas are scarred now, thanks kid.

Shit that was a big ass.


No real dumbness happened today, but there was something cute. We had a big mess going because there was a calendar-discount-stickering party going on since all the calendars went to half off today, so there was junk in piles all over the middle of the floor. A little girl walked by with her dad or something and said, "Daddy, LOOK!" When Dad wanted to know what to look at, the girl said, "It's a BIG MESS!" Awww. . . .

On to February!