Some customers are content to ask just one bookseller a question and call it a day. Some customers prefer to ask every bookseller they can find the exact same question for a variety of reasons, from the completely innocent to the downright mean-spirited; they’re crazy, they’re 104 and don’t remember the answer, they called the first bookseller stupid to their face because they didn’t like the answer—it could be anything. But then there are the customers who prefer to ask multiple questions of multiple booksellers as though there were not several dozen other people in line also waiting to ask questions.
As I survey the crowd in front of the information desk, which, at three days before Christmas is more zombie hoard than multiple lines, I offer to help whoever is next. This is like throwing the bouquet at a wedding.
Crazy-Eyed Woman: Yes, I have another question.
Me: Well, the other girl was helping you already, she can—
Crazy-Eyed Woman: I’m looking for a book for—
Me: You’re just going to ask anyways though…
Crazy-Eyed Woman: Yes. I was looking for a book for a family of six; ages 6 to 62. Can you suggest something?
I think to myself its kind of like that Christmas song, if it had been on a strict holiday budget—which, I found out later was actually named the Christmas Song—you know, instead of 1 to 92. All this time I thought it was ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’.
I bet there’s someone out there that gives a shit about that fun fact. There is, actually, I helped him two weeks ago. I looked up the oldest Christmas song still used and found him a book with the history of Christmas carols. We had a lovely conversation. He didn’t buy the book. Why would he? My time isn’t worth anything.
I don’t make my comment about the Christmas song. She wouldn’t get it. She doesn’t deserve my witty banter.
Me: You want something for the whole family? They’re going to read it together?
Crazy-Eyed Woman: Yes.
Me: Like a Christmas picture bo—
Crazy-Eyed Woman: No!
Doesn’t want that. Isn’t going to offer me any clues. I say clues because she clearly knows exactly what she wants. Whatever I recommend is going to be received with a simply ‘no.’ The problem is that she knows exactly what she wants, and that thing does not exist. Only this very specific imaginary book she just decided she needs immediately will do and nothing I recommend will fill the void of her under-medicated soul. I look around. Really, I turn in a circle and try to think of something, as much so she won’t see me roll my eyes as to spot something on one of the nearby table I can throw at her as a distraction while I make a run for it.
Me: And it was six to—
Crazy-Eyed Woman: To sixty-two years young!
That is not a thing. I hate you and everyone who uses that phrase. Except my grandmother, that sounds like something she might say. She’s allowed to, my grandmother’s adorable—but the rest of you need to stop.
Me: Yeah, I have no idea, that’s really a ridiculous question. Here comes the girl with your other book. She might know. Can I please help who was actually next?