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So You Want to Work in a Bookstore: Lesson 6 | Here’s to Re-Reading the Wimpy Kid Series for Xmas

If you’re not going to listen to what I tell you, then why did you ask me in the first place?  This one’s for all those customers that will ask for a book and then question everything I do to find it for them.  I work here.  I have worked here for a long time.  Please, stop judging me only by my incredibly handsome face, I also know what the hell I’m doing.  So shut up, just shut up.  If you were so great at finding books, why’d you even ask for my help?

Guy:  Yeah, can you help me?  My kid wants this book, it’s called Alice, by Stacy Cordially.  And I need some, what are they, wimpy diaries?

Me: Ok, we might have a copy of Alice in our Biography section, and then I’ll take you back to our Kids’ department.

Guy: Why are you looking here?

Me: Because Alice is a biography.

Guy: Oh.  Is it supposed to be here?

I always want to ask them why I would be looking for a book that was not supposed to be here.  Why?  Why would I see that we had zero in the store and go look for it anyway?  How stupid do you people think we are, that we would look for something that does not exist?

Guy: Why are you looking under R, her name’s Alice.

Me: She was a Roosevelt, so it’s supposed to be under R.

Guy: But it’s not there, great.

Me: I don’t know, that’s why I’m looking at the shelf.

I’m muttering to myself while scanning the shelves.  She was born a Roosevelt but married a Longworth, maybe its under L?  Not there, double-check R, just in case.  I know this because I looked at the cover of the book.  This isn’t time consuming research I did, I read the cover.  Problem is, the book came in back in March.  March to December.  We’re three days out from Christmas and this book hasn’t been seen since March.  This book could be anywhere.

Me: All right, I’m going to check in the back for Alice, but I’ll take you back to the Children’s Department, and you can take a look at the Wimpy Kid books.

Guy: Yeah, where are those wimpy books, are you going to show me those?  Where is that?

Me: Yes.  They’re in the… I’m taking you there right now.

We get back there, I point out the newest book and the new blank diary that looks just like the main character’s diary.  That’s pretty cool.  I assumed he would just need the newest book in the series since Wimpy Kid is like crack to these kids.  They swift fury and determination with which they pre-order these books is unparalleled outside of sci-fi/fantasy fandoms.

Guy: We have up until the last three or something, where’s the rest of them?

Me: The rest of them are on the shelf here, they’re numbered on the side, here’s 5 and 7.  Let me check for number six.

Guy:  Aren’t these numbered, who are you supposed to know the order they go in?

Me:  Yeah.  There are numbers on the side.  That’s… that’s the order they go in.  Ok, here’s number six, there’s also a boxed set with five through—

Guy:  But you don’t have book three?

Me:  Why… you said you had that one.  You needed the last three.

Guy:  Which ones are those?

Me:  Five, six and seven.

Despite having them in my hand and holding them out to him while I say this, the guy turns around and starts scanning the shelf, then pulls off books 5 and 7.  I try to point this out to him, but he doesn’t hear me.  He’s searching for book 6, which I had to get from another display because it wasn’t on the shelf.  Which he should know, because he was standing there the entire time. 

Guy:  Well that’s too bad though, you don’t have book three.

Me:  You don’t need… forget it.  I’m going to go find Alice.

That was under C in Biography, mistakenly shelved by the author’s last name, which was Cordery.  I’ll see you the day after Christmas when you want to exchange your Wimpy Kid books for the ones I tried to sell you in the first place.  You won’t have the receipt either will you?

So You Want to Work in a Bookstore: Lesson 4 | the Captain (again)

This is the Captain: the Prequel.  Christmas 2012.  My first experience with the legend himself.  If I asked a few of the booksellers I’ve worked with over the years, I’d probably have more stories about this guy than anyone else.  He likes looking at the nudies over in our Newsstand.  He likes describing them loudly but in his defense, the Captain would do this whether or not anyone was around. That’s makes it sound like he’s not a bad guy, right?  Maybe he’s just, you know, not rowing with both oars in the water?

Well, at this point, he’s been told enough times.  He’s been told not to describe these pictures at the top of his lungs.  He’s been told not to show said pictures to other customers.  Whether or not he understands this behavior is wrong doesn’t matter.  It’s been made clear that he should not do it.  Or at least we thought it was.

I get called over to our coffee shop because there’s someone acting… well, a little weird.  He’s been talking to himself for a while, rearranging items on the counter, he went up to someone in line and sniffed them, he’s ripping open sugar packets on the condiment bar and making little Sweet ‘n Low mountains.  I watch him for a bit.  He sees me watching him.  He abandons his Splenda ski-run and makes a b-line for our display of chai tea cartons lined up in front of the espresso machine.  I make my move.

Me: Is there anything I can help you with?

the Captain: Oh, what do you want?  You’re here to throw me out?

Me: Yes sir, you need to leave…

the Captain: And who are you?  You the boss?  You’re the captain?

Me: No sir, I’m not a Captain, but I am the—

He touches the brim of his captain’s hat and winks at me, the son of a bitch.

the Captain:  You know what you need?  You should have some of those marshmallows, those little marshmallows.  Do you have any of those back there?

Me: I’m afraid I don’t have any marshmallows..

I’ve been herding him towards the front doors during our exchange.  Each time I step in front of his path he adjusts to avoid me, which is remarkable as he refuses to look at me.  It’s not far now, perhaps thirty feet or so to the front doors.

the Captain: Let me ask you a question—  I’m going!  Before, let me ask you, do I have time to pick up a woman?  On my way out?

Me: No, you do not have time to pick up a woman.

the Captain: Not even one of these?

He points at a female customer we’re passing and asks her if she’s a librarian.  He walks away before she can answer as there are four other women nearby he must ask as well, and I apologize quickly before following after and attempting to steer him left to the doors.

Me: No!  No one here is a librarian!  I’m sorry about him, I’m so sorry.  No, she is not a librarian either!

the Captain: And what about you?  Christmas shopping!  Huh?

Me: The extent of my Christmas shopping is none of your concern..

the Captain: Hey, let me ask you a question—

Me: Ok, I’m just going to call the cops now..

So You Want to Work in a Bookstore: Lesson 3 | the Chief

This guy looks a lot like one of my little league coaches, the one affectionately referred to as ‘Chief Swings-the-Bat.’  Think Gary Farmer if you ever saw Dead Man.  No?  The Score?  C’mon, that was pretty good.  Edward Norton, Robert De Niro; it was Marlon Brando’s last film.  All right, what about Smoke Signals?  Whatever.  So here’s Chief Gary Farmer, long hair and all.  He has on a dark zip-up windbreaker over a ratty t-shirt and sweatpants.  I got the feeling these were his nice sweatpants.

Chief: I’m looking for rats.

Me: Rats or books on rats?

Chief: Books

Me: Ok, good.  Do you mean books on keeping a pet rat?

Chief: No, just rats.  You know, rats.  What they eat, where they live, their natural enemies besides cats.

Me: Right.  Well, there’s nothing in the store at the moment.  There is a lot we can order that comes up in our ‘Pets’ section.  They should have that kind of information in them.

Chief: Ok, where are those?

Me: No, no, we don’t have any in the store.  We’d have to order them.

Chief: Can you give you give a print out of everything so I can look them up online?

Me: Yeah, whatever.  Here you go.

Chief: Yeah.  Where are your movies about seahorses?

Cemetery Gates Media

Cemetery Gates Media is a publisher of horror, paranormal, and fantasy fiction based in Binghamton, N.Y.

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