Last year a book came out titled Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores and it was composed by Jen Campbell. Most of the quotes came from her time working in a couple of bookstores in England, but others came from booksellers in the US and Canada. It’s a quick read – I read it in just a day (ironically, I read it on Christmas, one of the two days that my bookstore closes for the year). Just when you think you’ve heard it all, though, someone opens her mouth…
I’ve had my fair share of the weird and funny, as have my coworkers. We swap stories so we can get a laugh because even though we work in a bookstore and not an emergency room, things sometimes get stressful.* In honor of Campbell’s book, here is a little compilation of my own and my coworkers’ (with my inner sarcastic remarks in parentheses as well).
Do you have Brains for Dummies or Dummies for Brains – one of those? (You obviously do.)
Little boy: Does this cost free? (It was cute until he yelled at his mom 10 minutes later, “You WILL buy me something!)
Grandmother: Star Wars is fiction, right? (No, it’s real. My Millennium Falcon is getting some detail work done at the moment.)
Where’s your Oprah Book Club section?
Where’s your birthday book section? You know, the books you would give to someone on their birthday. (All around you, lady.)
Do you have How to Draw Stick Figures for Dummies? (There is no such book, but give me $50 and I’ll teach you, dummy.)
Grandma: Do you have a younger version of Harry Potter? There’s no way my granddaughter could read something so big!
Granddaughter: Yes, I can! I’ve already read the first three books.
Grandma: So, is there anything for younger readers?
Me: No, these are the only Harry Potter books that there are. You could always watch the movies if the books are too hard.
Grandma: They made a movie?
Me: They made eight. (Have you been living under a pile of rocks for the past 15 years?)
Customer: Where is your non-fiction section?
Me: It’s 3/4 of the store. Is there a particular subject or book I can show you?
Customer: I want to browse gift books; books that I can give as gifts. Like cookbooks.
Me: Our cookbook section is right here.
Customer: But I want non-fiction books!
Me: *blank stare
Customer: I don’t want to give just cookbooks! I also want to look at your history books or anything that would be a good gift to get. Could you just show me what section that would be in?
Me: I’m afraid I don’t understand what you want.
Customer: I want the non-fiction section!
Me: *sweeps arm over 3/4 of the store It’s all right there.
That’s all I have…for now, anyway. But I want to leave you with a story that I wish I could have witnessed myself. This comes from part time bookseller who seems to get more than her fair share of the weird:
A customer was sitting at a table in our cafe. He was checking his messages on speaker phone. One message was from his pharmacy telling him (and the rest of the cafe) that his Viagra was ready for pick-up. The man quickly packed up his stuff and left the store. What poetic justice for disrupting the peace!
*Why is it that some people think that working in a bookstore is relaxing and that we get to sit around and read on the clock? Those books don’t shelve themselves!