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Back in the bookshop

A man stood at the counter, leaning towards me as I searched my computer for a book that he was interested in. I could see him picking at spots on his face, pick pick pick, then he rolled the skin, scab, pus, whatever, between his fingers and dropped it onto the floor.
I gave him A Hard Look, but he carried on. It made it difficult to concentrate.
When I gave him his change I was really careful not to make physical contact.

A woman and a boy asked for help finding a book. I told them that the book they wanted was located on the fourth floor. The woman looked a bit peeved, so I helpfully said I would call up and see if they could send the book down, which they did. Her son had a bookmark in his hand, it was a paper bookmark with a piece of string that attached a Harry Potter emblem to it. The mum said the boy wanted to pay by himself. Sure. I smiled, I took the cash, I offered a bag, I gave the receipt.
He tugged at the plastic doodah.
‘Don’t pull that,’ the mum said. ‘It will come off.’
He pulled again. They walked 2 steps away from the counter. The woman turned and came back, holding out the broken bookmark.
‘This is broken,’ she said. ‘What are you going to do about it?’

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6 responses »

  1. oh Sara, you do get the loveliest customers. I hope you will eventually get some nice, clean, polite customers for a change.

    Reply
  2. Blimey, I do not envy you… You could get a whole book out of these fascinating blog posts-life is a bookseller. I guess we should be thankful people are still reading, but can’t they at least wait til they get home to squeeze their spots? Yeuch!

    Reply
  3. Ah Sara, I have posted “your” story, and also wanted to add a little solidarity, as I once spent 6 months working as a bookseller and feel your pain. But it was great because everyone who worked there was a struggling wannabe novelist, artist or musician. It was like some bohemian hideout, behind the annoying customers.My fave was a lady who came in and said, “I’m looking for a book… I don’t know what it’s called or who it’s by but it’s about this big and it’s blue.”I think I replied, “right, I’ll just search under ‘blue cover’ for you…”

    Reply
  4. Dear editor,thanks for the solidarity!It is amazing how many people do think that one will know the big blue book isn’t it. Crazy arse world!Thanks for posting ‘my’ story.sara

    Reply
  5. Hi Sara, I think I know your acne squeezer. He used to come into the bookshop I worked in, only in those days, he used to pick his nose and wipe the ensuing treasure on the pages of whatever book he was leafing through. Nice chap.

    Reply
  6. Hello zoe!Eeeeew, nose goooo, eeeeeeeeeew!

    Reply

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