If last Saturday was traditionally the busiest, this Saturday was the grumpiest. What the fuck was wrong with everyone? In they came in their hoards, searching out bargains, spending their chrismas gift cards, grim faced and utterly pissed off. I don’t get it. Nobody forced them to go shopping, presumably they have had a couple of days off work, and unlike me were still off. They had money to spend, and there were (still are) some ace bargains to buy.
Nothing was good enough. If a book was half price it still wasn’t a bargain. If it was hardback they wanted paperback, if it was paperback they wanted hardback. A man furiously jiggled a baby in a sling whilst firing questions at me, as soon as I tried to find the answer on the computer he would hiss “I have to go, I have a baby”, and then ask another question.
A stereotypical dirty old man mumbled that he wanted something I couldn’t hear, and finally spelled out E R O T I C. I took him to the erotic fiction shelf and left him moaning to himself. All this time a christian (yes, he told me he was) man circled my counter for over an hour, pausing occasionaly to tell me how much he appreciated the help I gave him. His breath was foul, and I recoiled each time he puffed more thanks my way.
My utter twunt of the day award goes to the woman who came in and asked to exchange a book. She had no receipt but it was a book we stocked she said, and she wanted to swap it for another by the same author. No problem. She told me I probably wouldn’t know the author, as she has quite unusual taste. Righto.
It was Murakami.
I know who he is, I told her. Which book did you want?
She said she didn’t know the title but that it was something running.
Oh, I said, that’s going to be on the third floor in sports.
No, she replied, it’s fiction. FICTION.
She ennunciated each letter.
No, it’s about running. I said. I felt myself get hot and red and pissed off. It’s called “What I talk about when I talk about running.” Running is a passion of his.
He is a FICTION writer she insisted.
Yes he is, but he has also written this non-fiction book, so we don’t keep it in the fiction section.
I have read lots of Murakami, he is a fiction writer.
Yes, and I sell fiction books, I work in a bookshop, and I know what I am doing! The book is in the running section in Sports.
Oh, well, I don’t want it then.
And she left.
No apology, no embarrassment.
Still, at least no-one soiled themselves this week!