And the bad…

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!

7 thoughts on “And the bad…”

  1. Jesus Christ Almighty, I wish my working day was as much fun as yours. I mean, no offense to the people I work with but they are totally sane, regular people. It’s not like we don’t know how to have fun – sometimes we kid around at the coffee machine, and if the cup doesn’t come down it can be hilarious – but I never have days like yours.I was in my local Waterstones on Friday (we have two since Ottakers went, but the independent bookshop closed down last year), spending my traditional gift cards, and I was my usual polite, smiling self (teeth flossed and rinsed with mouthwash). Now I feel stupid. I must have been boring as hell. An invisible customer. I bet I don’t even show up on the security film.I still have over fifty quid’s worth of gift cards left (a combination of cards and vouchers, actually – I prefer the vouchers as I like to know exactly how much I have left to spend). Tomorrow I’m going back in there and I’m going to give them something to damn well blog about.You’re an inspiration, Crowley!Cheers,Bob

  2. Hi Pierre! Season’s greetings to you, I hope all is well?Bob ~ I am glad I have inspired you! The bookseller in me needs to let you know that you should always receive a slip of paper with your gift card balance on each time you make a purchase, as well as when the card is first given to you. No need to lose track of spending!I hope you enjoy your book buying trip tomorrow, do keep me informed!

  3. Poor Sara. My former-bookseller’s heart goes out to you.Three cheers for the ‘invisible’ (á la Bob) customer who (to paraphrase Ray Carver) gets in, gets out, doesn’t linger, goes on. I wish you many of them!The Murakami story is a classic. Why are so many MAD people into books and reading? And writing, for that matter?!Happy New Year!

  4. The problem is that the people we’d actually like to speak to wouldn’t want to bother us as they are too considerate, so we’re left with the idiots and wankers.The Murakami story reminds me of many incidents. It was always a great regret of mine that I couldn’t use the phrase ‘you fucking stupid bitch/prat…’ without having to worry about getting the sack.At least restaurant staff can spit in people’s food if they don’t like them. Booksellers don’t have the same weapons at their disposal.

  5. I used to work in a Waterstones in Dublin, and I think my favourite of the Christmas cranks that year was a woman that came in looking for a book whose author she’d forgotten, but the book was called ‘The Funny Incident of The Cat’. I suggested that maybe she wanted ‘The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time’ and though she was pretty adament that she was right, she said that she’d recognise it if she saw it. So I picked up a copy of the book from the GIANT display right beside us and showed it to her. She said, oh yes, that’s the one. I was about it ring it through and then (like the fool that I am) I said, the author’s a guy called Mark Haddon. She stops dead and says, oh no, the book I want isn’t by anyone of that name. I said, but you do want The Curious Incident, and it’s about a kid who’s autistic, etc, and she agreed that it was definitley the right book, but she wanted ‘the other verion by the other guy’ and when I refused to fetch this other version, she threatened to tell my manager I was uncooperative, and left without buying anything. She was just great.

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