Bookseller notes

The first customer of the day asks me where the book he has ordered is. I tell him it has not yet arrived. It has only been a day since the order was placed. He is furious, he yells, repeatedly points at me, yells some more.  “You are my target,” he shouts. “You are my target.” 

A customer asks if we have a novel by Vernon Little – something about a dog? I ask if possibly she means a book called Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre. She is adamant that is not it. It is by a man called Vernon Little. It’s about a dog. Could it be The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time? I ask – knowing how unlikely that is. No. My colleague goes to the shelf and brings Vernon God Little over to the counter. That’s the one she says. No thanks, no apology.
A man is dragging his toddler down the stairs.
“Deal with it,” he says. “Get over it. That’s life.”
A woman asks for a book that may help her understand why three of her kids have attempted suicide. I don’t think there’s a book in the world that can do that. I recommend contacting CAMHS or MIND. She asks me if I can meet her for coffee as I’m the first person who has shown her any kind of understanding.
A young, beautiful couple come in and ask if we have a biography on a particular British actor. The man tells me he is a huge fan of the actor in question. I notice how he dresses like him and has similar stubble. Yes, a new biography is available and we have a copy on our third floor. The couple are elated. The man punches the air.
“I knew it,” he says. “I dreamt this would happen.”
“He does that,” his girlfriend says. “He has dreams that come true.”


14 thoughts on “Bookseller notes”

  1. Wow, new levels of surrealism attained. The combination of your day's events is just staggeringly bizarre! Who are these people? The woman who wanted a book about suicide, I have no words, that's just too tragic. And that you're the first person who has shown her understanding, that's deeply sad too, but well done for taking the time to talk to her.

  2. All in a day's work, eh?You know though, as you do wear your heart on your sleeve, donor seekers will immediately attach to you and they'll see you before you see them coming!

  3. Not a day's work that would leave me feeling very positive about society. Do you make recommendations to people beyond what they ask for? I bet there is some fun to be had with that. I feel terrible for the suicides lady, though.

  4. Bizarre – how has retail become therapy and punchbag? And particularly booksellers for some reason (although the staff on cosmetic counters are similarly prey to certain kinds of illogic) which must make your job rather stressful.Is it material or is it an obstacle course?

  5. I love this post. It reminds me of a supermarket queue where, if you peer into people's baskets, you catch a brief insight into how different their lives must be. It's terrifying, really.

  6. oooh so many stories to be gleaned…what an immense day S, and kudos for talking to the woman with the kids…the world needs people like you, making connections, reaching out sometimes. I hate it when I see people dragging toddlers about…one woman on the bus was holding onto a kid who was screaming she looked at me and said, don't worry she will turn blue before I let go of her. Mad world, eh?

  7. brilliant! sounds a bit like a day at the library where I work … people often say that it must be peaceful working in a library or book shop, thank you for showing that you have to be some kind of social worker as well :=)

  8. Thanks y'all! You couldn't make it up! And yes, there's a lot of sadness too in people. So many desperate to just make contact. I have several "regulars" who pop in for a chat I think.

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