I used to write about some of the stranger, funnier, or more demanding bookshop customers I had. They were always very popular posts and I enjoyed sharing them. Then a couple of pals told me another bookseller/writer had begun blogging about her customers and asked how I felt about it. I said I didn’t have ownership on amusing anecdotes, and I felt not much of anything about it. I couldn’t see that it was any kind of a problem. Then this person got a deal to publish a book of these ha ha customers. We have some mutual bloggy/writer pals but we’re not acquainted in any way. I haven’t read the book or her blog. Yet I stopped writing my own bookshop blether because I became self-conscious. I suppose I worried that people would think I was copying her (yes, even though I have blog evidence that I was doing it way back when.) Curious. 

Anyhow, I’ve just been tidying my desk and come across piles of notes. One includes an exciting message to myself:

Wince at the light
How do you know
How do I know

You may be surprised to hear that this note has not unlocked my novel. In fact I have no clue what it means at all.

Other notes are things I’ve jotted down about customers. All true.

Scary man shouts that the order I’ve just given him can’t be his as he was told it would take 3 weeks and it’s only been 4 days.

A man grabs my hand and kisses it. He leaves a wet patch on my skin and I feel sick.

A man hands my colleague a book. Colleague zaps book and asks if customer would like a bag. Customer shakes head. Colleague asks if he has a Waterstones card? Would he like a stamp card? Customer shakes head and doesn’t open mouth. As customer leaves he leans over desk, opens mouth to reveal a froth of plentiful white saliva and spittle, and gurgles, “Goodbye”.

Customer asks for a copy of “The Girl With the Dragon Toe”.

A woman says she’s been harassed by building society staff who called the police when she told them she would smash their windows. She says she always gets in trouble because of her anger. She asks me if she should go upstairs for a cup of coffee or go to church and sit quietly with a cup of tea. I recommend tea and quiet. She asks if I can find her a man. She has a black eye. She says she drinks too much and doesn’t know how she got it. She says I am a nice person and asks where I work. I tell her “Here, in the bookshop,” and she says she thought I must be a professional carer as I’m making her feel so much calmer. She leaves smiling.

A man asks me to recommend a book. I ask what books he has previously enjoyed and he shouts, “Never judge a book by it’s cover.”

A skinny man talks with the slowest speech pattern I’ve ever known. He maintains constant eye contact, monotones, does not smile. 

An angry woman asks if we sell books on how to control anger.

6 thoughts on “Notes

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  1. I love your anecdotes too so please don't stop (as long as you're still there!) but here's one the other way round ….I was in a Waterstones (not my local) the other day paying for my books when the girl at the desk pushed The Night Circus into my hands. I asked her about it, she burst into tears. It's so beautiful, she sobbed (loudly enough to cause concern) too beautiful to describe but I really needed to buy it and assure her I was capable of appreciating the treat I was about to enjoy. Such love!

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