Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Other Disgruntled Booksellers

I was on the North Shore of Long Island this past weekend for a friend's wedding. As I always do when traveling, I found an excuse to drop by the local outpost of Big Bookstore. I had just picked the bride up from the hair salon the morning of the wedding and dropped her off at home, and had a couple of hours to kill before the wedding. I thought I'd grab a copy of the New York Times, and perhaps my local paper, and have a leisurely brunch at a diner. Imagine my surprise to find that I could find neither. I circled the newsstand twice to be sure that I hadn't, somehow, missed the newspaper rack. Then, to confirm my suspicions, I checked the Cafe tables. Sure enough, I could see no newspapers (or parts thereof) scattered about the Cafe. Even the most well-maintained store would find it impossible to keep the Cafe free of newspapers on a weekend morning.

Instead, I grabbed a magazine, and headed for the registers. There was a line. There had been only one cashier when I walked in, a sullen, pouty, pimply boy, who had called for and received backup in the form of an openly hostile older woman named "Pat." I'd love to tell you what Sullen Pimple Boy's name was, but he wore no badge - one of the cardinal sins of Big Bookstore. There appeared to be no other booksellers in the store.

I waited patiently, observing the open hostility with which Pat treated those in front of me. She didn't really say anything objectionable, but the resentment and animus flowed off of her in visible waves, like stench rising from roadkill on a hot, hot day. There were no pleasantries - not even a "thank you." And everything, from closing her register drawer to returning change, was done with a little too much force, making it clear that she was not happy with having to serve the customers. She demanded three cents of the poor little girl (no more than 10) in front of me, who was purchasing something for $3.03. She didn't ask. She demanded and held out her hand. Because apparently, making change was more than Pat could bear.

When it was my turn, Sullen Pimple Boy was free. This was Pat's luck, because I was ready to tear her a new anus if she so much as looked cross-eyed at me. You see, as much as I hate the customers, I treat them with the utmost respect, because that is what Big Bookstore pays me to do. When I got to Sullen Pimple Boy's register I asked him whether they carried newspapers and said that I had looked but couldn't find them. He snapped in an accusatory tone, "we don't carry them anymore because people left them scattered around the store." I said, "Yes. They do. But you know, I work at a flagship Big Bookstore, and if we stopped carrying everything that people left strewn about the store, we wouldn't have anything left to sell, and then," I paused for effect, "we wouldn't have jobs."

So, if you are reading this, and you are a sullen, pimple-faced boy, or your name is Pat, and you are a hostile, old bitch, and you work at the Big Bookstore on Jericho Turnpike? You suck, and this post's for you.


Blogger Elmira G. said...

Okay Disgruntled bookseller. I must say that during my sentence at Big Bookstore, I don't think I ever treated the customer with the "UTMOST RESPECT." I tried to be respectful enough for plausible deniability, but I think a little scorn always came through. However, kudos to you for the effort.

By the way, I miss you all, if not the behemoth itself. I may yet find myself one more member of the "can't completely sever the umbilical cord" part-time crew.

11:09 PM  
Blogger ereshkigal said...

Yay! I knew you wouldn't leave for good. Nobody ever really leaves Big Bookstore.

And, yeah. "Utmost respect" was probably a wee bit hyperbolic. But I do try not to let my scorn show, and effort counts for something, right?

2:24 AM  

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