Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Video Blog~ Hello, My Name Is...


This is Peter Hill (circa 90's) btw, just in case you're curious.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bookstore Chronicles: Countdown to Xmas #4

Most of my job involves answering people's questions. Some of the questions are good, some are funny, some are stupid, and some are exhausting.

Here are a few of the most common ones:

"Where are the bathrooms?"

Ok. I can't really fault people for asking where the bathrooms are. I've had to do it in restaurants...I don't like wandering aimlessly past people sitting down to dinner. They all know you're up for a pee. And for some reason that makes me uncomfortable.

But I swear sometimes I just get tired of answering. I'd love to just say "Under the sign that says 'Restrooms.'"

"I don't know. Where am I?" [in response to us asking if they have a store membership card]

This one I DO have a problem with. How do you not know where you are??? Did you walk into the store with your eyes closed? Shouldn't the fact that you're surrounded by books be a massive clue?

The perfect gift for these people? Watch the video.

You'd be surprised at just how many people ask this question. Especially when they whip out their checkbooks. You can see them covertly trying to glimpse the name of the store on something. And if they do know where they are, they're looking around to see how to spell it. And they still spell it wrong anyway.

"Do you work here?"

This question is usually asked when I'm wearing my nametag (that has the store name printed boldly on it), carrying a huge pile of books, or using a scanner to organize a section with books scattered all around me. Sweaty, dusty, hair in my eyes, kneeling on the floor...

I'm so tempted to say 'Nope' and continue scanning. Just to see what they'd do.

"Can I check out here?" [strolling up to Customer Service]

Once again, I can't really fault people for not knowing we can't check them out there. It's not like we have any signs saying "No Registers". I usually tell people jokingly, "If there's no line, it's too good to be true."

I do feel a bit like a flight attendant though. My reply is always, "There are no registers here, but you can check out at either end of the store," whilst simultaneously pointing to either end of the store. Trust me, if you don't do the hand gestures, they just look at you with a blank stare. I almost poked my co-worker K in the eye doing this the other day.

"Kyna, where's K?"

"Um...she had to run over to the drugstore to buy an eyepatch. Sorry."


I DO fault people for getting an attitude with us because we don't have registers at Customer Service. 75% the people are very nice about it and go on their merry way. The other %25 will literally ask, "Why not?" with an angry glare.

This last week of shopping before Christmas has been the worst in terms of attitudes. I'm a veteran retail worker, so I expect it. But when it comes, you're still shocked at how horrible people can be to each other.

Saturday, I wrote a blog about it being the biggest shopping day of the year. And it WAS. Can't reveal how much money we made obviously, but I will say that it was a record for the store. We've been open for just about 3 years, and in all that time we've never made more money in a single day. It was INSANE.

Along with the sales, came the shenanigans.

There were TWO big, nasty messes to clean up in the men's bathroom that day.

If you're eating breakfast, you may want to put down that bagel for a second or continue reading this post later on.

Someone either had the stomach flu really bad, or was hungover like a mofo. I'm betting on the second one.

It looked like the possessed girl from 'The Exorcist' paid us a visit.

Like someone had puked whilst pirouetting. It was a fountain of vomit. Walls, floor, toilet...it even was oozing into other stalls.

The clean-up job required two of our male employees to roll up their sleeves. They managed to clean up the mess, but the smell lingered. The morning cleaning ladies had to bleach everything the next day. I can't believe no one quit over that.

Later on that same day, I was helping customers when the boyfriend of one of my co-workers came up to me and said "Um, just letting you know there's blood in the bathroom."

Seriously. As soon as I was done with the customers, I had to go hunt down male employees again to go check it out. One of them refused to go because it involved blood.

One of our newbies volunteered to check it out (big kudos to him) and clean it up. He came out afterwards and said that it looked as though someone had cut their hand really badly, and flicked it all over the wall and urinals.

Ok, gross stuff over. You can pick up your bagel again. If you have any appetite left.

I served a few 'interesting' customers.

One old guy came up and I helped him out with his question with no problems. Sometimes I dread helping old people (I know, I'm a doucheface) because they don't know what they're looking for half the time and it takes forever. (I'm a DOUCHEFACE, I know, I know!)

As he was about to walk away, he turned and said, "Oh, I have one more question..."

Of course he did. "Yes?"

"Have you sold a lot of the new George Bush book?"

"Yes, we've sold a ton of them. It's very popular."

"You still have some?" he asked. "A lot of places have sold out."

"Yep, we still have some. We sold out a couple of times ourselves, but we have them now."

He looked as though he expected me to start gushing over it. "Have you read it?"

Sigh."No, I haven't."

"Why? You're probably just not into good leadership."

I usually keep my political opinions to myself. Politics, religion, war...I never discuss these subjects with customers. You're not going to change anyone's opinions, and it'll probably escalate into a brawl.

I had to supress the urge to reply "Good leadership?? Are we still talking about George W. Bush here?"

Instead I replied, "Well, I do appreciate good leadership. But I'm Canadian, and I spent most of W's presidency in Canada." I was trying to divert the conversation. Usually when I bring up Canada, people ask, "How did you end up here?", and so on, until we're talking about hockey or maple syrup or something.

Old Man Bush wouldn't be diverted. "Well, if you want to read about a REAL leader, you'd read this book. EXCELLENT writing. Great man. You should read it."

My co-worker C kept walking past and she had the funniest smirk on her face because she was listening.

"Like I said, I'm Canadian..."

C remarked to me later on that she'd never heard me pull the Canadian card so many times in one conversation. I just couldn't handle the Bush-love any longer than I had to endure it.

At least the guy wasn't a jerk or anything. I got one of those the next day.

At my store, we have a feature where you can go on the website, see if your local store has a copy of it, and put in an online reservation for it. We then put your name on the book, and put it on hold.

The other night I got a couple of online reservations from the same person for some kid's books. I went to search them down pretty much immediately after they popped up on the screen.

I go into the children's department and I pick out one of the books...and I start to sense someone quietly following me. Ninja-like. He didn't make a move to talk to me...he kind of just inched closer to where I was. I could see all this out of the corner of my eye.

I find the other book, and finally I turn around and there's this short, bald, beady-eyed man standing RIGHT behind me.

"Yes?" I said. "Can I help you?

He points to the books I have in my hand. "I think those are mine."

He must have made the online reservation from his phone whilst IN the store, because I had gone to fill the order immediately. "Oh, ok here you go!..." I said, and started to hand him the books.

"SHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" he says, and points angrily towards his two children, who are standing a few feet away from him. He was looking at me like I had just pissed all over Christmas.

I was PEEVED. I'm a mind reader, so I should have known those were his kids, right?

It's not my fault that he brought his kids with him to 'secretly' buy THEIR presents.

I silently held out his books and he looks even more irritated at my moronic actions. 'Well, take them up to the front!' he hisses.

Well, that's what I was about to fucking DO, idiot. Before YOU stopped me.

I just silently turned on my heel and walked away. Absolutely steaming mad. Yeah, buddy. I ruined Christmas for your kids. That's my job. You're welcome.

And then there were the ungrateful people.

My co-worker S, who I mentioned in my last blog post as a weirdo-magnet, found a credit card in the Sci-Fi section yesterday.

She brought it up to me, and I was going to go lock it in the drawer up front. My co-worker M suggested that we make an announcement in case the person who lost it was still in the store. I admit that I was a dumbass for not thinking of that, and I said it was a good idea.

M paged the person (let's call him John Smith. Ok, that's boring... let's call him Horatio Buttsmacker) over the loudspeaker, and 30 seconds later a man shows up to the desk with a teenager in tow.

"Can we help you?" I ask.

"I'm Horatio Buttsmacker." he replies.

M smiles at him, "We called you up because we found your credit card. Here you go!" She holds it out.

He isn't smiling, and makes no move to take the card. "That's impossible. That's not my card. I have my card.""

"But you said you're Horatio Buttsmacker. Look, here's your name on this card," M holds it up.

He pulls out his wallet. "But I have my card. Look, here it is." He does indeed pull out a card that looks identical. He still makes no move to take the card we found with his name on it.

"Oh, well do you have someone with you that would have a copy of your card?" Because this is obviously his effing card. His name wasn't a common name.


"Well sir...this has your name on it..." We were repeating ourselves, but what else does one say? He finally takes the card.

He turns to the teen and says, "Where's your grandma?" and strides away from the desk. I guess Grandma can't keep track of her cards very well.

No "Thank you for finding my card!" Nothing!

I should have just said, "You're right, it's my card. Silly me. My name's Horatio Buttsmacker too! What a coincidence! Sorry about the mix up. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go buy that diamond necklace I've had my eye on..."

And now it's time for the Wiener of the Week!

This week's winner is....Mullet Guy!!

Yesterday I was walking through the Sci-Fi section and spotted the most epic mullet I've ever seen in my life.

The Mullet to crush all other Mullets.

This guy had his hair shaved to within a 1/2 inch of his scalp all the way down to the nape of his neck, and then there were 2 feet of long, luxurious, curly tresses down his back.

I wish I had had my camera.

It was the kind of hairstyle that prompted one to tell everyone to casually walk past the section for a look at this thing.

My co-worker V walked up to Customer Service a short while later and we asked her if she'd seen the Mullet Guy.

She said, "You mean Billy Ray Cyrus over there?"

HILARIOUS. Business in the front, party in the back. Mullet Guy's mullet was even more extreme than Billy Ray's though, because the 'business' end was much shorter.

Funniest secondhand bookseller experience of the week?

Once again the winner is my co-worker S with Harmonica Man.

Last week, she was working when a customer rolls up.

"Hi there, can I help you with something?" she said.

"Hi. Do you play the harmonica?" he asks.

S told me later that she wasn't aware that playing the harmonica was a required skill of working in a bookstore.

"No, I don't," she replies.

"Oh," he says, disappointed."Well, do you have any books on playing the harmonica?" he continues.

"We may have a couple of them," she said. "I think there's a kit we sell that has a book and a harmonica together..."

"Good! Because I need to learn how to play it before Christmas!"

This was last Wednesday. I'm no expert on the harmonica, but I picked one up once and tried it. It's a lot harder than it looks.

Good luck to Harmonica Man, and whomever he plans to serenade with it Bob Dylan-style over the holidays.

Right now we could sell anything to anyone. People are realizing that there's only 3 shopping days left, and they still haven't gotten everything.

The other day a woman hurriedly walks up to Customer Service and asks frantically, "Do you sell Snuggies?????"

I almost felt bad that we didn't, she was so desperate looking.

"No, I'm sorry we don't. But if you're looking for the perfect gift for the Snuggie Wearer that has everything, we do sell "The Snuggie Sutra"!"

Yes, that is an actual book. If we ever find THAT one in the men's bathroom, I'm really going to fear for humanity.

But yeah...people will buy anything right now. One co-worker remarked the other day, "If the last thing we had in this store to sell was a steaming pile of crap, someone would buy it."

Cookbooks, for example. When we first set up the promo tables for Christmas, the cooking section wasn't even being sniffed at.

Now? It's pandemonium. "Shit, I don't know what to get Fred... I know! I'll get him a cookbook!!"

Three days left.

And then the REAL work starts.

Returns, returns, returns.

"Whaddya mean I can't return this board game after I opened it and played with it 20 times? What kind of return policy is that??"

Merry Christmas everyone!!! Don't let the Shifty Santas get you!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's The Most Wonderful Time For A Beeeeer!

Here it is. Finally.

The biggest shopping day of the year.

Some might say I'm wrong.

'Black Friday' in the States you say? Hah. Child's play.

'Boxing Day' in Canada? To that I say bullshit, fiddlesticks and Cockfosters! (that last one was for you, Bub)

Everyone should know that it's the last Saturday before Christmas that is the universal craziest shopping day of the year. Everyone's off work. Everyone just got paid.

I feel like Frodo Baggins. I've just entered Mordor and I'm staring down Sauron.

If you're not a Lord of the Rings geek like me, Sauron may just look like a big, fiery vagina to you. Which would inspire the same feelings of trepidation. So it works.

If I survive this weekend, I'll probably have one more Christmas Countdown post for you next Wednesday.

My brother in law is coming for a visit from Florida today. I love Steve, he's awesome. I lucked out in the in-laws department. I wish I could spend more of it visiting instead of working, but such is the life of a retail worker.

I really suffer for my craft. A bona fide tortured artist.

Ok, I draw the line at cutting off my ear. I wear my hair up a lot.

Hope everybody's last week before Christmas goes well! Shop as much as you can to support your local retailers and keep lovely people like me in a job! :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bookstore Chronicles: Countdown to Xmas #3

A cornucopia of crazies came rollin' on in this week. Christmas is getting close and it's cold outside by NC standards, so I knew they would.

If you sell it, they will come (notice the cornucopia I chose is full of fruit).

Last week, remember how I stated that I become slightly afraid when I get called up to the front for customer assistance? That time it was Logging Lady. This week it was Calendar Guy.

I get up to the front after I hear the page, and the cashier tells me that the customer is looking for an Anne Geddes calendar. You know Anne Geddes...she's the one that dresses babies as cabbages and people think it's cute?

I notice that the customer has an Anne Geddes calendar in his hand already, and I point this out. Call me Captain Obvious.

"This ain't the right one," he replies.

The cashier shows me the picture of the one he wants and he follows me out to the calendar racks. When I say he followed me, I mean he followed me. I mean he practically glued his feet to my feet just in case I got more than two inches ahead of him.

I'm sure all of you have had an encounter with a 'Close Stander'. These people are completely missing that natural chip in their brains that tell them "YOU ARE STANDING TOO CLOSE AND THE OTHER PERSON IS UNCOMFORTABLE". They're the ones that will sit right next to you in an empty movie theater when there are 200 other seats to choose from.

I'm a person that doesn't even like being that close to people I know and like.

I'm sure I get one Close Stander a day at the store. There's one particular lookup computer in the music department that I dread using. It's the only one in the store where the screen and keyboard face towards the customer. So my back is to the customer standing behind me when I'm looking a title up for them. For some reason that gives people the green light to practically dry hump me into the desk.

Anyway, I take Calendar Guy into the section, and he's spouting off compliments about me. Conjure up a "paddle faster, I hear banjo music" sort of accent in your minds.

"You sure are a beautiful lady. You have such pretty eyes, wow you're good-lookin'! And your hair. I love redheads! You're just so beautiful. I guess I should shut up in case my wife comes up behind me. Did I mention how good-lookin' you are???..."

So everyone likes a compliment. I'm not a total dog, so I occasionally get asked for my phone number and I have to flash the wedding ring. But when a 60 year old man is following you so closely that he's practically saddling you up, the compliments become a bit creepy. Especially when they don't stop. I said thank you 5 times, and he still went on.

We get over to the calendar rack in the corner, and he was standing way too close. I backed up around the fixture, and he backed up with me. I was pretty much pressed against the wall. Keep in mind that he's complimenting me the whole time, and simultaneously telling me just how many of those Anne Geddes calendars we should have in the store.

Booksellers are not supposed to tell customers exactly how many of a certain product that we have. We are all human beings, and human beings make errors. Things get put in the wrong place and we can't find them. If a customer knows you can't find something and they've been told that there are 10 copies of it, you look like a total asshole.

"There are 6 of 'em. She told me there were 6, but I just can't find 'em. Did I tell you I think you're pretty and I want to wear your skin as a snowsuit??"

Okay, he didn't say that last part, but it sure felt like he was thinking it.

Creepy McCreeperson.

I just couldn't find him the calendar he wanted, and he finally left with the one he originally had in his hand. And I was left with the intense urge to take a shower and to write" The Twelve Days of a Bookstore Christmas".

Twelve crackheads sleeping,
Eleven children screaming,
Ten CDs stolen,
Nine customers ranting,
Eight fruitcakes raving,
Seven chairs soiled,
Six porn mags hidden,

Fiiiiive piiiink fuuuuuuuzzy booooooks!!

Four Close Standers,
Three strippers limping,
Two tattooed bikers,

...and a Frappuccino spilled on the floooooooor!

Speaking of raving fruitcakes.

The other night I was at customer service, and a dude walks up. I could tell by the shifty look in his eyes that he'd had all sorts of crazy for breakfast that morning. He sounded like Peter Lorre in 'Arsenic and Old Lace'.

"Hey, I'm sorry to bother you but I just wanted to tell you that I was outside the library tonight and I saw the eclipse and I just wanted to tell you that you had better be good yeah and I'll be good and we all need to be good so something bad doesn't happen I see you're probably busy but I just needed to tell you that and you have a good night I'm sorry to bother you..."

Ho.Lee. Shit. I thought I was gonna get stabbed. He seriously was talking like that. I haven't encountered a run-on sentence like that since reading James Joyce. Joyce was kinda crazy like that. But he only had one crazy eye.

I don't know what the hell Eclipse Guy was talking about. The sky did look a little weird around sunset, it was yellowish-green...I don't know. I'm just glad the dude backed up and walked away before I had to call security.

There was porn found in the men's bathroom for the second time this week. I was shelving some books near the cafe when I overheard a customer telling this chick he was with that he had to go to the bathroom and that someone had put a stash of porn in there.

I turned around. "Did you just say there was porn in the bathroom?"

He looked at me like he wished I hadn't heard so that he could go in and look at it again. "Yeah."

I sent our assistant manager in there with a pair of gloves. He came out carrying two books. One was a large Kama Sutra photo book, and the other was "Sex For Dummies".

The Kama Sutra I can understand. "Sex For Dummies"?? Who the hell uses "Sex For Dummies" as spank bank material? "Ooh, I get all turned on by educational descriptions, semi-witty quips and crude ink drawings!" I suppose it's not that weird...after all, there are people out there who like it when people paddle them or pee on them. But I can even understand THAT more than I can understand someone getting off on "Sex For Dummies".

Why do people even need 'how-to' sex books anyway? This is one of our most popular ones:

Where's the imagination? Why don't you just ask your man what he likes? What if he doesn't want his perineum probed?? What if he doesn't want his testes tugged??

I found that book left on the Bible table yesterday. Makes sense. If you follow the book's instructions, you'll make your man see Jesus.

I've mentioned before that my company is all about freedom of speech. When it comes to books, we sell anything and everyhing.

The assistant manager and I were cleaning up near the end of the night (the same night we found the 'porn'). We were talking and this woman strides up to us.

"Hi. So I can't BELIEVE that you don't sell books by Hitler. This is ridiculous. I thought a company like this would sell 'Mein Kampf' for sure! I'm very disappointed in your company."

I'm sure the both of us looked like deer in the headlights. "Actually ma'am, we do sell 'Mein Kampf'. I'll show you where it is," I said.

Hitler Girl follwed along behind me. Thank God she kept her distance, unlike Calendar Guy.

"Well, I don't see it anywhere. It's not in your biography section. Where else would it be?"

She just kept talking and saying how disappointed she was. A lot of people buy 'Mein Kampf' and I went straight to the shelf it was on in the European History section.

I put it her hand, and she acted surprised like she had thought I was lying about having it in the store. She was delighted. Then she was quickly disappointed because we didn't have Hitler's second book.

I offered to try and order it. "What's it called?"

She looked at me like I had just asked her what year it was. "It's called 'Hitler's Second Book'."

Then she went into a lecture about how Hitler was so smart and was quoting 'Mein Kampf'. Now, I don't deny that Hitler was charismatic. Most fascist rulers are, don't ya know? How else would you get people to follow you and kill 6 million people for you? But I generally hate murderous leaders who use their charisma for pure evil and I don't go around quoting them in public places.

The assistant manager that was there with me had grown a mustache for the month of November, it's a fundraising thing that they do here to raise money for sick kids. We had been joking all month that he should shave it into a Hitler-stache. Of course he didn't do that, but he dyed it black for fun. After the woman left, he mentioned that and we laughed. Can you imagine? She would have thrown herself down on the ground in front of him in a 'we're not worthy-esque' sort of way.

This week's Wiener of the Week Winner is....drum roll please!

The Marine that was standing in the Current Affairs section with his buddy, talking very loudly about shaving his balls.


There was a family looking at books just behind Customer Service that looked up at this, over in the Marine's general direction. Then the family looked at me like, 'Aren't you going to do something about this?'

I actually had to go over and tell the Marine that if he was going to talk about his balls, he had to be quieter about it. Well, I didn't use those words, but you know.

Funniest Secondhand Bookseller Experience of the Week?

My co-worker S had a good one. I'm not quoting exactly, because I wasn't there. But she deserves a guest spot in my blog (S is a weirdo-magnet), and this is how it happens in my mind.

S: Hi there! Is there anything I can help you with?

Customer: Yes. I'm from New Jersey. I'm looking for a book on baby care, but you probably don't have those down here.
[ie: The South]

S: Actually we do...[S, who is from the South, finds the book Jersey Girl is looking for]

Jersey Girl: There's no box with this. Doesn't it come with a box?

S: No ma'am, I'm sorry, it doesn't come with a box.

Jersey Girl: Oh. I don't want it then.

Apparently in New Jersey, all the baby books come with boxes and they think Southerners learn all their baby care tips from the local Mountain Witch Woman. Maybe everything comes with a box in New Jersey. Like the dead bodies that the Mafia dump into the Hudson River. How do you like that false stereotype, Jersey Girl?

Christmas is next week. We're getting down to crunch time. I'm thinking of writing another Christmas song...."It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest".

(I'm oh so talented with 'Paint')

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bookstore Chronicles: Countdown to Xmas #2

When customers come up to Customer Service and ask for help, the conversations usually go like this.

Me: "Hi there! *smiling* Can I help you?"

Customer: Hi! I'm looking for a book.

Me: "Aren't we all! *wink* What are you looking for?"

Customer: "Well, I don't know the title."

Me: "Ok. Who's the author?"

Customer: "Um...I don't know the author either."

Me: "Okayyyy....what can you tell me about the book?"

Customer: "Well, it's about [some broad random subject] and I KNOW that it's pink."

Me: "It's pink?"

Customer: "Yep. It's pink. For sure."

Me: "Um, I'd love to find that book for you, but I really need some more information on it to search for it. What else can you tell me about it?"

Customer: "Nothing. That's all I know."

Me: "Well, I don't know of any book like that off the top of my head..."

Customer: [looking at me like they can't believe I don't know what book they're talking about and like I have three heads as well] "Oh. Well, like I said. It's pink. There aren't that many pink books are there?"

Me: "I can't search by colour..."

Customer: "Oh! I just thought of something else about it!"

Me: "Great! What is it??"

Customer: "It's fuzzy."

Me: *crying and laughing on the inside* "Nameless, authorless, pink, fuzzy book, eh?"

That exact situation happens several times a day. Several.

Yesterday I was called up to the front to help an older lady find a book. When I got up there, I saw that it was a customer that was famous for being a little difficult. Great.

"Can I help you," I asked.

"This lady is looking for a book on logging," said L, the cashier that called me.

"Logging?" I asked?

The old lady nodded.

"Ok....well, I know off the top of my head that we're not going to have anything like that in the store. Our nature section is pretty small."

She looked at me like I was a COMPLETE asshole.

"Really?" she said.

"Yep. We don't really have anything like that, because it's not something that sells in this market. Maybe I can look it up and see if I can order you something? There's still time before Christmas to do that," I said.

She just kept looking at me. She had this little smirk on her face like she thought I was being stupid and difficult and was lying all at the same time.

"Really? I would have thought that would be popular. The man I'm buying for loves that show on the History channel about the loggers."

"Well," I said, "I see in my lookup system that there's a couple of textbooks about logging. And that's about it. I'm so sorry, it just doesn't seem to be a popular subject."

More disbelieving blinks in my direction. "Ok, what about fiction? I'd be happy for a fictional story about logging. He's very hard to buy for. You must have something."


"Ma'am, we really don't even have anything that I could order besides these two textbooks. I'm sorry."

And she just walked away in disgust. Before I finished my sentence.


Let me let you in on something. I'd rather someone yell and let me have it than someone just turning on their heel and walking away. That is the epitome of rudeness to me. Turning on your heel and walking away is a big, fat,

I actually did get reamed out by another customer this week. One of our music sellers allegedly told him that the CD he ordered would be there by that day. And of course it wasn't.

I always suspect that there's a big problem when a cashier calls me and says, "Can you come to the registers, please?" without further explanation.

This particular problem was completely our fault. It was probably one of our seasonal newbies. We never, ever guarantee that an item will be in on 'x' day. It's always a range. What if something happens to the UPS truck? Stuff like that is something we can't control.

So I apologized profusely. I apologized for the person who told him that. I apologized, apologized, apologized. And I topped the apologies with apology sprinkles.

Not good enough. "But I want to buy it NOW. They said it would be here today. I'm here to purchase it. Now."

I really felt bad that our mistake made him come all the way down for nothing. But after a plethora of apologies, I didn't know what else to do. Pull it out of my ass?

He just kept standing there and staring at me. Nothing would appease him except buying his CD.

Oh well, that's what I signed up for when I took this temporary floor manager job. At least he yelled at me, and let me apologize one more time before finally turning and walking away.

There haven't been any horrific bathroom incidents. Apparently, 'horrific' has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I reluctantly responded to a call for 'attention to the Ladies' Room' and it was no more than a toilet that someone hadn't bothered to flush because they're lazy, and I was RELIEVED. Is that wrong, or what??

I look like a crazy person walking into the bathroom...tentatively opening up each of the stall doors to peer inside...then finding the offending toilet, flushing it, and walking out smiling and giving everyone the thumbs up because the mess was all in the toilet instead of all over the outside of it. AND it was a flushable mess, no plunger necessary!

It's the little things in life that matter...

Time sure passes quickly when you're running back and forth doing returns, giving change, helping out at the registers, cleaning up coffee spills, and on bathroom duty (haha, bathroom doody). You pray for January, and then when it finally comes, you're bored out of your head because you were so used to the rush and madness.

Week 2 is complete.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bookstore Chronicles: Countdown to Xmas #1

Nothing better than waking yourself up at 7am by sneezing about 10 times in a row.

Oh wait, I thought of something better!

After sneezing, you try to get back to sleep but you can't because just as you finally get comfortable, a dribble of liquid snot tries to keep sneaking its way out of one of your nostrils. And you can't sniff it back up because said nostril is plugged so badly that you can't sniff. So you need to get up to blow your nose so that the dribble doesn't eventually make its way into your ear while you're asleep. But you can't blow your nose, because it's so stuffed that the dribble that was trying to make it's ninja-like escape suddenly wants to stay in bed and read a book!

One of the great questions in life...how can noses be stuffed and runny at the same time?? You'd think it'd be either so stuffed that liquids just stay where they are, or so runny that your nose just magically gets clear in 20 seconds??

Whilst you're pondering that one, I thought I'd share a couple of small anecdotes from the past week at work. Nothing as 'press-stopping' as the time that guy with the fake British accent shit all over the bathroom, but sort of entertaining nonetheless and they're evidence that the holiday season is winding up.

To begin the week, I was in the break room eating my lunch and talking to Chuck on the phone. The break room is our work haven. We can vent, nap, eat, laugh, and be ourselves. It is generally the noisiest, most raucous place in the store (aside from the train table in the kids department, but I believe Dante gave that place its own special level of hell).

I was mid-chat with Chuckles when a co-worker of mine (let's call him R) burst into the room and sat down dramatically.

The picture speaks for itself.

Actually, the picture doesn't speak for itself, does it?

So I asked, 'Did someone shit all over the bathroom again?'

He just stayed in that position you see above, and shook his head. I had to get off the phone and get the story. R is quite boisterous, and I needed full concentration.

'What the hell happened?'

He just kept shaking his head, and then he started laughing. Apparently someone had alerted him about the fact that someone had brought a copy of the Kama Sutra in the bathroom, and had left it on the floor. R saw it, and went to get a pair of gloves from the janitor's closet just in case the book had been, um, let's say 'defiled'.

By the time he had gone back into the bathroom with the gloves on to retrieve it, someone else was already in the stall and apparently had picked up the book.

'So you're just going to wait with your gloves on?' I asked.

'Hey,' he said. 'I'm being nice. I'm letting him finish.'

If that's some crazy part of the "Bro Code", then I'm glad I'm a not a bro.

Public masturbation is something I don't understand. Public sex, fine. You're doing it for the thrill, hoping some 4-year old kid and his dad walk in on you. 'Cause that's what's gonna happen if you're in my store. Kind of pathetic, but at least you have someone to share in the thrill.

Jerking off by yourself in a bookstore bathroom? Take it, Ace.

The next 'WTF?' moment of the week came that very afternoon. During the Christmas holidays, we have different organizations come in to gift wrap for donations. Every hour or so, my co-worker M has to announce who is doing the gift-wrapping for the day.

I was working in the music department that day, with a co-worker whom I'll call A. A was busy helping some older ladies check out, and M was doing the hourly announcement. I was over helping some other people. I kind of heard a little commotion going on where A was standing, but I couldn't pay attention till I was done helping my customers.

When I was free, A asked me to come over and cancel the transaction. The women she was helping were walking away. A looked a little upset.

Of course I asked what the matter was, and she said that the women didn't want to buy anything at our store because we didn't exude Christian values.

I was confused. 'But they obviously were going to buy something, or I wouldn't have had to cancel the transaction. What made them change their minds?'

The women were listening to the announcement about the gift wrapping, and were highly offended at the end when M cheerily said 'Happy Holidays!' They asked A why we didn't 'support Christmas' and apparently they didn't like A's explanation so they said they didn't want to buy anything from us.

Ok. So the last time I checked, the sign out front didn't include the words 'Christian Booksellers'. We are a first amendment company. We include everyone and everything in what we sell and how we cater to the public.

We sell 'Mein Kampf'. We sell 'The Penis Pokey Book' (which, judging by some of the pictures on the internet, people actually do use according to the directions). We sell Penthouse. We sell various military ops books that most people are very surprised we're allowed to sell. We sell all of these things alongside bibles and christian inspirational books. Freedom of speech and written material. What are we supposed to do, hang a big neon cross above Customer Service? Of course we support Christmas, it keeps us in our jobs. We also support any other holiday that makes us money. Because that's why we exist! To sell you stuff.

And (drumroll please) it's time for the Weiner of the Week!

This week's Weiner, er, Winner is the male customer that came in wearing skintight white jeans, a skintight white and fluorescent pink shirt, and a fluorescent pink cap (the bill of the cap turned to the side of course).

The only time this sort of attire is acceptable is on Halloween or during a Gay Pride parade. Halloween's over, and this dude wasn't even gay! He was holding his girlfriend's hand and he was struttin' like he owned the place.

Have you ever seen that website hotchickswithdouchebags.com? He was like one of those guys. Completely the wrong body type for skintight white jeans. And as all the ladies know, white jeans can be kind of transparent so you have to watch what kind of underwear you wear with them. This guy solved that problem by not wearing any. His junk was all over the place. It was appalling. But highly amusing, because he obviously thought he was stylin'. I wish I had a trophy to give gim.

My final story did not occur at my store, but while I was shopping at the grocery store on the way home from work that day.

I was standing in line at the checkout, buying some stuff for dinner and some beer. The cashier girl (who looked no more than 19) asked me for ID. I get ID'd a lot, so I had it out and ready to go.

"Thank you so much for having your ID ready," she said. "I think everyone under the age of 30 should have it ready when buying alcohol."

"Well, I'm 7 months away from being 30, so I guess I should take it as a compliment," I replied.

She looked at me like I was crazy. "You're that old?? [keep in mind that she just supposedly checked my birthday on my ID] I would have put you at no more than 23!"

I smiled and thanked her even though I thought she was an idiot, and the guy behind me spoke up. He was a young, good-looking African-American dude.

He smiled and said, "I just rounded 30 myself."

The cashier then looks at him incredulously. She said, "Now, don't take this as stereotypical..."

Uh oh. It's never good when someone starts a sentence that way. I held my breath.

"...but you colored people never seem to show age."

Ho.Lee. Shit.

I looked at the dude with my eyebrows raised, and he looked at me and you could see in his face that he thought she was just as much of an idiot as I did.

So anyway, that was just week one of the holiday season. Hell, it was DAY one! Three more weeks to go. And I'm including the week after Christmas, because you just know with people coming in to return things there will be shenanigans.

I'll leave you with a clip of 'Are You Being Served?'. One of my favourite shows of all time. Situations on there aren't as crazy as they might seem ;)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wicked Sick

Work is really picking up. The day after Thanksgiving here in the States ('Black Friday', which was yesterday) is the biggest shopping day of the year. People line up all night long outside of stores to be the first ones in and get special deals. Fights break out. People get stabbed. From now till Christmas, my store should be hoppin'. Hopefully it'll be sans frenzied shopper stabbings. I suppose books don't fan the flames of bloodlust like marked down electronics do.

I'm not going to say I'm not a materialistic person. Most of us are. George Carlin had a great bit about it. Saw him perform in person a few years ago, brilliant.

But DUDE. I can't believe that people will CAMP OUT all night just to buy a TV. One of my friends just goes out to be around the crazy people buying stuff at 3am, he doesn't even buy anything. It's a tradition. I was at work till 10:30 last night, and one of my co-worker friends said that she'd been up for 24 hours.


You know what my ass is doing at 3am the day after Thanksgiving?

If I don't have to work, my Canadian ass is HIBERNATING. I am in a solid turkey/pumpkin pie/ mashed potato coma. This was the first year I've worked at the bookstore that I wasn't scheduled to work at 4am on Black Friday. I took advantage of every bit of sleep I could get because I knew work that afternoon would be crazy.

It just amazes me what people will do for a good deal on merchandise. In Canada, the day after Christmas (which is 'Boxing Day' to my American friends) is our big shopping day of the year. And it's turned into a week now. They call it 'Boxing Week' sales. I used to joke that it was going to turn into 'Boxing Fortnight' sales. I went out on Boxing Day once, and it totally wasn't worth it. As one of my favourite eloquent sayings goes...fuck THAT shit.

And, just because nature is cruel, I am also getting sick. I don't get sick very often even though I work with the public. My immune system is pretty good. Touching dirty, disgusting money all day long will do that to ya.

Ladies? If you're gonna keep money in your 'bra bank' as you so classily put it, will you please take it out of there before you come up to me to check out? If I'm going to be handling money that's been in your sweaty cleavage, I don't want to know about it first. Thanks.

When I do get sick, it's a bastard. Usually I'm the one that will bring it home and spread it to Chuckles. I'm just around so many people every day. This year it's been the other way around. The One-Lunged-Wonder been sick for almost two weeks. Major chest cold/flu/whatever.

He sounded like the singer from Crash Test Dummies O_O

Took me so long to get it, I thought I might escape. Maybe I had gotten this particular virus before! Then I woke up yesterday and I could feel my throat tightening up. This morning I sound like the Crash Test Dummies guy. Which is sort of creepy. Tomorrow I expect it to be in full swing. Which is perfect timing. Customers love it when you're hacking all over their grandkids' Christmas presents.

Oh well, it's probably better that I get it now than the week of Christmas.

On the upside of things, weather is still gorgeous. This is the only time of year I'm not homesick for Canada. Sunny, warm. I put up my outdoor Christmas lights the other day. I did it in a t-shirt. Well, not only in a t-shirt. That would have caused a neighbourhood scandal. But you know what I mean. And it was AWESOME.

So anyway, I don't know how much blogging I'll get done in the next few weeks. It'll probably be several little crazy customer vignettes, which I know you always look forward to.

Merry Christmas!!

Oh wait. It's still November.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


I love giving presents.

You know what I love more than giving presents? Giving someone a present that I get to enjoy just as much as they do.

Um, not that kind of present.

I just got him concert tickets to Robert Plant & The Band of Joy as a Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday present. They play here in February a couple of days before his birthday.

As most of you know, we're both huge Led Zeppelin fans. I've seen Robert play twice, and Chuck's also seen him twice. Each time he plays, he's with a different group of musicians, and the collaborations always seem to really work.

A lot of Zep fans lament the fact that he's the one that puts the kibosh on a reunion tour. I don't. While it would be cool and everything, I understand why he doesn't want to do it. Can you imagine playing the same songs with the same group of people night after night for 40 years? I'd get tired as hell.

And the collaborations Robert participates in have been genius so far.

Chuck and I saw him perform with Allison Krauss in 2008. We had to travel out to Charlotte to get some of my immigration obligations taken care of, and on the way back we popped into Asheville to see the concert. We had 2nd row tickets at the Asheville Civic Center. One of the best shows I've ever attended. Those two are awesome together. T-Bone Burnett was playing with them, he's had his hand in producing many award winning albums in the last couple of years. Buddy Miller was on guitar as well. That dude rocks. Here's a pic from the show.

Anyway, I had the pleasure of listening to Robert Plant & The Band of Joy's new album on our in-store play list at work. it's great. 'Band of Joy' as a name goes back to Robert's early days before Zep. He and John Bonham were in a band with the same name. Robert liked it I guess, and is using it for this latest collaboration of musicians. Buddy Miller is playing with him again this time around. Which is all kinds of AWESOME.

This is my favourite off the new album. It's a cover of Los Lobos' 'Angel Dance'.

Anyway, I'm very excited. Best present I could have bought us, I mean him :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I'm not a really girly girl.

I don't get my nails manicured. I don't collect designer handbags. No closet full of fancy shoes.

Most of my friends are dudes. I love sports and beer. Ya'll know what a ham I am, I don't care if I look silly.

I've got a mouth so dirty that even the Orbit girl runs the other way.

Get the picture?

But nothing floats my boat more than getting my hair done. Girly girly girly. I don't get to go as often as I like. But I did get to go this morning, and I feel FANTASTIC.

I've been colouring my hair since I was 12. It's been every natural colour out there. Black was the worst mistake I made, when I was 14. Washed my skin out so badly I looked like a fat vampire trout.

Blonde hair looked awesome on me, but waaay too much maintenence. And it wasn't really me.

Red on the other hand...I should have been born with it. Nothing makes me feel more like me than flaming red hair. As my hair soaks up the dye, I also soak up confidence. Makes me stick out in a crowd in a good way.

People always think it's natural. They don't know that the carpet doesn't match the curtains, and I'm good with that.

I'm very vain about my hair. I think one of the reasons I've been kinda down and awkward the last couple of weeks is because it was 4 months since I had it last coloured. More roots than a truck full of carrots. I looked like a hobo.

But I'm back baby!

*does a little dance*

I feel like a Femme Fatale. A sexpot. A minx.

Chuckles better watch out when he walks through the door...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Take Me Bak 'Ome

Have any of you ever felt like you just couldn't cram any more information in your heads?

Not one more fact. Not one more thing to remember to do. Not one more appointment.

I envy people who have their lives mapped out for months in advance in a day planner. Or in their Blackberries or whatever. I'm so old school. Who even uses a pen and paper anymore?

I've never been able to keep a planner. I've always had a spot-on memory. For school or work...I'll make a good go of using a planner for about 2 weeks, and then it just sits in the bottom of my bag collecting dust. Or whatever else that's disgusting and lurking at the bottom of my bag.

I use two methods of reminder.


As you can tell, I'm right handed. I love to write all over my left one. Chuck hates it. He keeps saying I'm going to get ink poisoning.

When my dad was alive, he lived by Post-It-Notes. The whole back side of his front door was covered in them with reminders. You can see I've carried on the tradition.


But my hand is like a travelling Post-It-Note! Genius! Some days it's covered in so much ink that it looks like a strange tattoo. My hand is unusually devoid of pen marks this morning.

These days though, it seems as though it's not enough.

Chuck and I have little pet peeves about each other's habits, as all couples do. His most irritating habit? He'll come in from work, wash his hands of drywall mud and dust, dry them on the current clean tea towel, and then leave the tea towel crumpled up on the counter or the back of a kitchen chair. Drives me batshit. Even though I'm the messiest person in the world! Go figure!

I do many, many things that drive him nuts. One of them is not turning the shower faucet off correctly. Our faucet is effed up and drips all day long if you don't turn the single knob a certain way before shutting it off.

Drip drip drip drip drip

I forget this every time I take a shower, the latest being this morning. Chuck can remind me about it every time, and I still don't remember. He doesn't understand why. I don't either.

It can be little things like that, or it can be bigger, more irritating things. Last night I closed at work. Got home at 11. Schedule said I had to be back at work for 7am.

I drove there this morning, wishing I could have had an extra hour of sleep. I pull into the parking lot behind what looks like the assistant manager's truck. I was like, wtf? He must have switched shifts with someone, because he wasn't on the schedule I had printed.

Yeah, he switched with someone all right. Me! I completely forgot that I said I would close tonight for him if he could open this morning. Drove all the way into Jacksonville for nothing. I'm such a bonehead.

My head is just too full of stuff. So much is going on at work right now. Holiday set-up is just about complete. Holiday Charity Book Drive is in full swing. Customers are starting their Christmas shopping early.

The District Manager is coming to visit the store next Wednesday, and I'm solely responsible for walking through all the displays with him, and providing rationale for the choices made. I'm not really that anxious about it. He seems to really like my work and my personality. But there are so many things to still think about and get done before then.

And it seems like the closer it gets to Christmas, the more the negativity jumps out at me from everywhere. It's really draining.

I'm the first to admit that I'm not happy happy all the time. I don't eat, sleep and shit rainbows.

But as a person who has a...let's say 'big' personality, I understand that I have the power to use it for good or evil. An individual with a big personality has the ability to influence the mood of an entire room of people.

When I'm feeling negative, I choose to crack jokes and put on voices and do silly walks and such until everyone around me is laughing. Not only does it make me feel better, but everyone else as well. Who can be miserable when I'm doing my awesome Sean Connery impression??

On the occasions when life is just too much and I can't contain my negativity behind a silly face (and it happens), it's almost as if I've lined everyone up and slapped them hard in the face with a brush filled with gray paint. No one is comfortable around a big-personalitied miserable person. And not only do I strongly affect people's moods, I also am strongly affected by people's moods.

There are a few people I know with big personalities, not trying to be egocentric here in only talking about myself. Lately a couple of them have been letting the stress in their lives get to them. In letting it get to them, it bleeds all over everyone else. A cloud of anger, nerves, worry and cynicism descends. I'm not going to get all hippie dippy about it, but it's just bad vibes, Man. Makes me feel absolutely horrible and depressed.

(Oh, and by the way, in case you think I'm talking about you, my dear Reader, I'm not. But this is a public blog, so you never know just who is going to find it.)

So lately I find myself trying to relieve stress dumped on me by other people. Cribbage and chardonnay on the porch. Writing in this blog. Listening to an assload of music.

I am currently chair-dancing to Slade.

I love a man in plaid pants and platform shoes. Or maybe it's the muttonchops that get me.

What do you guys do to relieve stress and channel anger?

Booze? Sex? Dancing? Slapping children? What?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

This Bud's For You

It's a week after Halloween, and this is still sitting on my front step.

I'm such a procrastinator. One year when I lived in Edmonton, I actually left the Christmas tree up until March because I couldn't be arsed to take it down.

I've been procrastinating when it comes to garden tasks. Things that should be cut back, deadheaded, or whatever. I know you're all shocked and surprised.

A frost threatens, and I peer out through the window at my potted plants. I don't feel like hauling them all into the garage. I'll just buy new ones next year, I think.

I've been surrounding myself with pansies, because they last through the winter here with little care. I rescued these ones from the Clearance rack yesterday.

The one thing I am pretty pleased about it is my 'Governor Mouton' camellia. This is the third winter it'll have been in the ground, and both of the previous winters it has only had 3 blooms on it.


I've seen the camellia 'twigs' that they sell at Lowe's with more blooms than that on them.

I almost didn't even bother looking at it yesterday. I didn't want to be disappointed again.

But it looks as though it's full of buds! Even though I could only get 3 big ones in a single picture.

Hey, does anyone else on here have a camellia with Yellow Mottle Virus?

I've read that this won't really affect the tree much except in terms of aesthetics, but I was just wondering. I thought maybe this had something to do with lack of blooms. I really wish I would have known to look for YMV when I was buying this thing. Same thing with rose black spot. I learned about that one AFTER I planted my hybrid tea. And that one's been a thorn in my side (heh) ever since.

Speaking of thorns in my side...

The fire ants have built a luxury hotel under my magnolia. They're putting in a pool as we speak. If you're walking through the yard and listen reeeeeally closely, you can hear the sound of hundreds of tiny slot machines...

Fire ants. Yellow Mottle Virus. Deadheading.

Balls!! I say balls to all of it!!

Cribbage and chardonnay on the rear verandah. Much more civilized. Best way to procrastinate, hands down.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Not Sheetrocket Science

Chuck is a drywall guy. Or Sheetrock guy, if you prefer. Potato, po-tahto.

He's been a drywall guy since he got out of the Marine Corps in 1983. He's mostly a drywall hanger (well, that's what he most loves to do anyway), but he's also a drywall finisher.

If you would have asked me before I met him if I thought drywall was interesting, I would have said no. After I yawned 3 or 4 times first.

But I've learned a lot! I can walk into a house that just framed up and wired, and tell what room is what (and if the job is going to be a bitch). I can walk into a room that someone has just hung drywall in, and tell if it was well hung (hehe) or if it was a shitty job.

That term 'swear like a sailor?' Hah! Should have been 'swear like a sheetrocker'. They have some fun terms for things:

You want to get the job done fast with lower quality work? You 'rape it and run'.

You get a bunch of drywall hangers together to get a huge job done faster? You're 'gangbanging it'.

The coolest skill Chuck has acquired through 30 years of experience with drywall work?


Chuck uses stilts for drywall finishing. The ones in that picture raise up to about 42in (or almost 4 ft).

He not only walks around in these things. He climbs stairs in them. He holds a pan of drywall mud in one of his hands, and a spreading knife in the other and isn't even looking at the ground as he's walking in these things, scraping mud on a ceiling.

Like I said, before I met him, I didn't know shit about drywalling. But when I saw him do this for the first time?

Bad. Ass.

You don't even know how badass until you see it done.

I find stiltwalking sexy as hell. Thank goodness I have other options than circus performers!

Anyway, the other night we had our friends Sean and Andie over for beer and chicken wings. Chuck's chicken wings are more world famous than Hooters'! (Well, that's what I tell him anyway, to butter him up.)

After dinner, whilst we were sitting at the table in a chicken wing coma, Chuck walks through the door that leads from the garage to the kitchen wearing his drywall stilts.

Of course Sean and Andie had to try them out. That's why we're friends with these people.

Andie went first.

Andie is the only woman besides me that is allowed to be in this position with Chuck. She's lucky and she knows it. ;)

I think Sean got a little jealous (not really) because he had to come over and help "strap 'er in".

This is probably my favourite pic of the night. Andie with a Fonzie-style thumbs-up, Sean with a "sneaky Shocker", and a great smile on Chuckles' face.

There were (still are) handprints all over my ceiling. And a little nail polish.

Sean's turn next. As you will see, I didn't need a turn. Not only was I the camera operator, but I've been on Chuck's stilts before. No need to go again. Trust me.

This one's just funny. Sean looks like he's exorcising demons out of Chuck.

Then he got cocky. The bastard. He was a natural.

The stilts weren't at their full height. Chuck shamed him into raising them up to the 42 inches. Sean's short, but not that short. We had to go outside for this. Click on the pic, and note the completely unsure look on Sean's face (he almost ripped the gutter off).

Sean and Andie aren't married. They're just shacking up. I think they're perfect for each other, and Sean should totally have proposed from the stilts. Would have made a good story for future grandchildren.

"Yeah, I asked your Grandma to marry me at your Great Uncle Chuck's house. I was on stilts at the time. I'd been drinking. But it wasn't a mistake, thank God. Maybe.'

Had such a fun time that night. Who else has stilts just lying around, waiting to be played with? We're so awesome.

And next time, Chuck will remember to put the beer on top of the ladder before he gets on the stilts.