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.


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Hallelujah, and only two more weeks to go, plus the after holiday sales. I don't know how you do it, but then again, I haven't stepped inside a mall at Christmas in over 10 years. Bonafide grinch here...I LOATHE holiday shopping.

Is the Wiz said...

Hang on in there,girl. You remind me of my librarian days, with people's strange requests.Did make one good friend though, a lovely lady who was looking for a book by the land reformer Patrick Geddes. After finally admitting defeat, she decided to write one herself.

Kyna said...

Clare: I've actually done a ton of my shopping online, for the first time. I'm really really liking it so far. Plus, this is the first year I've started it early so that it's not all last minute. I'm liking that too. :)

Is: The one about logging was weird. Another guy got upset with me because we didn't have more 'paleo-diet' cookbooks. And the funniest was a few weeks ago when someone asked me for a book on kilt-making. I asked if he meant he just wanted a book on different tartans...nope. He wanted to make his own kilt and thought there'd be a whole book on it. lol

Liz said...

Hi Kyna,

Oh my... Honestly, some people!
What do you mean you don't know each and every book ever made??!!
I love the fuzzy pink book though, classic. I would have to guess it was a children's book??

I'm weighing up the pros and cons of attempting a mall on saturday - very early morning, I might add...
I hate going there at the best of times, never mind at Christmas.

Our snow is finally melting so I feel like a freed animal, need to go out and about, just not entirely sure where to!

Søren said...

A month ago I was with my husband in a bookshop in London, just browsing about. I suddenly remembered there was a book that came out September 4th that I actually wanted, so I went looking for it.

Now, my husband wanted me to ask for help, but I refused, because come on... If all you remember is the release date? You might as well ask for a pink fuzzy book! (Oh, except I guess it WOULD be more likely that you could find a book by its release date, though still...)

Laurrie said...

I sure hope you found that book by that guy that wrote about that thing... you know, the one that was published by that company in that place that does those sorts of things. I read it last year when we went to that place with those people you knew. No, not that one!!!! You know the one I mean. I liked it. Especially that part about the interesting stuff.

Al said...

Many years ago I had the pleasure of working in a boot making shop. I lost count of the times people came up to the counter and said 'do you know where I can find a boot maker?'
I usually smiled very nicely and pointed to the signs they had walked past and under to get in the door.

I think it is very cruel to keep a CD in your donkey. Is that some wicked Canadian custom?

Al said...

No wonder the poor fellow has such an odd expression on his face.

Kris said...

I used to work at the library. Yep... patrons where just as (*#(@ as your customers. And you never knew what you were going to find inside when you opened up a returned video, dvd, or (especially) childrens' book. Eeeew. Oh, the stories I could tell...

P.S. I renamed this morning's storm on my site - Kyna Clipper so as to correctly lay all the blame on YOU! :-P

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kyna girl .. I have to tell you about this, and I am sure you will think I am a wiener, but what the heck .. you might get a smirk over it.
I was an art framer at Michael's when they first opened up here in Kingston .. our area was near the toilets .. one evening a floor manager and a department head came rushing over to me after shrieking repeatedly (both of them .. bobble-heads) in said ladies toilet .. began to say "First you need some long rubber gloves ..." and I said "I wasn't hired to clean a toilet .. if so I will have to stop working here exactly NOW" .. so they roped some other poor woman in .. and looked at me as if I should be hung for mutiny .. not long after I did quit because you just can't work with bobble heads very long .. they make you DIZZY with being bombarded by stupidity ?
I have to read way back to what ever bathroom incident happened to you girl !! I could use another honking huge LAUGH ! hehehe
Joy : )

Jim Groble said...

Hit the "go away" button. jim

The Idiot Gardener said...

"Sometimes a Great Notion" Ken Kesey. Book about logging. Job done.

I don't know what you moan about, your job is a veritable piece of piss.

Also, I would have just said, "Yes sir, your CD did come, but I figured you were better than that tasteless shit, so I threw it away. Don't thank me, and guess what. I'm not even going to make you pay for it. Now, fuck off home and don't come out in public until you have acquired a slight modicum of taste."

Piece of piss.

I could do your job standing on my head.

Anonymous said...

Oh Kyna, you and I could really swap stories. You see, I work at Kohl's! The other day I was working the jewelry counter when a man called in to see if we had any jewelry on sale. Oh how I longed to say "You do know this is Kohl's, right? Where everything is always on sale?" That same day, a man asked me if I we had any bracelets. "No, just hundreds of them" Retail!

Kyna said...

Liz: Very early morning is the best time to go if you have to go any time :P I had to go to the hell that is Wal-Mart yesterday, and I went right after my morning meeting and it wasn't too bad yet. I even found a parking spot right away! And I always feel that need to get out and about (oot and aboot) in the wintertime. It was way worse in Canada when we were covered in snow for 7 months.

Soren: Well, you did what I would have done, which is nothing :D I don't like to ask about something unless I have a pretty good idea what I'm looking for. At least you had the release date though. It's better than the 'pink fuzzy book' scenario. ;)

Laurrie: Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!


Al: Haha!! :D People will be standing at the counter trying to write out a check ('cheque' for you Canadians) and they'll look up (they ALWAYS look up) and around and say, "Where am I?"

One time, one of my work buddies answered this query with, "Petsmart". Classic.

Kris: Ooh!! ooh!! Tell me some! :D

Joy: You're such a wiener :P lol Unfortunately we do have to clean up messes if they're in the middle of the day and they're bad enough lol. The cleaning people are only in in the morning, and it wouldn't fly if a customer came up to complain and you told them that it would have to wait till tomorrow :P

Jim: Haha, if only I had one of those...

IG: If you said that kind of stuff to customers, you'd not be standing on your head, you'd be skidding out the door on your ass. And I don't mean the donkey.

When I come home and tell Chuck a story, he always says the same thing. "Just tell them to fuck off. That's what I'd do." There's no way he could ever do my job...

But thanks for the logging suggestion. Next time someone asks for a logging book, I'll have one. But that'll probably happen, oh, never.

Robin:Haha!! And I bet that there were bracelets right in front of his face. :P That same thing happens in our music and DVD department. I was helping out on the registers there the other day when a man walked up and asked if we sold DVDs. He was surrounded by them! I don't get it.