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!!