Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On the conversations that take place between the actual talking in a bookshop

“Excuse me, do you work here?”

“(No, this is what I do for fun – put prize tags on books and carry them by the load to their designated place. And I also just happened to wear an apron with the store’s name on it. For fun, I tell you.) Yes, what can I help you with?”

“Are you busy?”

“(What me? Noooo… If you’re referring to the stack of books I am barely able to lift and now – since you are speaking to me – still am carrying, that’s just something I do. I’m trying to get a hernia.) Not at all. What can I do for you?”

“Do you have books?”

“(You are kidding me right? You enter a bookstore to ask whether we have books? Look around! They are everywhere. It’s those things with pages in them, and words on those pages. Made of ink. And paper. Books. You should try one sometime.) Yes, are you looking for anything in particular?”

“How much is this?”

“Just a second, I’ll go check (because I don’t know every prize for every item in the entire store, in case you thought so. Oh, wait, this one has a price tag). Looks like it’s 35 kroner.”

Really? That’s very expensive for a pack of stickers!”

“(Well, I am sorry that you don’t pay attention to the market prices, but hey…) It’s got 416 pieces in it. So it’s not actually that expensive per sticker.”

“I realize it’s not your fault, but it is expensive.”

“(Okay, let’s spend time to argue about price levels, shall we. How much did you pay for that Chanel bag?) …” Offers apologetic (yet fake) smile.

“I won’t buy it (unless you offer me a better price).”

“(I don’t care, it’s not like we’ll go bankrupt because you refuse to spend 0,084 kroner per sticker. Besides, it’s not in my power to change the prices in the store. So the only one losing here is you, who will go home without stickers.) Okay.”

“Is there any other store in the mall where you can buy stickers?”

“(Even if I did know, by now you are annoying me so much that I don’t really want to help you anymore.) Sorry, I don’t think so.”

“I’m looking for a book…”

“(No way. Then what are you doing in the bookstore?!? [/sarcasm]) Sure. Do you know the title?”


“Okay, do you know the author?”


“I see. Is it a specific book you’re looking for, or…?”

“Yes. I think it’s green.”

“Green? Do you know if it’s a new book? Is it written by a man or a woman? What genre is it? It is Norwegian, or maybe a translation?”

“It’s about a man who goes to Eastern Europe. Or Asia. Or something.”

“Let me go consult a colleague (and wildly trash you behind your back).”

“Hello, have you read this book?”

“No, sorry, I can’t say that I have. But I’ve heard good things about it.”

“Is it good?”

“(Let me repeat:) I haven’t read it myself, but the reviews have been great.”

“I read another book of this author, and I didn’t like it.”

“(And you are considering buying this one because you like to torture yourself..?) I see. Well, perhaps you should instead try…”

“But a friend told me this was much better.”

“(Then why are you still talking to me…?) Really?”

“I’m gonna buy this one.”

“Let’s hope you’ll like this one better! (And that you won’t bother me next time, since you clearly had made up your mind already…)”

“Would you like me to gift-wrap it (even though you haven’t as much as smiled at me since you entered the store…)?”


“(Yes, please. Now you’ll get the ugly paper.)” Polite (yet fake) smile.

”Would you like a bag (or do you think you could possibly fit your book in one of the gazillion plastic, environmentally destructive bags you’re already carrying)?”

“Yes, if you’ve got a small one.”

“(But your friggin’ encyclopedia won’t fit in a small bag...) Of course.” Puts encyclopedia in appropriately sized bag.

“That will be a total of 248 kroner.”

“I’ll pay with my credit card.”

“(I kind of figured that out, since you had it ready and all. But thanks for letting me know!) Sure.”

“Nothing happens.”

“(Well, no, it’s been a nanosecond. It’s shopping, not sci-fi.) Just wait a moment, it takes a while for it to connect.”

“Still nothing.”

“(I know. I can see it as well as you can. Give it just another second, though…) You don’t have to take your card back out. (It won’t speed up the process. Leave it in. Leave it!) … You can put your card back in, the same way you did first… (PUT IT BACK IN!!! Yes, with your chip facing away – just like it says on the machine in HUGE letters…)”

“These machines are different from one store to the next?”

“Really? (I’ve never heard anyone say that before…)”

“Oh, now it works.”



Tundiel said...

*lights candle* I can remember pretty much all of those from my Spar days. Well, obviously they weren't book-related, because we didn't actually sell books, but you know what I mean.

Don't you just love customers? I ALWAYS thought to myself, "I'm never like this!! Why are people like this??" It used to confuse the hell out of me. The only nice customers are generally those that work in retail themselves (and sweet old ladies, though to be fair they also can be very annoying when they want to be. I think they do it on purpose, just to get a little entertainment. I can see them cackling to themselves when they get home. Really. I can).

Chary Johnson said...


You crack me up! This was hilarious. I was a sales associate many eons ago also, but in a clothing store. Insert "shirt, pants, etc." instead of "book." I can totally empathize.

Loved this post.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Oh too funny! I'm tweeting this. The public is so ridiculous, sometimes...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Mason Canyon said...

I've seen people park in front of a large white ice box, walk in the store and ask "Do ya'll sell ice?" or most of the time it's "Ya'll don't sell ice do you?" and they are serious. When they're told yes, they want to know where it's at.

Watery Tart said...

Oh, this is GREAT, Mari! I love it! It reminds me of my pub days. "Is the food good?" (No, we make a point of selling bad food. *rolls eyes*)

M.J. Nicholls said...

Mwah-ha-ha! Hilarioso! Shop people ARE evil. ALL of them.

As a customer, I'm frightened when I enter shops. What do I do? Can I buy that? Do I want to buy that? Do you think I should get that? Why does my credit card always end up the wrong way around? Help! Help!

It's terrifying for us social freaks (just so you know).

Rayna M. Iyer said...

You really crack me up, mari. Since I am on a blog sabbatical (yes, something had to crack), I came via Tami's FB link, and it was just what I needed.

Thanks again.

Cruella Collett said...

Tara - yes, the general consensus in our store is that it would be right nice working there if it hadn't been for those "&%(%Q"(#&Q customers...

Chary - I think everybody ought to have at least a couple of years in retail, just to learn how it feels from our side of the cashier...

Elizabeth - thanks for the tweet! :)

Mason - nice of you to stop by! (Nice of the rest of you as well, of course, but it's always extra special to see new "faces" on my blog)
It is my humble opinion that most customers cannot read, esspecially if it's a sign right in front of them, with GREAT, BIG letters on it. Either that or they are blind. (Both of which make their business in a bookstore rather suspicious.)

Tami - there's a reason waiters are tempted to spit in certain customers food, eh? (Too bad it doesn't have quite the same effect to spit in books...)

Mark - yes. Yes we are. We have no pity for social freaks. *evil laughter*

Natasha - blog sabbatical, huh? Sounds like something I ought to do too, but I just don't have the self control... (glad you liked it, though!)

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