Monday, December 7, 2009

On conversations in bookshops (part two)

For any new visitors, let me offer the link to the first part of this post. Actually, this is not so much a second part, as it is a second post on the same subject, because I figured I had more to say. Frankly, I suspect this is a topic that never will be completely exhausted, at last not while I work in a bookshop (which, hopefully, won’t be all that much longer. Must finish thesis and get a “real” job…). Until Sunday, I had a perfectly lovely and surprisingly unstressful weekend. There have been Christmas markets, mulled wine (gløgg), a gingerbread house (or actually, bridge) and this was the weekend I discovered Spotify (expect details on all accounts in later posts). But then Sunday I had to work. Normally, in Norway, most shops aren’t open on Sundays. Normally. But there is nothing normal about Christmas. So we have Sunday-open shops to allow people to shop till they drop just in time for Christmas. Meaning Sunday-working me. And Sunday-moody customers. *sigh*

“Excuse me, do you work here?” [I realize I used this one last time too, but there are different replies, y’see]

“(Yes, and my only desire in this world is to not finish this thing I was doing but instead help you find a book you will not buy anyway) Mhm?” [We’re allowed to be more grumpy as Christmas approaches. The amount of time left to the big ding-dong on Christmas Eve is inversed proportional to the grumpiness of employees in bookstores. Really. It’s science.]


“Er…Me? (My name is NOT “You”. And don’t, don’t touch me! Seriously. I’ll scream! Or recommend a really crappy book!)”

“Can you please help me find a book to a [insert age, gender and occasionally profession]?”

“(Oh, so now you’re polite? Hrmf…) Hrmf… I mean, sure.”

“Can you help me?”


[Customer leaves. Store employee follows.] “Er…?”

“Over here!”

“Er… (Why are you making me follow you around the store? This is not “Follow the leader” – and even if it was – you’re not the leader…)”

“These are both gifts.”

“(…and the appropriate way of asking me to gift wrap it would be a question, with a ‘please’ at the end) Would it be alright if I just send some paper with you, since we have a lot of people waiting in line at the moment?”

“No. I don’t know how to wrap presents.”

“(Grumble-Mumble. That is NOT an excuse. If you just tried…) Well, as you can see, there are a lot of people waiting…”

“I don’t care. You have to wrap these.”

“(I don’t have to do anything, Mister. Nowhere in my contract does it specify that I have to deal with lazy, insensitive morons. But since this argument is taking longer than the actual wrapping…) Christmas paper?”
[Note - this conversation has been cut, as it was much, much, much, much longer in reallity. Some of the comments in parentheses have also been censored since this is a "family blog"...)

And my favourite today (NOT the same guy as above):

“Wait. Do you have any other kinds of paper?”

“(What, it did not occur to you to ask me this before I wrapped it?!?)Well, yes…?”

“Can I see them?”

“(Yes you can, but not in a million years expect that I will change the paper) Sure.”

“I like the one with the teddy bears better.”

“(But you are buying the new Dan Brown…?) Bit advanced children’s literature, don’t you think? (Even if it is Dan Brown…)”

“Just a very childish 29-year-old…”

(I actually ended up changing the paper. Why? Well, 30% because I liked the idea of a childish 29-year-old, 10% because I wasn’t entire done yet, 5% because I wanted to avoid another argument, and 55% because the guy was really cute… Yes, I’m that easily fooled!)


M.J. Nicholls said...

Yikes. That first customer was a turdhead.

I've heard that employees in bookshops "taint" the populist stuff: spraying nasty odours on the pages of Dan Brown, perfuming the lovely stuff and so on. Maybe a myth.

I was once in a bookshop in the Highlands where each book had a "grading" sticker -- i.e. dismal, fabulous, dull etc. It's brilliant. Nobody cares up there!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You know, I think of readers as lovely people, but clearly the people who shop for them aren't!

Working with the public is so painful!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Watery Tart said...

*snickersnort* I fell off my chair when you threatened to recommend a bad book. BUWAHAHAHAHA!

I think customers are probably 70% fabulous, 20% high maintenance and 10% total moron. I spend enough years in restaurants that I know NUMBERS wise, most people are pretty good, but man, those losers will ruin ANY shift. (and they definitely come out during the holidays--people come out then who KNOW they shouldn't be in public, so most of the year they stay home.

Ylva Torilsdotter said...

I have a question for all you people that work in shops: Do we have to talk to you? Or do you prefer beeing ignored (exept for the please and thank you´s we apparantly forget anyway)?
I always feel awkward when talking to staff, but still feel I have to do it.....

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