Although I don’t work in the bookstore industry these days [and couldn’t miss (most of) it more] I do still frequent them to feed my never-ending book addiction. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll find good deals on various websites, but, nothing quite matches that pure book-hunting experience. It’s invigorating. It’s entertaining. It’s … ruined by completely rude and selfish assclaps who feel the need to belittle EVERYONE around them.
I was feeding said book addiction on Veteran’s Day in-between rounds at the movie theatre [Immortals bit the big one but Anonymous was rather well done] with my Mum [an awesome movie/shopping companion, FYI]. Despite their ass-over-tea kettle layout, you can still find some great reads at the Joseph-Beth-turned-Books-A-Million in town … as long as you have a good eye and take the time to do so.
Apparently patience, sanity and courtesy were in short supply on her end the day this woman decided to go shopping [and she seemed damnably determined to kill it on others’].
We were near the obliquely laid-out Customer Service/Cash-Wrap desk trying on various glasses [style versus function, that age-old question] and leaning on our chic black-metal shopping cart [I still have connections; while others get a hand-basket I’m given the Rolls Royce of shopping carts] when a very high-pitched, nasal and angry voice broke through our shopping reverie.
Now, if this had been a question asked in mild perturberance, I’d totally understand. I mean, we’ve all been shopping for something in particular and not found it (much to our annoyance). But this woman with the over-priced SuperCuts-esque ‘do and a voice which makes Fran Fine look demure seemed to take it as a personal attack.
Of course, being a veteran [veteran, victim; poh-tay-toh, poh-tah-toh – it’s all semantics, right?] of the Retail Industry myself [and currently still in the Customer Service Industry] I tend to sympathize towards the retailer this type of vitriol is aimed at.
With this woman’s assault on the auditory senses I angled myself a little less in the mirror and a little more in the ‘I’m not eavesdropping I’m just shopping a little closer to you’ zone.
“I went looking for this Neil Gaiman book. That’s Gaiman, spelled …”
First off, she’s pronouncing his name wrong. Secondly, her grating voice is passing from peeved to condescending. And third? Well, I could already tell I just plain don’t like this woman; from the tips of her overly-gelled caught-in-the-bug-zapper-pixie hair to the toes of her more-expensive-than-my-rent shoes and every square inch in-between. I’m pissed off on behalf of this nice, mousey girl behind the counter [clocking in at 5’2 and ma-aybe 100lbs, I could just pick her up and toss her in my bag] who is bouncing along in the classic ‘I just want to please you so you’ll stop being so mean’ eagerness.
Now, in the defense of this custy, the store has an absurd filing system for its genres and authors: You’ll find Fiction as a sort of all-purpose/catch-all section. James Patterson for a popular [if not quality] example; his mystery/thriller novels will be both in the Mystery section (Kiss the Girls and Sail) and in Fiction (Along Came a Spider and The Swimsuit) or Charlaine Harris’ popular Sookie Stackhouse series (Trueblood on tv) will be have random volumes on shelves in SciFi, Horror and (of course) Fiction. And Neil’s books can be found in much the same ‘order’ 2 copies in SciFi and the rest in Fiction; so, of course, I understood her frustration. But, you can be frustrated without being a Class-A bitch. [Just saying.]
After listening to her belittle this already-little girl for several minutes, I – in my most polite voice – pipe in. [Cue the ‘big mistake’ drumroll/theme music … ]
“Ma’am, I couldn’t help but overhear,” [read: Lady, you’re fuckin’ loud and your voice is grating], “you’re trying to find Neil Gaiman? They had him spread over the 2 sections, but, I …”
[Cue the spoiled rich bitch ice glare of attitude and sudden death.]
I faltered. I momentarily froze up under it. I mean, here I was just trying to be a nice guy and conscientious fellow shopper and she goes all Leona Helmsley on me? [An adult people reference kiddies, ask your parents.] My natural urge is to tell the spoiled little custy to stick it where the ‘sun don’t shine’, but, I also remembered that this was that girl’s job-place. And antagonizing her customer wasn’t my place. Of course, I also am a customer and her assclap behavior was affecting my shopping time.
So, I give her a subtle one-finger-salute as I turn back to eyeglasses shopping and reign in my temper. [Okay, I may have been muttering “Die you scum-sucking bitch” under my breath, sue me.]
“It’s part of a series, I have each of the other books, I want this one. You NEVER have what I want.”
Oh-kay lady, calm down, they’re books [which I love] not diamonds. And, really? What Neil Gaiman book is a part of a series? His Sandman graphic novels? The various incarnations of Stardust? Really lady? Chill the fuck out.
I rolled my eyes heavenwards and did my best to tune her out. Slowly, her voice faded to a quiet din. And not long after? I turned around and saw her [thankfully] gone. See, miracles do happen!
Realizing I'd grabbed a ripped copy of a book I intend to give as a gift, I hustled towards the back section where I'd grabbed it - hobbling along on my cane [foot injury, different story] and hoping to get back swiftly. [Sidenote: I can hobble pretty swiftly at this point on my cane. It's not for nothing that my nickname once was 'House'.]
Of course, I saw her as I limped past the Cooking section. Of course she had a smug/disinterested/condescending look on her face. Of course she had her back to me. So, of course, I happened to bump the small-book display table behind her as I went past - causing it to be off-kilter so that when she turned her purse to move she'd end up knocking a very heavy copy of Julia Child's bound works onto the toes of her more-expensive-than-my-rent shoes. Whoops. Of course I was nowhere near her when she did this. But, I did hear her annoying voice emit a tight "Fucking Hell" as I returned with a new copy of the book.
[Sorry Mum, you did wonder why it took me longer to get back from switching books. Well, now you know.]
Again, let me preface – I don’t work in the bookstore industry ANYMORE. I say this because I want no company to be held responsible if I go all Tonya Harding on this bitch [another adult people joke, kids] should we meet again for round 2.