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Amadan
09-30-2012, 08:03 PM
Okay, all of you people who work/used to work in bookstores, vent here.

(I haven't. I just started this thread because the Returning a book (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=255613) thread - which, ironically, I started in reference to an Audible.com download - has produced a number of anecdotes about terrible behavior by bookstore customers, and I figured y'all want to share. :D)

I have never worked in a bookstore (haven't had to work retail since high school, thank gawd), but I used to hang out at the local Borders all the time when I was in grad school. Holy crap are some people disgusting and thoughtless. Especially college students. You could just see sometimes how the employees were plastering smiles on their faces while trying to restrain the impulse to throttle someone.

Anyway, one of the worst examples I saw was actually a complaint against this Borders posted on the local community wiki. Some dude explained how he and his girlfriend would go into the Borders, sit down on the floor between aisles with a stack of books, take off their shoes, and proceed to spend all day reading.

And he thought the Borders employees were "rude and inconsiderate" when they asked him to use the chairs in the cafe instead of blocking the aisles.

They didn't even kick him out of the store! They just asked him not to sit in the aisles with his stinky feet (and probably they didn't actually mention the stinky feet part).

I couldn't believe this guy had the nerve to complain that Borders wouldn't let him treat the store like it was his living room.

crunchyblanket
09-30-2012, 08:13 PM
I'll be here all day ranting if you let me, so I'm going to keep it brief.

- I already mentioned Breadstick Man in the book-returning thread

- Trevor the Racist was a pig of a man who'd come in to buy his Daily Mail and, depending on his mood, would either fire off racist diatribes at anyone in earshot (Barnet, the place I worked at the time, is a very white middle-class area, so not much chance of actually confronting a 'coloured' with his foul rants) or he'd be verbally abusive. He'd intimidate the older members of staff and for those of us he couldn't intimidate, he'd turn physically abusive - like the time he crept up behind me while I was shelving books, grabbed hold of my ponytail and pulled me halfway across the shop floor. The worst part? My boss was too much of a coward to bar him from the shop, and we had to get the stockroom fella to chase Trevor off whenever he came in.

- Mothers who'd buy their little darlings GCSE revision guides and attempt to return them after the exams finished. "Oh, it was for the wrong exam board," they'd tell us, though the book had clearly been read (creased spine, dogeared cover - "it was like that when I bought it!") If we dared suggest they were trying to pull a fast one they'd write snotty letters to the boss.

- The inevitable idiot customer who'd come in looking for a book.
Me: Do you know what the name of the book is?
Idiot: No
Me: Okay. Who's it by?
Idiot: I don't know.
Me: .....okay. Do you know what it's about? Is it fiction or non-fiction?
Idiot: I'm not sure.
Me:.....what do you know about this book?
Idiot: It's got a blue cover.

- On a related note, we once had a woman come in who had been browsing the 'tragic life stories' section (yes, we had a section specially dedicated to misery porn, oh the shame) She came to the till and asked the following question:
"Do you have any books about a little boy who dies of cancer?"
Amazingly, one of the staff knew of a recently-released book about a little girl who dies of leukaemia, so she suggested it. The follow up question?
"Is it sad?"

- The customer who tried to get a discount on a coffee-stained book. All very well and good, but he was the one who spilled coffee on it in the first place.

I'll have to ask Mr Crunchy if he remembers any other stories....

AbielleRose
09-30-2012, 08:20 PM
Hah, great one Amadan :D

There was one guy who would come in drunk as a skunk and run around touching people's heads. He'd do this to adults, children and anyone he could manage to get close enough to. Then, he'd freak out on them and exclaim that whatever book they happened to be holding or looking at was, THE BEST BOOK IN THE WHOOOOLE UNIVERSE!

Needless to say I called the cops every time he'd try to enter. A few of our bulkier guy employees had to restrain him every now and again. No matter how many times we'd ban him he'd just keep coming back.


There was also a lady who had a little yippy dog as 'a medical comanion' who she would let off the leash in the store. It would run around the isles and jump all over the customers. She eventually was asked not to return if she was going to bring it with her after it peed on the floor. I have no problems with companion pets in public places, BUT DON'T TAKE IT OFF THE LEASH!

Aaaaand the final story for now: There is a lady who's picture is hanging up in the manager's office so all the employees knew who she is. She'd come in, buy 3-5 books at a time, read them and bring every one back a few days later. There was not a single book she bought that she wouldn't bring back, including books with Wal-mart stickers, Target receipts and other proof she got them from other stores. She'd throw huge hissy fits if we didn't refund her money for the OTHER store's books because we were a book business and we should be greatful for another book to sell to someone else.

Cannelle
09-30-2012, 08:23 PM
- The inevitable idiot customer who'd come in looking for a book.
Me: Do you know what the name of the book is?
Idiot: No
Me: Okay. Who's it by?
Idiot: I don't know.
Me: .....okay. Do you know what it's about? Is it fiction or non-fiction?
Idiot: I'm not sure.
Me:.....what do you know about this book?
Idiot: It's got a blue cover.

I'm fairly certain that type of customer exists at every business. I've worked in both video stores (back when such an animal existed) and craft stores, and I've encountered this particular beast in both places. The video store customer usually had a very similar conversation, trying to describe one of the actors or actresses in the film ("It had that guy, he had this hair..." Amazingly enough, I actually GOT that one). The craft store people were utter nightmares. "I bought some fabric here a few years ago, it was blue, it had flowers on it, do you have more of it?" Um, that's like half of our stock, I have no way to do a search for 'blue with flowers,' you'll just have to go look. *Customer stomps off in a huff, muttering about incompetent staff*

At least working customer service has taught me how NOT to act in a store.

CrastersBabies
09-30-2012, 08:31 PM
Damn. There are some crazy people out there! Thank you so much for making this thread.

My only complaint is that I want crazy stories from ALL types of jobs now, too.

crunchyblanket
09-30-2012, 08:36 PM
Damn. There are some crazy people out there! Thank you so much for making this thread.

My only complaint is that I want crazy stories from ALL types of jobs now, too.

Oh, I could give you some crazy stories from working in a hospital (the infamous 'stool sample in a plastic bag' story holds up well...)

Shakesbear
09-30-2012, 08:58 PM
Damn. There are some crazy people out there! Thank you so much for making this thread.

My only complaint is that I want crazy stories from ALL types of jobs now, too.

OK! I worked part time at a local nature reserve. They had wild Konik ponies to graze the reserve which was great as they kept the grass low and fertilized it at the same time. I opened the coffee shop at ten in the morning and on one morning a very irate woman stormed in. I'd already served a few customers who were sitting eating and drinking. She came up to the bar and asked in a very loud voice,
"Where are the ponies?"
To which I replied, "on the fen."
"Yes, I know that! But where, exactly, are they?"
"I don't know, they are wild and move about."
"Well, you ought to know and they ought to be tethered so we can see them!"
"I don't think tethering wild animals would be allowed here."
"They ought to be tethered!" She shouted at me. She stomped out.

The craziest thing . . . a farmer phoned up one morning and asked me if either of the rangers were in, and if they weren't could I give him their phone numbers as he needed to contact them urgently. I knew he was a farmer who had grazing rights on the fen, so gave him the only number I had. About half an hour later one of the rangers arrived and asked me if I'd seen the farmer. I hadn't, so he went out to find him. By this time I was really curious about what was going on. About an a hour later the ranger came back to centre and asked for a very large mug of very strong coffee. He then told me that the day before the farmer had collected some cows as they were about to give birth. He had taken them back to his farm and put them in a barn and gone to bed. At some time in the early hours of the morning he was woken up by the local constabulary banging on his door and telling him that one of his cows was walking down a main road and could he please do something about it. He did, and then realized that she had given birth. Later that morning he realized that he would have to take the cow back to the fen so she could find her calf. Only he couldn't because he had lent the trailer to the ranger. They did find the calf and all was well. The ranger was somewhere between laughing and exasperation. He wanted to know why the farmer had not realized that the cow had given birth. He said "You know, one day there is a huge lump in your cow and the next day there isn't. How can you not notice?"

Eliza azilE
09-30-2012, 09:24 PM
Great stories.

But sometimes the people who work in bookstores are annoying. I suppose I'm thinking of the cooler-than-thou hipsters.

I have been known to do the "I'm looking for a book. Forget what it's called or who wrote it" thing, just for a laugh.

juniper
09-30-2012, 09:24 PM
I worked in a bookstore part-time for a few years. It was great - except I bought so many books - books that I'd never have time to read, but looked interesting when a customer brought it to the counter. Ring it up for him, go get one for me. If I wanted to make extra money, I should have worked in place where I'd never buy the stock. Bookstore customers, for the most part, were wonderful - what's not to like about someone who buys books?

But we had customers who brought in briefcases and stuffed them full of books then tried to walk out. Customers who would buy a book, exchange it a few days later for another, then exchange that one a few days later - went on for several months - management was very tolerant but at some point they said no more.

And as someone else mentioned, the customer who comes in looking for the blue book that was on that table over there a few months ago - no, don't remember title, or author or what it was even about - but it was blue and on that table!

And people who dropped off their little kids to play while they went somewhere else. We called the cops one day about it and that was a mess.

And now I work in a hospital ER and have all sorts of stories - people are just rude and oblivious to what's going on - I'm desensitized to cries of pain, sounds of vomiting, and most smells now, but there's an endless parade of patients and visitors who astound me.

"Why is that man (apparently having a heart attack with a lot of visual / audible signs) going first? I've been waiting."

"Because we prioritize in terms of urgency. Minor care (twisted ankle) sometimes has to wait."

"But I was here first! And I'm going to a movie so I need to get in now!"

And what I usually say then is, "Really, you DON'T want to be the one who gets taken back right away in an ER." And look at them until they realize what I mean, and shuffle away, although they're usually still muttering.

Ah, don't get me started. I'll write all day on the ER events.

JSSchley
09-30-2012, 09:35 PM
And as someone else mentioned, the customer who comes in looking for the blue book that was on that table over there a few months ago - no, don't remember title, or author or what it was even about - but it was blue and on that table!

Although I have to admit, I can get that book for the customer about 80% of the time. Two nights ago, "There was a book about Obama's second term, I think? It was on the front table." "FOOL ME TWICE?" "Not sure." "It's in current affairs; let me show you."

It was the right book.

I dare you to try that on Amazon.

We have a guy who comes in almost every night and we all know him by name. And he complains about everything, while telling us he realizes that endcaps, the merchandise in our store (we've eliminated almost all CDs), the titles that are on tables aren't things we employees get to decide. But he still complains about them to us. Every night.

Go home, dude. I'm just here to put books back on the shelf.

And then there was last month, when we lost our entire shelf of Israeli history because someone sat a coffee on the shelf and it spilled on all of the books. Since then, I've been telling customers they can't put their coffee on shelves or on a promo table but they're welcome to put it on the floor. "But then it might spill." "Yes, but it will spill on the carpet and we just clean the carpet instead of having to take a financial loss on it."

jjdebenedictis
09-30-2012, 09:39 PM
I read this on Twitter the other day:

Customer to barista: Excuse me, this album has looped three times.
Barista: Then maybe you should work in a real office?

CrastersBabies
09-30-2012, 09:46 PM
Oh, I could give you some crazy stories from working in a hospital (the infamous 'stool sample in a plastic bag' story holds up well...)

A friend of mine used to do intake at an emergency room. She had a plethora of stories . . . especially those that involved people putting odd things in their rears.

People are dumbasses in general. The "leaving the kids" in the bookstore for the employees to watch is rage-worthy. As a customer, I walked into Borders, went up the stairs to the 2nd story looking for a CD, and saw a 2-year-old toddle to the edge of the stairs (repeatedly) while the mom chatting on the cell phone. Each time the toddler got near the stairs, she yelled at him. "STAY AWAY from the stairs. JESUS."

As I was leaving, I started down the stairs and felt something fall against the back of my legs, almost knocking ME down. It was the kid. He'd fallen and started to cry something awful (poor thing, who wouldn't?). And had I not been there? Holy cow. I picked him up (to hell with any parent telling me NOT to touch their child when they fall ON me down a set of stairs), and told the mother if she didn't want to watch her child, I'd happily call CPS for her. She told me to "F*** off," grabbed her kid and left.

My husband used to work in the restaurant industry and one of the biggest hazards was kids left unattended to run around, underfoot, while people carried scalding hot liquids, fajita skillets and knives.

As for my own stories, I'll share someday about my stint as a 1-900 Tarot reader. God, do I have some tales. :)

mirandashell
09-30-2012, 10:14 PM
There have been several occasions where I've had to pour hot coffee down myself to avoid spilling it over a small child who is running wild in a cafe.

crunchyblanket
09-30-2012, 10:18 PM
I currently work in a lab just off an antenatal clinic. I know parenthood is exhausting, and I'm sure it's even more exhausting when you've got another on the way, but for the love of all that is good please don't let your child run around unsupervised because one day soon, they're going to run into me, and I'm going to spill the entire box of urine samples and blood tubes over them.

AbielleRose
09-30-2012, 10:22 PM
TBH, kids is one of the main reasons I wait do to my grocery shopping until after 11pm or (or go to Walmart). Last winter I watched a kid who was standing in the cart fall out head first and crack his skull on the cement outside of a store. On top of that his idiot dad had been talking on a cell phone and had walked right in front of a moving car that had to hit the breaks hard to stop from hitting them. It nearly gave me and everyone else watching heart attacks! The guy picked the kid up by the arm, despite his bleeding head, and sat him back in the cart until the ambulance came.

At the bookstore I worked at I can't tell you how many times our booksellers in the children's department would bring boxes full of kids books to the back room damaged pile because parents would let the toddlers suck and chew on them. If you let your kid drool on it, buy the damn book! They're not pacifiers to keep your kid quiet while you look for what you want!

Vito
09-30-2012, 11:00 PM
Instead of a terrible bookstore story, I'm gonna post a happy positive lift-your-spirits bookstore story.

When I was in college I worked as a textbook clerk in the campus bookstore. One weekday evening in the store, shortly before the 7:00 p.m. night classes would begin, I noticed a well-dressed late-twentysomething man silently leaning against the bookshelves in a corner of the store. He looked like a mannequin: petrified, frozen, and blank-faced. The store was extremely busy that evening, and it seemed strange that this guy was perched like a statue while customers swirled all around him. So I decided to walk over and see what was going on.

As I approached, employee name-tag positioned prominently on my stylish blue employee vest, his face relaxed and he seemed to be breathing a sigh of relief. He said, "You work here, right?" I answered, "Yeah, how can I help you?" He then gave me a very quick rundown about how he had split his pants while reaching down to the bottom shelf for a textbook he needed to purchase. His story ended with these words: "Hey man, I just reached right down there and RIP! My pants tore right down the seam in the back. I'm afraid to walk, just in case my pants rip open even more or fall down completely. My boxers are showing in the back, I think."

I'm known for being a fast thinker, a problem solver, a fixer. In short, a "doer", not a "dreamer". So I quickly walked to the store's delivery staging area, grabbed an empty canvas-covered mail cart, and pulled it through the aisles back to where the man was standing. I told him to climb into the cart when nobody else was looking. He carefully rolled himself into the cart and ducked down, to avoid prying customer eyes. Then I discretely pushed the cart back to the staging area. When we got there I took a large stapler from a shelf and handed it to him. "Go into a stall in the employee restroom, take off your pants, and staple 'em back together", I instructed. A few minutes later he emerged from the restroom and said, "Hey, it worked! I stapled 'em back together, nice and tight. Now I'm gonna walk over to McCarthy Hall for my night class. Hope those staples hold out, if you know what I mean! Thanks for the help, man!"

:Thumbs:

Medievalist
09-30-2012, 11:58 PM
Damn. There are some crazy people out there! Thank you so much for making this thread.

My only complaint is that I want crazy stories from ALL types of jobs now, too.

The crazy stories from tech support will frighten you far too much to share :D

Amadan
10-01-2012, 12:06 AM
The crazy stories from tech support will frighten you far too much to share :D


We already know the one about the beverage holder and the any key. :P

Medievalist
10-01-2012, 12:06 AM
This isn't a terrible story so much as an explanation of how to foster an addiction.

When I was 12 or so there was a little card shop where they had a small selection of books specially ordered by the owner's son-in-law who was the manager.

It was summer, I had five dollars of birthday money to buy a book, and we were about to go camping in Maine. He sold me Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea Trilogy (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore).

I didn't have quite enough money for all three books, but he told me he would "cover" for me for the extra (it was not much), and if I didn't love them, he'd buy them back.

I loved them of course.

He also hand-sold me Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, and Dragonflight and Dragon Quest, among many other books.

mirandashell
10-01-2012, 12:07 AM
I love bookstores. Had a lot of books recommended to me by very knowledgable assistants.

Kitty Pryde
10-01-2012, 12:16 AM
My mom used to work at B&N. she had a lot of the "Do you have that book...about the guy...the cover is red?" One lady came in and asked for a book called "E.R. Dragon".
Mom: "Eragon. Yes, we have it over..."
Weird Lady: "No no no. E.R. Dragon. It's a kids book. The cover is blue. It's really popular."
Mom, gesturing extravagantly at a large blue display of large blue Eragon hardbacks: Eragon!
Weird Lady: So you don't have E.R. Dragon.
Mom: No, sorry.

The lady went home, having failed to find, I don't know, a children's medical drama about a dragon.

Marian Perera
10-01-2012, 12:19 AM
Once I was on call at the hospital here in Iqaluit, and sure enough, ER had a patient who needed blood work done late at night. I went in to draw his blood. The patient was an (apparently) unconscious man tied to a bed, but someone had tied his right wrist to his left elbow, covering the vein there, and with his right arm bent I couldn't see that vein either. So I asked the nurse if she could release one of his arms.

The moment she did that the guy came to life, groaned, "Fuuuuck youuuuu!" and tried to hit me.

He was too drunk to be well-coordinated but I leaped back anyway, because I was not risking a needlestick injury. Another ER nurse came running in and asked if I wanted her to draw the blood, so I gladly handed the needle over. So one nurse held him down and the second one drew his blood while he made incoherent noises interspersed with a few more fuck yous for good measure.

Then as she finished, the ER nurse looked over at me (still keeping a safe distance) and said, "Don't worry, he works here."

RichardGarfinkle
10-01-2012, 12:33 AM
There are a couple of collections of absurd stories from a British book store owner's experiences, called Book-Worm Droppings and More Book-Worm Droppings by Shaun Tyas (some are his experiences others were gathered from his circle of acquaintances and friends in bookselling).

They're very funny in a cynical way.

http://www.inprint.co.uk/thebookguide/droppings.htm

Filigree
10-01-2012, 12:46 AM
Some good material to be had in the Brit-com series Black Books.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Books

BenPanced
10-01-2012, 01:03 AM
I used to work at an adult bookstore.

I win.

Lock. Thread.

mrsmig
10-01-2012, 01:23 AM
My least favorite part about working at Barnes & Noble was having to clean the bathrooms when the store closed - specifically, the gents. B&N carried adult magazines and we would often find them in the stalls, where it was evident they had been...um...used.

crunchyblanket
10-01-2012, 01:56 AM
Have I ever mentioned the time I worked at the London Dungeon? London tourist attraction, historical horror type thing, and yet some of the phone calls we got suggested people thought it was a rather different kind of dungeon....

AbielleRose
10-01-2012, 02:11 AM
Have I ever mentioned the time I worked at the London Dungeon? London tourist attraction, historical horror type thing, and yet some of the phone calls we got suggested people thought it was a rather different kind of dungeon....

That's not the one where they take people to where a bunch of people died of the plague, is it? I remember looking through a list of touristy attractions when planning my trip to London a couple years back and that sounds vaguely familliar.

Amadan
10-01-2012, 02:43 AM
I used to work at an adult bookstore.

I win.

Lock. Thread.


She beat you to it (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002MKOQUG).

mirandashell
10-01-2012, 02:52 AM
My least favorite part about working at Barnes & Noble was having to clean the bathrooms when the store closed - specifically, the gents. B&N carried adult magazines and we would often find them in the stalls, where it was evident they had been...um...used.



Errrrrrr yuk!

Filigree
10-01-2012, 03:59 AM
Closely related are public library stories. Family members have worked there. I haunt libraries for research. I love them, but sheesh, some of the other patrons are seriously batshit.

Sai
10-01-2012, 04:11 AM
I still work at a bookstore so I don't want to share too many stories since these aren't just things and people in the past but rather stuff I deal with every other day. One thing that has astounded me is what a messy job it is. When I first started out I was all sparkles and "Yay! I get to be around books and talk about books all day!", and there's a bit of that but there's also cleaning up puddles of piss and vomit. I mean, I worked briefly as a cleaner at a youth hostel in Amsterdam, and I still had to deal with less bodily fluids there than I do at the store.

CrastersBabies
10-01-2012, 04:38 AM
My least favorite part about working at Barnes & Noble was having to clean the bathrooms when the store closed - specifically, the gents. B&N carried adult magazines and we would often find them in the stalls, where it was evident they had been...um...used.

:e2cry:

amergina
10-01-2012, 04:52 AM
I used to write in my local Borders before it closed. I occasionally wrote down the stuff I saw if it was waaay over the top.

I once was witness to mother shouting at the store manager. She'd let her 9-year old autistic son wander around unsupervised while she had a chat with a friend in the cafe. The kid went into the music department and tried to pull down the pants of a woman shopper.

The mother was yelling at the manager because the manager ask her to watch her kid. "What do you want me to do? He's autistic!"

He then explained that yes, he understood her son was autistic and a child, but if she couldn't keep him from assaulting customers, he'd have to call the cops.

The mother stormed out, kid in tow. No apology to the manager or to the shaken woman who her son had tried to disrobe.

buz
10-01-2012, 05:30 AM
There have been several occasions where I've had to pour hot coffee down myself to avoid spilling it over a small child who is running wild in a cafe.

I broke a finger restraining a horse that had the shit scared out of it by a screaming, flailing child.

Some parents seem to think it's a fun day out to take the kids to random barns to see the ponies and just let 'em loose...and don't realize that loud noises and sudden movements (i.e. what many kids are made of) can frighten the everloving balls off a horse. And that a frightened horse is potentially lethal. To the kid, to me, and also potentially harmful to the horse itself.

"Does this one bite?" they'd always ask.

"All of them bite." They have teeth, don't they? :D

'Course, I got equal trouble from construction workers who were always waving stuff around and banging on stuff and leaving their crap everywhere. I once got knocked out because of an improperly-secured tarp going suddenly batshit in a breeze.

That tarp went promptly into the dumpster after that.

Difference with the construction workers is that they were actually invited onto the property. :D

ETA:


My least favorite part about working at Barnes & Noble was having to clean the bathrooms when the store closed - specifically, the gents. B&N carried adult magazines and we would often find them in the stalls, where it was evident they had been...um...used.

Bleaaaaahh...why, why in a bookstore?

Other than some sort of uh, bucket list thing... ("on a train? in a plane? in a library? in a bookstore? movie theater? rollercoaster?")

Medievalist
10-01-2012, 05:38 AM
Closely related are public library stories. Family members have worked there. I haunt libraries for research. I love them, but sheesh, some of the other patrons are seriously batshit.

I've worked in the special collections of two academic libraries.

Where I have caught otherwise reputable scholars vandalizing rare books and mss.

And yes, we do let other special collections with related materials know.

thothguard51
10-01-2012, 05:58 AM
This isn't a terrible story so much as an explanation of how to foster an addiction.

When I was 12 or so there was a little card shop where they had a small selection of books specially ordered by the owner's son-in-law who was the manager.

It was summer, I had five dollars of birthday money to buy a book, and we were about to go camping in Maine. He sold me Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea Trilogy (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore).

I didn't have quite enough money for all three books, but he told me he would "cover" for me for the extra (it was not much), and if I didn't love them, he'd buy them back.

I loved them of course.

He also hand-sold me Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, and Dragonflight and Dragon Quest, among many other books.

^^^ this is why I love book stores over Amazon's suggestion of, readers who book this book also bought these books, which is very impersonal.

Its the personal suggestions I trust more because the personal facial expression of the person suggesting the book tells me what they think of it.

Three cheers for book store employees...

buz
10-01-2012, 06:00 AM
I've worked in the special collections of two academic libraries.

Where I have caught otherwise reputable scholars vandalizing rare books and mss.



Vandalizing?

...*immediately pictures a professor doodling grossly misshapen genitalia on photographs of Stalin or something, giggling to himself*

thothguard51
10-01-2012, 06:17 AM
My least favorite part about working at Barnes & Noble was having to clean the bathrooms when the store closed - specifically, the gents. B&N carried adult magazines and we would often find them in the stalls, where it was evident they had been...um...used.

I was once a food and beverage manager at a Holiday Inn location in Huntsville Alabama. The house maids used to tell us all kinds of stories about things left behind.

You would be surprised at the number of blow up dolls they would find left behind...well used and not as a pool float.

I suggested once that we should send the customer a letter;

Dear Mr XXX,

Thank you for your recent stay with us but when you checked out on such and such a date, you left behind your silicone partner. Please contact us on how we can return this item to you.

Signed, House Keeping...

The Innkeeper laughed at my suggestion but said we could do nothing to embarrass a potential return customer. By law, we had to hold the items for 30 days and if not claimed we would toss them in the trash or donate them to a charity.

Of course, if the items had any real value like jewelry, briefcases, etc, we always tried contacting the customer right away.

shakeysix
10-01-2012, 06:40 AM
This one is a karmic cautionary tale.

My niece is an only child of wealthy parents who had her late in life. She is twenty two, a nice kid but no ball of fire and well... entitled. While in high school, while waiting in line for fast food or some other commercial service she would habitually flip open her cell phone, call customer service and log a complaint, using the name tag, badge number, register number, of the employee that was wasting her precious time by making her wait in line.
Fast forward five years--to quote Steely Dan--"the weekends at the college didn't work out." I understand that there was some technicality about actually having to attend classes--anyway . now my niece is working as an underpaid, over hassled barista at Barnes and Noble. Guess what some snot nosed fourteen year old did to her while waiting in her line--s6

buz
10-01-2012, 06:45 AM
I was once a food and beverage manager at a Holiday Inn location in Huntsville Alabama. The house maids used to tell us all kinds of stories about things left behind.

You would be surprised at the number of blow up dolls they would find left behind...well used and not as a pool float.

I suggested once that we should send the customer a letter;

Dear Mr XXX,

Thank you for your recent stay with us but when you checked out on such and such a date, you left behind your silicone partner. Please contact us on how we can return this item to you.

Signed, House Keeping...

The Innkeeper laughed at my suggestion but said we could do nothing to embarrass a potential return customer. By law, we had to hold the items for 30 days and if not claimed we would toss them in the trash or donate them to a charity.


For some reason my eyes skipped right over the "toss them in the trash or" bit...and I thought...that's an odd charity. :D

Bookewyrme
10-01-2012, 07:06 AM
Damn. There are some crazy people out there! Thank you so much for making this thread.

My only complaint is that I want crazy stories from ALL types of jobs now, too.

There used to be a forum for people to talk about the crazy things that happened to them at work (retail, tech support, regular office, library etc). It also had an attached comic drawn by Jennie Breeden, where she would illustrate some of the funnier stories.

Unfortunately, I can NOT remember the name of it, and my google-fu has come up entirely empty.

LJD
10-01-2012, 07:13 AM
^^^ this is why I love book stores over Amazon's suggestion of, readers who book this book also bought these books, which is very impersonal.

Its the personal suggestions I trust more because the personal facial expression of the person suggesting the book tells me what they think of it.

Three cheers for book store employees...

See, I have never asked a bookstore employee for a recommendation, and I'm not sure they'd be able to give me one. I don't think the big stores are really set up for that, and there isn't much else around here.

They do sometimes have "recommended" tables with a sticker of which employee recommended it. I don't pay any attention to this though.

Toothpaste
10-01-2012, 08:25 AM
Well you'll be never know if you don't try. I know several people who work in big box bookstores who have a true passion and knowledge of books.

thothguard51
10-01-2012, 09:22 AM
Big box, or small mom and pop, if you don't ask you will never know. A good employee will find out your interest and recommend from there. I have even had them tell me Fantasy was not their speciality and then introduce me to another employee who did. Now that is class...

Vito
10-01-2012, 09:47 PM
This one is a karmic cautionary tale.

My niece is an only child of wealthy parents who had her late in life. She is twenty two, a nice kid but no ball of fire and well... entitled. While in high school, while waiting in line for fast food or some other commercial service she would habitually flip open her cell phone, call customer service and log a complaint, using the name tag, badge number, register number, of the employee that was wasting her precious time by making her wait in line.
Fast forward five years--to quote Steely Dan--"the weekends at the college didn't work out." I understand that there was some technicality about actually having to attend classes--anyway . now my niece is working as an underpaid, over hassled barista at Barnes and Noble. Guess what some snot nosed fourteen year old did to her while waiting in her line--s6

Karmic. Definitely karmic! :scared:

Medievalist
10-01-2012, 11:16 PM
Vandalizing?

...*immediately pictures a professor doodling grossly misshapen genitalia on photographs of Stalin or something, giggling to himself*

I've seen books after a scholar signed them out returned with new highlighting, in priceless editions, with markers.

I've seen books with underlining, too, but mostly, they remove pages from books, or cut out illuminations.

JSSchley
10-02-2012, 12:21 AM
There used to be a forum for people to talk about the crazy things that happened to them at work (retail, tech support, regular office, library etc). It also had an attached comic drawn by Jennie Breeden, where she would illustrate some of the funnier stories.

Unfortunately, I can NOT remember the name of it, and my google-fu has come up entirely empty.

Possibly notalwaysright.com (http://notalwaysright.com/)?

Old Hack
10-02-2012, 01:33 AM
I bring you Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops (http://jen-campbell.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/weird%20things%20customers%20say). It's a fab book.

Note also that Jen, who wrote it, is now at work on its sequel and has asked for stories and contributions. See her blog, linked to above.

tjwriter
10-02-2012, 01:42 AM
There have been several occasions where I've had to pour hot coffee down myself to avoid spilling it over a small child who is running wild in a cafe.

I did indeed pour a pot of hot coffee all over my pregnant belly while working in a diner once. The little brat that came racing around the corner didn't even apologize.

AbielleRose
10-02-2012, 01:52 AM
I did indeed pour a pot of hot coffee all over my pregnant belly while working in a diner once. The little brat that came racing around the corner didn't even apologize.

It always shocks me when a kid does something kind without being asked. The other day a boy from my apartment building was running around in the parking lot having fun and he stopped to come open the door for me because my arms were full of grocery bags. I was truly stunned.

A few months ago at Red Lobster my friend and I had just sat down and we were about to order when the couple behind us summoned our waitress mid sentence because they were PISSED the manager of the restaruant hadn't come by their table to welcome them. They did not know him personally and after she left to go find him this couple went on and on about how rude she had been to not think about asking the manager to greet them without them having said something. They then didn't tip her because of this.

My friend and I left her a little extra to make up for their rudeness (she was a rather nice, good waitress and deserved it).

mirandashell
10-02-2012, 01:54 AM
These cultural differences...... if a manager came over to me in a restaurant, I would immediately think something was wrong.

Mr Flibble
10-02-2012, 03:45 AM
Possibly notalwaysright.com (http://notalwaysright.com/)?

This needs a 'worse than TV tropes for time-sinking' warning...

Cyia
10-02-2012, 04:28 AM
Jen Campbell, an author in the UK, has a book called "Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops," where she's gathered her own experiences and those of other bookshop workers. She's actually got an open call now for anyone with anecdotes to share -- some of you should Google her.

Mr Flibble
10-02-2012, 04:41 AM
I bet she'd love the story about the guy who takes a tenner out of the pocket he's just pissed in

That isn't even the worst story...

DreamWeaver
10-02-2012, 07:51 AM
I went for a term of about six continuous weeks where every day I found gum stuck on a shelf, under a shelf, or thoughtfully placed between a book and the shelf to stablize both objects. It got to where I didn't feel like a shift was done if I hadn't pried gum off of something.

Election season was pretty funny. The two factions would go at it, guerilla-warfare style. Conservatives would hide liberal books behind right-wing tomes, liberals would turn all the conservative books backwards, the conservatives would turn all the liberal books upside down, then we'd start finding the more influential books of both sides hidden behind large, unpopular, unlikely-to-be-moved coffee-table clunkers in cooking or sports. All election season would be a constant game of finding the rearranged books and putting them back where they belonged. It made straightening the children's section look like child's play.

I'd kind of laugh at that kind of immaturity, though. I would get seriously angry (but never actually caught anyone doing it) with people who thought it was funny to move sex manuals to the children's section.

Brett Marie
10-03-2012, 03:36 PM
Two quotes from working at Borders (and I hope this isn't condescending to customers -- they were both nice people, after all):

"Do you have that classic book, Catcher in the Eye?"

[From an obese man with heavy stubble, a skin condition of some sort and hair everywhere except on his head]: "Have you got that book How to Look Good Naked?"

DragonHeart
10-03-2012, 07:47 PM
Oh, the stories I have about retail. That the same sort of crap happens in a bookstore, or anywhere else public, really, surprises me not at all.

Here's one of the more recent ones I was around for. It was a Saturday morning a few weeks ago. We had coffee on sale for a good price (I guess, I don't buy that brand). Naturally, it being the last day of the sale we were out of stock of the coffee. So this older guy comes in specifically to look for the coffee. When he was told we didn't have any he got so enraged on his way out the door he told us, the employees, we should all have our throats slit, complete with gesture.

In the last month alone we've had two different flashers coming in. One was kicked out from one of our other stores, he hasn't flashed anyone at our store yet. We got the other one arrested because he was flashing our younger female cashiers. Oh and in the last couple weeks we've had a pedophile coming in and printing his nasty (non-explicit, but a close thing) pictures on our kiosks. He finally came in when the manager was around so I was able to point him out, show the boss some of his pictures and my boss said he'd take care of it, ie kick him out.

Stacia Kane
10-03-2012, 08:15 PM
Oh and in the last couple weeks we've had a pedophile coming in and printing his nasty (non-explicit, but a close thing) pictures on our kiosks. He finally came in when the manager was around so I was able to point him out, show the boss some of his pictures and my boss said he'd take care of it, ie kick him out.


I believe the police should also be called here. Immediately. JMO.

DragonHeart
10-03-2012, 08:36 PM
Possibly. It's not my decision to make, though. I do know in the case of photos there are some legal limitations there, like we can't turn them in as evidence because although they were printed at our store, the customer owns the copyright. Or something. One of the other management staff members was looking into that actually, if and how we could report it. I don't know if anything came of it though, as I was off for a few days.

CQuinlan
10-03-2012, 09:13 PM
I used to work at an adult bookstore.

I win.

Lock. Thread.

Ha! Not quite, my dear. I worked in a newsagents that sold porn books, magazines and Dvds when I was fourteen!

And mostly it didn't bother me. 99% of those costumers were really polite and while 1% might have tried to bring them back...used....as I said most were good.

We were close to a hospital so we got a lot of sick people. Again, no problem unless the kids vomited into the stands.

Or the mentally challenged guy who drooled into his hands and needed to be led to the till by holding his hand. It wasn't his fault at all and he was really gentle but he wasn't minded properly and usually was in need of a bath.

Or someone took out their cash and had to cough. They always, always cough into the hand holding the money.

But the worst were the people who would be really rude and demand your time for at least half an hour and leave without buying anything and without thanking you even if you bent over backwards to help them.

There was that one guy who tried to look up little girls skirts but that was dealt with pretty quick.


...And that was probably my favourite job so far...well damnit...

M.Macabre
10-03-2012, 09:52 PM
As a former barista (and yes, that sort of barista) so I have a couple of stories I can share:


So these three men in full business regalia, complete with briefcases, and proceed to push two large tables together and set-up a ''mobile office''. Annoying, yes, but it didn't really affect me so I kept on cleaning, as I was the only one on the floor because my boss was listening to music to a coworker in the back while "counting tills" (which cumulated into a whole other scenario which I'm pretty sure I'm not legally allowed to discuss). Almost immediately, one of the guys tell me that the music is too loud, and I need to turn it down. I complied, but of course, once I came back onto the floor, it wasn't turned down enough, as he instructed, I "would need to turn it off completely''. I did, and five minutes later, another customer came up and complained that there was no music. Naturally I took the opportunity to explain why there was no music, and group of businessmen that were keeping it from coming back on. It ends up loud, older women really like their music.


Once, a creepy scammer came in, ordered two coffees worth about a dollar each, dropped them, and asked for five dollar drinks. Which is really common, but what made it weird was that he was wearing a mask, dressed in obvious landscaper gear, and didn't speak any English. The entire morning crew just wanted him out of there, so we rushed to fix him his new drinks, but that didn't stop multiple people from coming up to me and complaining that this was a [blank] chain and we shouldn't allow people like that [hispanic landscapers] into the store in the first place.


Another time I received a complaint that a woman got whip cream on her ice blended beverage and that she was planning on suing if we didn't give her entire family free drinks. Her reasoning? What if she had been allergic to dairy? Never mind that she ordered a 800 calorie chocolate drink with whole milk in it and told us she wanted whip, we could have killed her.


A really cocky guy once came in and was a complete asshole to my entire crew, and proceeded to be extremely loud and watch videos with his friend at a counter. About twenty minutes into his escapade he broke his chair mid-laughter. Given that it was a busy weekend, there were no extra seats so he just stood there for a second before he motioned me to come over, at which point I informed him that I was going have to take his stool as it posed a potential safety hazard.
"Don't you have any extra seats in the back?"
"No."
We did.
"Can't you fix it?"
"I'm sorry, but we're going to have to call utilities to come out and replace the chair."
I fixed it about twenty minutes after he left.

DreamWeaver
10-03-2012, 10:12 PM
Or someone took out their cash and had to cough. They always, always cough into the hand holding the money.This! I was so happy when they invented hand sanitizer. I kept it by the cash register so I could clean my hands after having to smile and take that money. Yuk! (Yes, I waited until they turned away ;) )

Medievalist
10-03-2012, 11:51 PM
I believe the police should also be called here. Immediately. JMO.

Call the cops. Absolutely.

Lyra Jean
10-03-2012, 11:59 PM
These cultural differences...... if a manager came over to me in a restaurant, I would immediately think something was wrong.

Being greeted by the manager is not an American thing. These people must have thought they were some sort of special snowflake. :)

Old Hack
10-04-2012, 12:38 AM
Possibly. It's not my decision to make, though. I do know in the case of photos there are some legal limitations there, like we can't turn them in as evidence because although they were printed at our store, the customer owns the copyright. Or something. One of the other management staff members was looking into that actually, if and how we could report it. I don't know if anything came of it though, as I was off for a few days.

I am not a lawyer, but I wouldn't mind betting that concerns over copyright issues are trumped by suspected paedophile activity.

Call the police, pronto.

Momento Mori
10-04-2012, 01:07 AM
I used to work in a UK store with a books department and I was covering the till there one day when a guy came in seeking to return a copy of Cynthia Payne's autobiography (Payne was a famous madam for those who don't know).

Anyway as a humble till monkey, I didn't have the power to give a refund so I politely explained that I had to get the manager. The guy said this wasn't a problem and my manager duly came over and picked up the book, flicking through it. Or rather, trying to flick through it. It seemed that the customer was a pioneer of interactivity in literature.

So we're all standing there, looking at this sperm encrusted book and I'm mortified because I'm only a teenager and I've never seen bodily fluids of that type before and my manager is giving the now-squirming customer a serious case of the 'I know what you did last summer and last night' eye. After a moment, my manager says: "Is this your sperm, sir?" The guy shuffles his feet and tries to say that it was like that when he bought it. My manager replies. "Oh I don't think so, sir. The book team here are all female and we're a respectable shop that doesn't encourage that sort of behaviour in our aisles. I think you should take your property home, don't you?"

The guy takes the book and leaves without another word.

The manager remains one of the few I have any respect for.

MM

Stacia Kane
10-04-2012, 01:33 AM
MM, I *love* your manager.

I cannot imagine how awesome it would be to hear or utter the line, "Is this your sperm, sir?"

OMG.

Momento Mori
10-04-2012, 01:39 AM
:D She was an awesome manager. It wasn't a surprise when head office nabbed her.

MM

mirandashell
10-04-2012, 02:32 AM
Being greeted by the manager is not an American thing. These people must have thought they were some sort of special snowflake.


Ah I see. My apologies.

underthecity
10-04-2012, 05:17 AM
When I was 20 I worked at Waldenbooks from 1991 to 1993. Waldenbooks is gone now, so I can talk about it.

I was hired as a bookseller and I loved that part of the job. However, part of the job was selling the Preferred Reader card, which cost $10 a year and saved 10%. If a person was buying $50 or more of books, he'd save right there if he bought the card.

Our jobs depended on selling that stupid card. You had to sell a certain percentage every week of the PR card. If not, there were consequences.

You had to give the spiel to every customer. Every. One. I tried my hardest, but I couldn't sell them as often as the company required. My hours were reduced eventually, and after two years I quit and went on to Krogers where I had better hours, did less work, and made better money.

I hated the Preferred Reader card. And a lot of customers didn't like being hassled about, too.

During my second year there, the company decided to jump on to the early '90s bandwagon of Restructuring the Organization, and sunk a ton of money into a firm to find out how to streamline all of Walden's operations at the store level. I saw through all the bull and predicted the company, highly dependent on the PR card, would be bankrupt in a year. They came up with all kinds of ridiculous ideas of how to organize the store and back rooms, forgetting that every store had a different-sized back room and storage. It got stupid. And pointless.

I was slightly wrong about my prediction about bankruptcy. Waldens got sold from KMart to another comany about year later, I forget which. They hung on for another decade until recent years, when you all know what happened to the small chain bookstores.

Most of the time, I like my job. I just didn't like the corporate bs and the Preferred Reader card. Anyone have any experiences with it, either as a customer or bookseller?

DreamWeaver
10-04-2012, 07:34 AM
I was lucky enough to work at Waldenbooks when they gave a free card that provided a $5 coupon after spending $100, plus allowed the company to email customers coupons, often up to 40% off. I had no trouble getting people to sign up for the card, though some of my fellow booksellers did. I think the main difference was, I believed it was a good idea (it saved me more than my booksellers discount :D). It's always easier to "sell" something you believe in.

Oh, and I did two other things: I didn't say "Would you like one?" I said, "Let me give you one." Plus, I trained myself to nod my head up and down in emphasis rather than shaking it side to side. Watch body language and you'll see in the US it's very common to emphasize even positive things by shaking the head side to side. Unfortunately, the same gesture means "no" and I figured the "no" could come across as a subliminal message. It almost broke my neck to learn to nod for emphasis instead, but I think it worked. My percentage was very close to 100%, and I never gave anyone the hard sell.

Even more luckily, I quit before they turned the card back into one customers had to buy...I would have failed miserably with that one ;).

Lineykins
10-04-2012, 08:35 AM
Thanks for the laughs - so many funny stories on this thread.

I haven't worked at a bookstore but I do recall one particular visit to the library: I was at a table, writing, and a man at the same table slowly removed his clothes (while pretending to read some huge reference book) until he was stark naked.

Not every day that I sit next to a naked man at the library.
:-)

heyjude
10-04-2012, 02:43 PM
What a great thread.

I would just like to apologize to every bookstore employee everywhere for being the person who marches up to the help desk decisively, leaning over, and saying, "Could you please help me find the book... by... Um... Oh, shoot. I think the cover's got a blue-ish color? It might be by that woman who wrote that other book? Do you remember that one?" :rolleyes:

DragonHeart
10-04-2012, 03:09 PM
I don't know much about bookselling, but I do know those books with the blue covers are infamous. :D

Stacia Kane
10-04-2012, 07:32 PM
I used to write in my local Borders before it closed. I occasionally wrote down the stuff I saw if it was waaay over the top.

I once was witness to mother shouting at the store manager. She'd let her 9-year old autistic son wander around unsupervised while she had a chat with a friend in the cafe. The kid went into the music department and tried to pull down the pants of a woman shopper.

The mother was yelling at the manager because the manager ask her to watch her kid. "What do you want me to do? He's autistic!"

He then explained that yes, he understood her son was autistic and a child, but if she couldn't keep him from assaulting customers, he'd have to call the cops.

The mother stormed out, kid in tow. No apology to the manager or to the shaken woman who her son had tried to disrobe.



I took my Princess to a bookstore one day (well, we went often, but one particular day) because she loved to play with the little train table they had there; I was pregnant with the Faerie so Princess would have been about three.

Some of you know that Princess is...well, "quirky." She had some language delays, and for a while was in a special preschool and then kindergarten program for kids with delays. We had her tested for autism a few times and basically got "Well, maybe she is, she's borderline, but we can't absolutely diagnose her." That sort of thing. She did advance to the point where she no longer was eligible for free therapy etc. from the state, but at the time she was still in a program.

Anyway. I was at the table reading and she was playing with the trains, and this other girl came in and started basically taking the toys away from her and being rude to her. This girl was maybe five? At the time echolalia was something of an issue with Princess, so this girl would say something and Princess would repeat it, and the kid was just being rude, basically. She kept saying how weird Princess was, stuff like that. I asked where her mother was and she sort of waved a hand: "Out there reading."

I understood that the girl was a child herself, but it was really upsetting. Not just the snotty comments, but the fact that she kept taking toys away from Princess. I finally left in tears, furious at whomever the woman was who just sent her kid off into the childrens' section and didn't even bother to check on her once. Not once. And we sat there for a good forty-five minutes before I'd had enough.

If I hadn't been so upset I would have hunted her down and presented her with my bill for babysitting.

heza
10-04-2012, 07:57 PM
Not a bookstore story, but it did happen at work and it's the result of awful parenting.

At my office, the owner came in very rarely. She didn't know our names--she called me by the wrong name every time she breezed through, even though I corrected her every time and even though there were only, like, twenty employees in the company.

She would sometimes bring her six-year-old daughter, who was allowed to run crazy while we were trying to conduct business. I went to the printer and came back to find the girl digging through my desk. She emerged with a fistful of quarters. And then I spoke up.

Me: "Did you know that's my desk and those are my quarters? You shouldn't touch other people's things without permission."

Her: "Nu-uh. My mom is the boss. I can do whatever I want."

Me: "Those are my quarters. Put them back where you got them. And go ask your mom for money if you want it and she can give you HER quarters."

Her: "My mom pays you, so these ARE her quarters!"

I told the boss's receptionist (because the boss had disappeared), and I was, indeed, informed that the kid had the run of the office and why didn't I just let her have the quarters since it was no big deal? Worst place I ever worked. Ever.

Torgo
10-04-2012, 08:11 PM
There used to be a forum for people to talk about the crazy things that happened to them at work (retail, tech support, regular office, library etc). It also had an attached comic drawn by Jennie Breeden, where she would illustrate some of the funnier stories.

Unfortunately, I can NOT remember the name of it, and my google-fu has come up entirely empty.

www.notalwaysright.com may be what you're thinking of.

MaryMumsy
10-04-2012, 10:00 PM
Some 30 years ago I'm in the china/crystal/expensive department of a high end department store. There is a display table made of two clear, but heavy, plastic saw horses and a huge sheet of thick plate glass. On the table is a display of Waterford crystal, you know, the decorative pieces that cost lots more than the drinking glasses.

As I'm waiting my turn to pay for something there is a woman who is taking forever in front of me (details of why are lost in time). Suddenly I see the clerk's face take on a horror stricken expression. The son of the woman (kid appeared about 9-10 years old) is crawling on his hands and knees in and out and around the saw horses, bumping into them, causing a tinkle of crystal. The mother kind of glanced over, said nothing to her kid, and continued on with her business.

I thought the clerk was going to faint by the time they left.

MM

DancingMaenid
10-04-2012, 10:55 PM
So we're all standing there, looking at this sperm encrusted book and I'm mortified because I'm only a teenager and I've never seen bodily fluids of that type before and my manager is giving the now-squirming customer a serious case of the 'I know what you did last summer and last night' eye. After a moment, my manager says: "Is this your sperm, sir?" The guy shuffles his feet and tries to say that it was like that when he bought it. My manager replies. "Oh I don't think so, sir. The book team here are all female and we're a respectable shop that doesn't encourage that sort of behaviour in our aisles. I think you should take your property home, don't you?"

Your manager sounds awesome.

underthecity
10-05-2012, 04:53 AM
One evening while I was working at Waldenbooks, this old man wearing a bolo tie came in and started shouting at us behind the counter about a book in the New Releases rack. He held it up saying, "This book teaches kids how to kill!" And went on and on about it.

Danny, the guy in charge, tried to diffuse the situation and told the man, still quite irate, that he would check it out. The man soon left. We had a store full of customers who saw this.

The book in question was Teach Me To Kill (http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Me-Kill-Stephen-Sawicki/dp/0380766493/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349398127&sr=8-1&keywords=teach+me+to+kill), a true crime book that had just come in. I hadn't even seen it yet.

If the man had bothered reading the back cover instead of yelling about the title, he would have known it was a true crime book, and not a manual on how to kill.

That had me so flustered that a customer that I was ringing up shook his head and said "Just a crazy old man."

crunchyblanket
10-05-2012, 10:34 PM
It seemed that the customer was a pioneer of interactivity in literature.
.....
After a moment, my manager says: "Is this your sperm, sir?"

That's twice you've made me choke on my tea.

JSSchley
12-19-2012, 09:22 AM
Ah went to hunt down this thread just so I could vent this one. It's the holidays, when everyone thinks a bookstore is a great place to buy gifts (it is!...but it'd be nice if people had sense.)

Customer to me: "Do you all sell Amazon gift cards?"
Me: "No, sir, I'm sorry. Barnes & Noble does not sell gift cards for Amazon. You can buy one to use at Barnes & Noble, bn.com, or on a nook right over there."
Customer, looking bewildered: "Really? None for Amazon?"
Me: "There are several stores in this strip mall that probably have gift card kiosks."
Customer: "But you don't have any."
Me: "That would be like Coke selling you a credit to use to buy Pepsi."

That was when it dawned on him what he was asking.

The funny thing is, because I know excellent customer service ultimately results in repeat customers, I told him where he could go to get an Amazon card once he appeared appropriately chagrined.

Stacia Kane
12-19-2012, 03:29 PM
What kind of dumbass doesn't know to go on Amazon to buy an Amazon gift card?

Mr Flibble
12-19-2012, 03:43 PM
You'd think book shops wouldn't sell Kindles either, but there's a whole display of them in the local Waterstones. Which seems batty to me (and to the staff!). But if they sold kindles, then a gift card to go with it isn't a stretch.

JSSchley
12-19-2012, 08:01 PM
Well, in his defense, you can get an Amazon card at the grocery store or Target or places like that. So it wasn't entirely unreasonable for him to think he could get a giftcard in a physical location. But many, many people just see "books" and don't think about the fact that the bricks and mortar stores are in competition with Amazon, not partners with them.

As for the Kindle in Waterstone's...that's really interesting. Because to the best of my knowledge, you can't buy ebooks from Waterstones and put them on the Kindle without breaking the DRM (not that breaking the DRM is difficult, but...) That used to be one of my handsell points for the nook, before B&N had an official market in the UK--"You can keep using Waterstones if you want."

Of course, here, I often mention that people can buy Google ebooks from their independent bookstores and the money goes to the indie.

Rogue bookseller! :D

RedWombat
12-19-2012, 10:41 PM
Oh, well, if we're telling stories...I have a few good ones from retail, but my absolute favorite, hands down, was back in college, when I worked as a receptionist at a vet.

One cold winter day, the door is flung open, and in comes a tiny little woman in her seventies, with a spectacular purple hat (with cherries on it) a very smart houndstooth coat, a large handbag...and a boxer on a leash.

The boxer was a young uncut male. There was, fortunately, not an ounce of malice in him, but the dog clearly weighed a good deal more than his owner, had a brain the size of a lentil and OHMYGODTHEREAREPEOPLE-PEOPLE-PEOPLE-WANTTOSNIFFALLTHEPEOPLE!

He takes off a dead run across the office, dragging his owner with him, leaps on me, knocks me into the wall, leaps on the next person, leaps on a very startled person in the waiting room, leaps on one of the vet techs coming through the door--I mean, this is probably a ninety pound dog wagging his hind end furiously and licking anything that comes into range. You get used to being jumped on in this line of work, so it wasn't shocking, but that's still quite a lot of dog.

The little old lady is being dragged along on the leash, and is sort of orbiting the dog, not entirely under her own power.

"It's okay!" she yells. "I can handle it!"

Well...if you say so...

The dog makes a second circuit of the room and his owner reaches into her handbag and pulls out a giant wooden paddle with "Board of Education" written on it.

She then begins smacking the boxer on the ass with the paddle. The dog pays exactly zero attention to this, as you might expect.

"Don't worry!" she yells, as the dog drags her on yet another round of the waiting room, "it doesn't hurt him! The noise gets his attention!"

The noise was not getting his attention, and lady, we were not worried about the dog getting hurt. (The receptionists, at this point, were laughing too hard to do anything useful.)

Finally two vet techs manage to tackle the dog and wrestle him into the back room. The little old lady puts the Board of Education back in her purse, straightens her hat with now slightly bedraggled cherries, and marches with great dignity into the back.

This happened close to twenty years ago now, and I can still picture her vividly. I left the vet before the dog came in for his next check-up, so I'm not sure if he ever learned any manners, but he was certainly cheerful about everything.

Torgo
12-19-2012, 11:22 PM
Well, in his defense, you can get an Amazon card at the grocery store or Target or places like that. So it wasn't entirely unreasonable for him to think he could get a giftcard in a physical location. But many, many people just see "books" and don't think about the fact that the bricks and mortar stores are in competition with Amazon, not partners with them.

As for the Kindle in Waterstone's...that's really interesting. Because to the best of my knowledge, you can't buy ebooks from Waterstones and put them on the Kindle without breaking the DRM (not that breaking the DRM is difficult, but...) That used to be one of my handsell points for the nook, before B&N had an official market in the UK--"You can keep using Waterstones if you want."

Of course, here, I often mention that people can buy Google ebooks from their independent bookstores and the money goes to the indie.

Rogue bookseller! :D

I was in Waterstones the other day and a staff member was hand-selling Kindles. "The great thing about Amazon," he said, "is that a lot of the books are 99p!" That's when I started looking for jobs in other industries.

calieber
12-20-2012, 12:16 AM
The lady went home, having failed to find, I don't know, a children's medical drama about a dragon.

Well, that's going in my bunny file.

Bookewyrme
12-20-2012, 07:07 AM
You'd think book shops wouldn't sell Kindles either, but there's a whole display of them in the local Waterstones. Which seems batty to me (and to the staff!). But if they sold kindles, then a gift card to go with it isn't a stretch.
One of the big US chains sells (or used to a couple years ago anyway) Kindles too. I can't remember if it's Borders or Books-a-Million though. I've definitely always thought that was a bit weird.

DancingMaenid
12-20-2012, 10:17 AM
What kind of dumbass doesn't know to go on Amazon to buy an Amazon gift card?

I use Amazon gift cards to buy things for myself on Amazon so that I don't need to use a credit card. The gift cards would be pretty pointless for me if I had to buy them online!

I have more sense than to ask for them at Barnes and Noble, though. I did take a quick peek once to see if they had them, but I wasn't exactly surprised that they didn't. Especially since B&N has their Nook, which is a direct competitor of the Amazon Kindle.

ArachnePhobia
12-20-2012, 07:01 PM
I use Amazon gift cards to buy things for myself on Amazon so that I don't need to use a credit card. The gift cards would be pretty pointless for me if I had to buy them online!

I have more sense than to ask for them at Barnes and Noble, though. I did take a quick peek once to see if they had them, but I wasn't exactly surprised that they didn't. Especially since B&N has their Nook, which is a direct competitor of the Amazon Kindle.

I am so relieved that's not just me! :)

frimble3
12-21-2012, 09:36 AM
I am so relieved that's not just me! :)
Gift cards instead of a credit card? Yeah, me too.

C.M. Daniels
12-22-2012, 12:59 PM
I've worked at bookstores and libraries over the years and am currently part-time at my local library. About a month ago I had some people come in who were desperately looking for "To Kill a Mockingbird". They went out into the stacks (wrong section) and came back to the desk, irate that they hadn't found it. I walked them to where it was and pulled it out for them. They both wrinkled their faces like I'd just offered them a shit sandwich and started cussing at me that that wasn't the book they wanted and how incompetent was I that I didn't have the right book. I tried to ask them a few questions as they continued to verbally abuse me and had to bring in the circulation supervisor. They just kept getting more wound up and my supervisor asked them to leave. As they were heading out the door, they told us to go F ourselves because all libraries should have a copy of the last Hunger Games book.

bearilou
12-22-2012, 05:29 PM
I read all these horrific encounters and it just makes me resolved to be super ultra nice to the bookstore employee again, next time I go in and ask:

Okay. The cover is sort of sepia colored and it has a skeleton with a top hat on it. It's about some necromancer whose name escapes me. Sorry, I don't remember the author. Or the title. Or the main character's name. I think the guy sold his soul. I distinctly remember it being a skeleton in a top hat.

...and the employee finally finds it (http://www.amazon.com/Johannes-Cabal-Necromancer-Jonathan-Howard/dp/0767930762/ref=la_B001JS2W26_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356182912&sr=1-1), the only copy in the bookstore and misshelved to boot.

She was a champ.

Liosse de Velishaf
12-28-2012, 05:59 PM
When I was 20 I worked at Waldenbooks from 1991 to 1993. Waldenbooks is gone now, so I can talk about it.

I was hired as a bookseller and I loved that part of the job. However, part of the job was selling the Preferred Reader card, which cost $10 a year and saved 10%. If a person was buying $50 or more of books, he'd save right there if he bought the card.

Our jobs depended on selling that stupid card. You had to sell a certain percentage every week of the PR card. If not, there were consequences.

You had to give the spiel to every customer. Every. One. I tried my hardest, but I couldn't sell them as often as the company required. My hours were reduced eventually, and after two years I quit and went on to Krogers where I had better hours, did less work, and made better money.

I hated the Preferred Reader card. And a lot of customers didn't like being hassled about, too.

During my second year there, the company decided to jump on to the early '90s bandwagon of Restructuring the Organization, and sunk a ton of money into a firm to find out how to streamline all of Walden's operations at the store level. I saw through all the bull and predicted the company, highly dependent on the PR card, would be bankrupt in a year. They came up with all kinds of ridiculous ideas of how to organize the store and back rooms, forgetting that every store had a different-sized back room and storage. It got stupid. And pointless.

I was slightly wrong about my prediction about bankruptcy. Waldens got sold from KMart to another comany about year later, I forget which. They hung on for another decade until recent years, when you all know what happened to the small chain bookstores.

Most of the time, I like my job. I just didn't like the corporate bs and the Preferred Reader card. Anyone have any experiences with it, either as a customer or bookseller?


I really can't understand that philosophy. I have friends who work at the Hastings Entertainment chain, and they have to do the whole "sell this special item to keep your hours up" shit. Who came up with this strategy?

I've never worked in a bookstore or in retail, but at the Hastings store where my friend worked, I remember once buying some RockBand gear, and they must have been between shifts or something, because the poor 4'2" book manager was the one who came over to help me, and even with the stepladder she couldn't reach the controllers on top of the game case. She seemed downright shocked when I offered to get the stuff down myself. I mean, maybe they have a policy about that or something? But she spent the entire trip up to the register apologizing for letting me take the stuff I wanted down instead of making her do it...


In another instance, I was at Borders (before it closed :( ) during the holidays, and I always buy a lot of books, so I was carrying my stack of ten or so to the register, and some other customer stopped me and asked where to find some book or other. I apologized and informed her I was not an employee, but perhaps she should look over there *points out the obvious section to look in*, and she got kinda huffy and grabbed a near-by employee and started complaining about my bad attitude, and then demanding to know where the thing she wanted was. I don't know what this employee's position was, but he didn't know what she was talking about, probably because of her ranting, and she started yelling for a manager and complaining quite loudly about both of our attitudes towards customers. I finally managed to grab the poor guy's arm and tell him where the book was so he could tell her. By the time his manager got there, she had already waddled off to get the book. When the manager heard what had happened I swear he lost the power of speech for like five minutes, and when he got it back, he told me that if I ever wanted a job in a bookstore, I should call the store and ask for [hisname].

Manuel Royal
01-02-2013, 07:47 PM
I miss Borders, but I know one thing they did wrong (as a corporation) was their job application procedure. The online application was something like twelve pages, including one of those bullshit personality tests. By the time I got through it, I didn't want to work there anymore.

Buffysquirrel
01-02-2013, 09:50 PM
I was in our local indie bookshop just before Christmas buying a present for my father. (I got him the novelisation of The Killing in the end). A woman went to the desk with several books and the employee serving rang them up and asked her for, I think, 16.48. She acted kind of shocked, and wanted him to explain why it was so much. So he told her something about how, even with the discount, such-and-such book cost however much it was, and with the other two or three books she had, it came to what he'd said.

She said she was sorry but she was going to WH Smiths, as the books would be cheaper there. Then she left the books at the checkout and walked off. She didn't even buy one of them.

Gah.

mirandashell
01-03-2013, 04:27 PM
16.48 seems pretty cheap to me, for more than two books. Did she not add it up before she got to the till?

Some people......

Buffysquirrel
01-03-2013, 06:15 PM
16.48 seems pretty cheap to me, for more than two books. Did she not add it up before she got to the till?

Some people......

The quality of sqrlly earwigging is not guaranteed :D.