Tuesday, March 29, 2011

But Baby It's Cold Outside…

I currently live in Texas. In Texas we are conditioned to deal with one type of weather- hot and dry. Anything else tends to throw us for a loop. Especially snow and ice. We cannot, as a general rule, drive well in cold conditions. I had days off of school because of a CHANCE of snow.* I tell you all of this to give you some background on the insanity of the people I am about to rage about.

A few weeks ago we had a week of incredibly cold, icy, snowy weather. Schools shut down, the government shut down, mail was not delivered, trash was not picked up. The roads were literally deadly. The used book store I currently work at actually closed down on the first day of the great ice storm of '11. The second day was still dangerous, but we decided to open for a shortened day due to the number of complaints we got the day we closed. (There were more than 20 angry messages on our answering machine.) That's right folks, people were mad that they couldn't risk their lives to come buy a used Nora Roberts book.
In that spirit the few stalwart employees who lived close enough to the store to make it in kept a list of things people were willing to risk car wrecks, injury or death to come to our store and purchase.
So here it is. Things people HAD to have, despite the personal danger involved:
  • Two Nicholas Sparks books (This woman called twice to make sure we were holding these for her. She actually tried to come in the day we were closed.)
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Eat Right 4 Your Type diet book
  • Two Kevin Trudeau books (It's always a good time to support a convicted fraud!)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • a GED test guide
  • 7 - $1 romance novels
  • a 2007 issue of Architectural Digest
  • the DVDs Cocktail, SWAT, 21, and Apollo 13
And- for the ultimate idiot crown- seven people came in just to browse.

I watched people skid across the parking lot in their cars, fall down while walking in to the store, and bring their babies out in 20 degree weather to shop for the sake of shopping. It's things like this that make me truly concerned for humanity. 

 I hope watching The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was worth it, jag.

* The first time it snowed when I was in college in New York was a bit of a culture shock. I assumed class would be cancelled because of the several inches of snow. My northern born roommates laughed at me as I realized I would just have to walk my happy ass to class through the snow. I then learned the practical application of cute winter boots.

BookWench is currently reading Catherine of Aragon by Giles Tremlett

Monday, March 21, 2011

Unless It's Clarke or Miller….

.the book you're looking for does not have an Arthur.* It has an author. See how these words are spelled differently? They are also pronounced differently. This is one of those daily occurrences that I wish I could overlook, but at some point this mispronunciation became like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. It's not a regional affectation because I've heard it at every bookstore in the country I've worked at. It transcends any sort of pattern or stereotype or group of people. I have even heard some of my co-workers say it. (Not the good ones. The ones who should clearly not be working in book retail, as the give the rest of us a bad name.)

So, as a public service I would ask everyone reading to be vigilant and don't be afraid to correct people as they continually butcher this poor, defenseless word. Say it with me now – AUTHOR. Awe-thor. Not Arthur. Unless you need Death of a Salesman.

*Other things with an Arthur – Sir Conan Doyle, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the kids books with the cute aardvark, the mythical English king.....the list goes on.

BookWench is re-reading Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde so she can refresh her brain before reading One of Our Thursdays Is Missing.

Sorry this one was short, my muse went out for coffee and cigarettes and has yet to come back….

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Like Rain on Your Wedding Day

No, Alanis, it's not ironic...it's karma.

If you are planning an outdoor wedding (or really any type of wedding) at any point in your life the next post may be helpful to your eventual success. Forget the meteorologists, or the fates or the weather gods, the person you need to show respect to is the bookstore clerk at the store where you're planning your wedding.

I don't know exactly when this phenomenon started, but in most of my time in BookWorld the table in the local bookstore is the preferred place to do all wedding planning. I do understand, there's easy access to wedding magazines, books, coffee, all the important tools to make your special day truly magical. However: planning brides have to rank in my Top 5 most hated customer groups. I realize the bride is the most important person in the world on your actual wedding day, at the wedding, and generally only to the people who love you. This super-specialness does not apply at the bookstore. (Unless you're getting married at the bookstore, which I saw on an episode of TLC's A Wedding Story. True fact.)
So brides-to-be, do you want to rack up some bonus karma points to avoid floods, fires, food poisoning and family brawls on your special day? Then follow these few simple hints:
1.    If you want to spend time in a bookstore's cafe to plan your wedding order more than one cup of coffee, especially if you're going to be there for eight hours. (Yes, I've seen people sit there for eight hours, they may have stayed longer, but after eight hours I left.)
2.   When you have removed one copy of every wedding magazine and book from the bookstore shelves and looked through them, buy something. I know those magazines are expensive, but if you're planning to drop $2,000-$20,000 on a dress you'll wear once you can shell out the $7 for the magazine you found it in. Or, buy a book not related to weddings. Maybe something for your fiance. Consider it rent for the wear and tear to merchandise
   2a) If you have ripped, folded, spilled coffee on or put post it notes in a book – congratulations! It's now your book. Go pay for it.
   2b) No, we cannot “just copy this one page” for you. Buy the book.

3)    There's a magical place in almost every city and town called a library. It's designed to be a place where you can stay for hours and look at books and magazines, and then you can check out the books and take them home FOR FREE! They don't allow coffee or talking, but you can run in, grab books, and take them to a coffee shop or your house to do those things.

4)    Don't move the furniture. If you have gathered together so many books, or all 20 of your bridesmaids to help in this planning session, you need to pare down to what can comfortably fit at one table. If this is impossible, then -surprise, surprise- buy the books you need, get the books from the library, and find a space that can accommodate you.

5)    Put the books back where you found them. You found the wedding section once, you can do it again. If you can't, clean up your mess, find a nearby employee and say the following sentence “I'm really, really sorry, but I can't be bothered to put these back where I found them. Could you do it?” That's right, I appreciate your honesty more than your lying condescension. So if you don't want to clean up you have to eat crow and admit you're selfish and lazy.

Following these rules should ensure that your local booksellers won't be petitioning the Patron Saint of Beaten Down Retail Workers to help in bringing about the annihilation of your wedding day. Cleaning up the massive piles of books and trash left heaped on the tables gives us plenty of time to entreat an entire pantheon of various religious figures to add a mystical dash of chaos to your wedding.

BookWench is still reading Allison Hewitt is Trapped, but I did take a break to read Volumes 6-8 of Preacher by Garth Ennis.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Quote of the Week

As you read this know that the customer in question is about 11 years old. That being said, my co-worker and I really hope she wasn't actually stoned out of her mind, which is how she came across during this next exchange. (That may be unfair, as I have had more lucid conversations with people high on E.)

Customer: I need to read this book I think I read last summer. I don't know what the title is but the cover has a picture of a slave boy and I think the author's name has an 'I.'
BookWench: Do you know what it's about? Or any of the words in the title?
Customer: I don't know. I've been asleep.

BookWench is currently reading Alison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux

Monday, March 7, 2011

Things I'm Uppity About

Occasionally annoying things occur in BookWorld that are universally annoying in any form of human interaction. In order to make life better for all of my brethren working in any retail I'm writing a rulebook for basic, polite customer behavior. You can all be on the lookout for violations of the rules and shame people who break them in your presence. (Unless you are on the clock at the place you work, then you'll get in trouble.) If we all band together and demand a certain level of courtesy from our fellow travelers in this journey of life the world may just be a better place.

And after that little burst of crazy, I present BookWench's Retail Law #1:

If you want to talk to a sales clerk, that better be the only thing you're doing with your mouth.

As a child my mother impressed upon me the importance of not talking with my mouth full. This rule applies to places that aren't the dinner table. If you are talking with another human being this rule needs to be adhered to. (I don't care what you do when you're talking to robots, but phone robots probably don't understand you with a full mouth either.) At various times I have had people talk to me while actively using a toothpick, eating an apple (the core of which they then left on the counter, but that's another post), smacking on the world's largest wad of grape gum, and, on different occasions, eating ice cream cones, an eggroll, and french fries.
Seriously people, I may be a sales clerk, but I'm still a person. I don't want to watch you eat, or be sprayed by bits of what you're eating/ picking out of your teeth, I really don't get paid enough to deal with that. Put down the food, throw away the toothpick and the gum, then we can talk. Until then I'm going to either ignore you or plot several ways to kill you with that f&*^ing toothpick.

Thanks to my wonderful younger sibling for the awesome title! 

Book Wench is currently reading People Are Unappealing by Sara Barron

An Update:  The day after I posted this I rang up a customer with one of those toothpicks with a tiny toothbrush on one end.  So not only was she spitting at me while trying to talk around a toothpick, but I could still see all the chunks of food stuck in the toothbrush end.  Why? Just…why?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Quotes of the Week

For this Saturday edition of BookWench we'll take a look at some of the funny/ horrifying things my co-workers and I have heard in BookWorld. I promise that all quotes featured here are real, un-adulterated things people have said in a bookstore.
Warning: If you believe the brilliant Lewis Black's theory of what causes aneurisms you may not want to think about any of these quotes for too long. (This is the best link I could find, sorry about the commercial.  Trust me it's worth it.)

That guy is like the American Indiana Jones.”

Do you have Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by William Shakespeare?”

Do you have a book called The Farm Animals by George Orvile?”

How can you call yourself booksellers if you don't know who Tom Ford is?”
(Author's note: Tom Ford is a fashion designer. His name is on one book, a giant coffee table book with photos of his designs. Tom Sawyer we are all well aware of, but Tom Ford, not all of us know of his apparently massive impact on the literary world. Especially since most of my coworkers are jeans and tshirt wearing BOOK nerds.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BookWench: Secret Origins

 “This was the most unkindest cut of all.”

The following is the brief, but harrowing, tale of my worst customer moment in BookWorld. The one question where I walked away and refused to help, sending a co-worker to find the book in my place. This may be the moment when I turned permanently to the dark side. Before I get to the tale, it requires some background about BookWench the person.

I love Shakespeare. As mentioned in the opening post, I have a line of his tattooed on my body, because it's a love I know I won't be ashamed of or abandon. (Unlike most of my relationships) My parents started taking me to local Shakespeare in the Park productions when I was five. I own seven copies of the Complete Works. Shakespeare has his own bookcase in my bedroom. Not shelf, case, five shelves. Are you starting to catch on to my crazy devotion to the Bard?

Therefore questions concerning Shakespeare are treacherous waters for the unwitting customer. I often think my co-workers point me out to the people asking stupid Shakespeare questions just to see what color my face will turn. Most of us in BookWorld who truly love books have a topic/ author/title like this, so a question that would only mildly annoy me would send a co-worker into the whimpering fetal position. (We have a special place in the back room just for that.)

With that firmly in your brains, here is the recreation of the question that sent me over the dark abyss, never to return:

It is lovely summer day in Texas, and BookGirl is standing at the information desk, it is her first summer in BookWorld and she has hope in her heart, two years of college completed and a job she likes. Enter another college-aged girl.

BookGirl: Hello. How may I help you?
CustomerGirl: I need a copy of this book for school.
BookGirl: Alright, what's the book?
CustomerGirl: Umm, it's called something like Romeo and Juliet. I think it's by some guy named Shakespeare. Did he write plays?
BookGirl's brain cannot process the stupidity of the question presented her and she slowly turns and walks away from the customer. She sends the closest of her co-workers to help the offending moron. As she walks silently away, her brain finally gives up trying to understand a world in which a person can make it through high school with no knowledge of Shakespeare's existence. In that moment BookGirl stops, sits down on a stool and puts her head between her legs. In a few moments she raises her head, there is a new, hardened look in her eyes, and a firm set in her shoulders. Thus Book Girl is no more, and in her place BookWench rises. Literary idiots, beware….

BookWench is reading Why We Read What We Read by Lisa Adams and John Heath