How to be an Asshole in a Bookstore

Saturday, September 20, 2008

1) Reshelve books. Be creative! Because after 9 hours on my feet, there's nothing I'd rather do after close than go on an exciting scavenger hunt for missing books. (Special exemption for the person who shelved the Kama Sutra in "martial arts", because that made me laugh)

2) Allow your children to run wild. I myself have a toddler, so I don't expect children to be seen and not heard. However... screaming, pulling books off shelves, and throwing food are over the line. Its a bookstore, not Gymboree.

3) Hit on the staff. The bigger the age difference, the better! True story: a co-worker of mine received a note (!) from a married man (!!) while working in the children's section, wanting to meet her somewhere "private". Ew, ew, ew.

4) Yell at the staff. Dude, I'm wearing an apron. And a nametag. Do I look like I'm in a position to make decisions about the amount of parking spaces in front of the building, to open a new store closer to you, or determine whether we should have a Biography section? Also, if you want access to every book ever written, get yerself onto Amazon. "Out of print" doesn't mean "its in the back in our magical stockroom of old books".

5) Make your payment options as complicated as possible. Bonus points if you can manage to use cash, credit, and a check for the same transaction!

6) Return books that were new when I was in middle school. Or books from another store. Or stolen merchandise.

7) Start a request with "I don't really remember anything about this book, but..."

8) Don't read any of the fine print on your coupon. Complain when I explain it to you.

Fellow retail veterans, feel free to add to the list!

Posted by oballard at 12:50 PM  
sweetpea85 said...

all totally true. I'll add:
trying to force us to ring out your purchases as we're evacuating from an honest to goodness *fire* in the store. No, I'm not going to risk my life so that you can buy your stack of home decorating magazines or your 15 manga graphic novels. effing idiots.

also I really loved the people that would stuff dirty magazines into the car section...or the hunting section..or just give up and leave them in a folded-cornered heap outside of the bathroom.


September 20, 2008 at 1:39 PM  
voreblog said...

This is a pretty comprehensive list. The only ones I'd add are:

1) Share your cell phone conversation with the entire store.

2) Do the crossword puzzle in a newspaper you didn't pay for and then leave it in a pile by the erotica section. As Suzanne Williams said, "Just have the common decency to steal the newspaper so we don't have to clean it up."

3) Explain to the bookseller that he is personally responsible for stocking "foul, totally inappropriate crap" like Get Your War On by David Rees and that he is single-handedly turning the United States of America into a walking Gomorrah.

4) Exercise your free speech by turning over the political books you disagree with.

5) Use a toilet brush to try and plunge your clogged toilet rather than the plunger sitting right next to it.

September 20, 2008 at 2:52 PM  
Stella B said...

@voreblog - #3 reminds me of another one: choose a side in the Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays war. The more militant the better!

Complain that the fact that I did/didn't wish you a merry Christmas shows my complete disrespect of your non-Christian faith or culture/complete disrespect of our nation's Christian heritage.

September 20, 2008 at 5:42 PM  

Perfection! Here's my bookstore quirks:

- Please just spend the $1.99 on this week's issue of US Weekly or Life & Style. In fact, splurge and drop the money on the People, too. Seriously.

- It's a bargain book. It rotates out of the store routinely. Please don't keep coming back in, hunting me down, and acting indignant when you find me stocking merchandise elsewhere, then yelling when I didn't have the book for you. Again.

- Just because 'the website says you have it' doesn't mean we have it here at the LOCAL store.

- Know that it's OK to say you don't want me to order something for you now. I can't fathom that this many people "...don't live here, anyway."

- Seriously. Please. I beg you. Pick up after yourself. I do not wish to touch your nasty napkins or your half-empty coffee drinks. I especially don't like to pick them up when I find them shoved in the stacks.

- Double seriously. Extra please. I truly do beg you. Pick up after your kids. In fact, if they're old enough to help, make them help you. Do not leave piles, stacks, broken merchandise, and trash all over the children's department, and then sneak out. Even worse, don't announce loudly that "There's someone over there to take care of all this, anyway."

- I know it can be inconvenient, but we have bathrooms with changing stations in them for a reason. Please don't change your kid's diaper on the floor or chairs in the children's department, and please don' then toss said diaper into the trash can in that department. There are some customers we just don't wish to remember all day.

- Tell me you're looking for "A picture book. Just a picture book," and then stand there looking at me like I'm an idiot when I'm trying to explain to you the, briefly and politely, the scope your request entails.

- Do not stalk the staff.

- Come in when we open, grab your stack of science fiction paperbacks, then camp out all day, breaking bindings and taking naps, then leave 9 hours later with your mess all over the place.

- Don't turn over the books you don't agree with when they are on a display. You may not agree with the rhetoric, but we don't set it. We just do as we're told. Same goes with scattering titles on a religion-themed display table as you gripe about "God this" and "God that".

- Don't run in 2 minutes before closing and head immediately to the bathroom.

- Make your final purchase when the closing announcement is made, or shortly thereafter. If it's 15-20 minutes after we've closed, and you're still mingling around the bargain books, giggling at your boyfriend, note that the reason we're standing around the entrance, waiting for you to leave so we can face the place and get out, isn't to give you a parade. It's to gripe silently at your stellar listening skills.

Heh...yeah...perhaps a few gripes!

September 20, 2008 at 10:37 PM  
Maura said...

Wow. There go all my illusions about working in a bookstore!

I've seen a lot of those behaviors and they always leave me shaking my head, but I can only imagine how it is to deal with them day after day.

When is "National Be Nice To Your Bookseller Day" this year? Because I will sign up for that one. :-)

September 21, 2008 at 2:10 AM  
Stella B said...

FADKOG - I totally agree with every item on your list! Just because I'm wearing an apron does not make me your personal maid, peoples. Damn.

Maura - working in a bookstore rocks, its just (most) customers that ruin it for us!

Sweetpea - I also wonder about the people who shop during snow storms, when the police are begging people to only drive for emergencies. I mean, seriously? Us Weekly? Is an emergency?

September 21, 2008 at 8:28 PM  
Pasifik said...

Agree with you, 100%.

Keep posting,


September 22, 2008 at 7:44 PM  
Melissa said...

So true, so true. Never worked in a bookstore, but I did work retail, so I can relate.

This is the part where I'm supposed to tell you where I found you and I get all embarrassed like and say that I was going through old comments on my blog and saw that you had visited in JULY and I don't remember going back. Which is unfortunate, because you are cool. :) But now I"ve "marked" you and I'll be back!

September 23, 2008 at 10:25 AM  

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