Saturday, 18 February 2012
"Where's Your Non-Fiction?" and Other Tales of Half-term Joy
To illustrate my point with a couple of choice examples from the last day or two:
YESTERDAY I found a nasty pile-up in the wake of a giddy child in the kid's section. One of our loveliest new children's books was spread-eagled haphazardly on the floor, with an upside-down red plastic chair on the top, followed by a cuddly dog perched above everything. At the very bottom of this delightful mountain I found a squashed baked bean. Nobody was eating, we're across town from the nearest chippie... HOW THE HELL DID IT GET THERE?!
I also had a gentleman inform me that he would gladly pay £2 for a hardcover railway book he'd been looking for forever, 'because that's a fair price' - but the £2.75 I was asking for a hardcover travel book was just 'not good value for money'. His friend informed him that he was embarrassing himself, paid for the book without a second thought, and dragged him out of the shop. I could have kissed her!
Right after this I had the pleasure of serving the most miserable, sullen 40-something woman, mysteriously dressed in an enormous checked lumberjack's padded shirt... and a hat shaped like a koala. Literally shaped like a koala. The kind of hat that might have been kooky on a 17-year old girl, but was just plain wrong on the grumpy specimen standing in front of me.
TODAY I've just had the stupidest woman ever in here. One of the 'non-fiction brigade' - the ones who toss the term around without having a bloody clue what it means.
Customer: Excuse me, do you actually have any non-fiction books in here?
Me: Er, yes, it's everything that's not fiction. So everything that isn't there (*gestures to fiction island*) or there (*gestures to crime and sci-fi island*).
Customer: Well, yes, I get that (*clearly doesn't*) but I'm looking for true books. You know, like survival stories, that kind of thing.
Me: You mean autobiographies?
Customer: No, not autobiographies - true survival stories!
Me: That'd come under autobiographies, in the corner there.
Customer: (walking back to her friend) *world's smallest violin voice* Nooo, nothing here.... I didn't want autobiographies...
Of course, she returned to the desk five minutes later with a nice misery memoir... that she'd found in the autobiography section... I couldn't resist: as I rang up the books I said "Next time you're looking for a survival story, you'll find it under 'Autobiographies'. In just about any bookshop." She had the good grace to look slightly embarrassed. :)
On a lighter note, a guy just bought a nice old edition of The Pickwick Papers, because he'd been thinking about trying it for a while - and a fancy bound copy would look 'more intellectual' on the family bookshelves. "Pfffft, sure!" his wife snorted, fussing with their baby's pushchair, "it'll look really intelligent next to all our Maisie Mouse books!"
Soooo, now I'm just waiting for another day to come to an end so I can go home, have a hot shower, eat a deliciously sinful plate of hash browns, fried eggs and baked beans, and go to bed... Roll on Tuesday and two glorious days off!