Another bookstore tale, folks. Depending on how you feel about them I either need to say “I’m sorry” or “You’re welcome.”
Today’s story is about strangers. Customers that come into my little bookstore are strangers. They are supposed to come in, buy books, and get on with their lives. The only interaction I should be forced to have with them should be limited to “No, we don’t sell Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Books about blah, blah, blah are this way,” and “Here’s your receipt, have a nice day.” Even the “have a nice day” part is a stretch for me because I don’t like saying things I don’t mean. Therefore, since I really don’t care about their day, I’d rather say something like “Here’s your receipt, now I can get back to writing.”
But alas, these forced and fleeting convos don’t irk me nearly as much as the customers who come in and feel the need to tell me their life stories. 99.989% of the time I don’t care. One lady engaged me in discussion about her upcoming trip to Israel. That ONE LADY held my interest and didn’t cause my eyes to glaze over. Happy travels One Lady. Bring me back some matza balls.
Then, there was this other lady. Whoa. The setting: late morning at the bookstore with my male co-worker. A lady walks up and ruins my life for the next hour. Enjoy!
Other Lady: Do you have animation books?
Me: Books on animation? Kind of. The back shelf has a few how books on how to draw comics and there are a few on illustration to the right. Actual animation, though not really.
Other Lady: No, like animation.
Me: *Blank Stare*
Male Co-worker: You mean anime?
Other Lady: Yeah, anime.
Me: Okay, that’s right back here, follow me.
Other Lady: Girl, I was flirtin’. What you doin’?
Me: Umm, sorry for doing my job. (For one, either her “flirtin'” skills blew chunks or I’m clueless. But honestly, her hair was uncombed, she was wearing hospital scrubs stained with what appeared to be blood, and she looked/was about five months pregnant. In my opinion, she was in no condition to flirt, but whatever.)
Other Lady: Oh this is great. He reads Hack (sp?), but this looks good, too. It’s for my son. He’s such a bright boy, but he doesn’t read. But he’ll read this. As long as he reads something I guess. I should call him and see if I can catch him. He’s at his dad’s for the weekend. Heaven forbid I should interrupt on his weekend…
Me: *Watching her dial. I go to walk away, she signals me to stay. I stand their for ten minutes while she talks to her baby daddy, all the while gesturing to me like we’re two girlfriends having a laugh at his expense. I eventually walk away successfully. Other Lady follows me when she gets off the phone.*
Other Lady: This place is great. So many books. I love to read. It’s ’cause of my family. My grandfather especially. His way of showing you love was telling you to read a book. So my mother would do [blah, blah, blah] and he would tell her to read a book. Me and my brother would say [blah, blah, blah] and he would tell us to go read a book. He would stand just like this, with his hands behind his back, and tell us to read a book. My mom still talks about it. My mom would love you. I have to come back with her. This way she can pay. As long as I drive, she’ll buy everything. You know what I mean? Because she’s….
This went on for almost an hour. I would walk away, pretending to be doing something, maybe offer a fake laugh here and there. She would follow me, still telling me about her whole life. And all I could think was “STRANGER DANGER!” Then I zoned out and went to my happy place. That must’ve worked because I don’t remember her buying anything or leaving. “Grrreat Success!” (*In my Borat voice)
By the way, by “went to my happy place,” I mean I hid in the storeroom and worked on my writing.