Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sometimes Customers

.....are fantastic.

They are adorable toddlers who follow you around babbling words you can't understand, cute little kids too afraid to ask for help in getting the books out of their reach, eager readers looking for something to keep them entertained, teachers searching for books to tempt even the most relectant readers, parents with questions about storytime, or even just normal, reasonably civil adults wanting to pick up some random or popular book they heard about.

But sometimes customers are the rudest people I have ever known - including myself, and since my temper and naturaly anti-social nature can turn me into a spectacular grump, that's pretty damn rude.

A woman came up while I was at the information desk and asked if we had the book about Hillary Clinton. Since, as anyone involved in politics or who has worked in a bookstore knows, that's rather like asking if we have the book about cooking healthy meals, I asked her which one she meant. She wasn't sure and seemed confused that there was more than one, or that I didn't automatically know that she wanted that one - or something.

I asked her if it by Hillary Clinton or by someone else, if it was about something in particular about her, could she remember the title, etc. She didn't know. Any of it.

She thought it might be recent. So I reorganized the list on the computer by most recent publication date. While I was doing this she babbling in a way that made it seem as though she was confused as to why I couldn't just take her to the book. Since it is reasonable to assume that I could take her to the section that would have all of them in it, at least, I explained that the Hillary Clinton books are actually in several different places, not just biography, since many of them are actually about Current Affairs, etc. In fact the most recent one was a Humor book called blah blah blah, would she like to look at that one?

No, it wasn't humor. I don't just, you know, know of a Hillary Clinton book? (huh!?!) No, I know of some pop....There wasn't one that just came out? I explained that the humor book was the one that just came out. No, no, I she meant were there others. No, I'm looking at the list of most recent books and that's the only one that's actually recent. There are lots more on the list though, would she like me to read the titles and see if she recognizes them?

No, she calls her boyfriend/husband/whatever that she's picking the book up for without sparing me a word or glance - except to ask me the title of the humor book again. She starts asking him questions about the book, all the while saying things like "she can only look them up by publication date or something" (what!?!) and "she isn't being very helpful" all the while gradually turning away from me. She gets mad at one point when I correct what she's telling the boyfriend/husband/whatever about the publication date thing - maybe she though I was butting in, but I was relatively polite about it ("well, actually..."), and I was really hoping the person on the other line could help, so I wanted to make sure he/she had the right information. She talks for at least half a minute more without looking or talking to me - but still standing at Information like she needs help. Eventually she just walks off, still talking on the phone, without a word or glance in my direction.

I turn to my coworker once she's out of earshot and say "some people!"

"Yeah," he says "I was about to slap her myself for you."

(To everyone saying to themselves - "that's why I like to look the books up myself!" I very much agree with you. However, if we let Ms. Rude Idiot look up her own books, she would never be able to find them herself, even if she had actual information, and would always leave the store believing that we didn't have the book she wanted, even when we did, because she would never believe that we could possibly do a better job of finding it than she could and so, unlike you, she would never ask for help. So we make her. Unfortunately, we can't make her without making everyone.)

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