...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

but they're too busy reading to put anybody down

In addition to finding clever ways to display 187 copies of the first book in the eternally popular (somewhere) Boxcar Children series or the 49 copies (because 48 didn't seem like quite enough) of Handy Manny's Motorcycle Adventure, the majority of my days at the book store involve connecting shoppers with the perfect book for their young readers.

I routinely scan my department for shoppers who appear dazed (and occasionally injured - sorry about those books falling off the top shelf and onto your head today, lady. Sometimes, if you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. Then he's going to punch you in the face)(Oh, don't worry! The moose had a muffin, so it had the strength to knock the lady out of the way with it's mighty rack). Typically, helping shoppers involves fielding a lot of questions. "He's 8 years old and he doesn't read. What would he like?" or "I have to buy a book for my grandson, who I never see. Do you think he'd like books about the Civil War?" Occasionally, the shopper comes prepared with a detailed set of requirements. "She likes fantasy books, but we don't want her reading Harry Potter, or anything with dragons, witches, fairies, unicorns, castles, mermaids, goblins, sprites, pixies, glowing orbs capable of casting spells or anything else like that. What do you recommend?" As a matter of fact, yes. How do you feel about teenage vampires?

It sounds like a tough job, doesn't it? Oh, sure, I imagine it's not as tough as piloting fighter jets, performing brain surgery, brokering world peace, forecasting the weather, or preparing a meal my children will eat without suspecting sabotage, but as you can see, it does present some routine challenges. However, that doesn't mean you should feel like you can't handle it. Let me run you through a little training exercise I developed after helping a woman who journeyed into the children's department this afternoon. To make this experience extra fun, let's roll play, shall we? I'll play the role of 'Me,' and if you wish, you can play the part of the woman. Ready? Let's go!

Me: Hi! It looks like you have a rather long list of items you're looking for. Can I be of any help to you today?

(sidebar - Did you notice how nice I am? How costumer-focused? Yeah. Me, too. So, why do you think I only got a quarter raise at my review three weeks ago?)

(Take 2!)(or, as we say in the book biz, Chapter 2!)

Me: Hi! It looks like you have a rather long list of items you're looking for. Can I be of any help to you today?

Woman: Oh, that would be lovely! I'm looking for a variety of books to build the children's library at my church and I need books for all ages.

Me: I'd be glad to suggest some great titles! Follow me! I'll show you!

(seriously, friends. a quarter.)

Cut to the part where you see me showing the grateful shopper a variety of books, primarily those with recognizable, time-honored titles such as I'll Love You Forever, Hop on Pop, Guess How Much I Love You, Goodnight, Moon, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Olivia, etc.

Woman: These all seems like great choices! You've been tremendously helpful! What other books would you recommend?

Me: Well, my children were big fans of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom when they were younger. I really think you must include that book in your collection.

Woman: Perfect! Anything else?

Me: Yes! You absolutely MUST get Good Night, Gorilla! Children LOVE this story."

Woman: What's it about?

Me: It's a very cute story about a zoo keeper, his wife, and a mischievous little gorilla and what happens when the gorilla steals away with the zoo keeper's keys.

Woman: Oh. Hmmm. Well....I'm not sure...

Me: Is it the stealing you're worried about? Don't give it a second thought!

Woman: No, it's not that...

Me (thinking): Please don't make me say something about the gorilla crawling into bed with the zoo keeper's wife, please don't make me say...

Woman: Well, it's just that I have to be courteous and think of the members of our congregation who are vegetarians...

Me: ::blink blink::

Woman: ::blink blink::

Me: Um...

Woman: I just really don't want to offend those who choose not to eat meat.

Me: Well, I can assure you, the zookeeper doesn't fillet the gorilla and toss him on the grill after marinating him overnight in a delicious balsamic reduction.

(in maintaining your good customer service skills, say the preceding with a smile that you enhance with a lighthearted chuckle)

(plus, p.s., where do your congregants eat where things like gorilla or hyena are on the menu? Be thee not confused between 'Good night, deer' and 'good night, dear,' my children.)

Woman: So...any other suggestions?

Of course I had suggestions for her.

The Carrot Seed

There you go. Everyone's happy, and that, friends, is good customer service. Here's a quarter, I think you're ready! Can you fill my shift Thursday?


We currently have 170 paperback copies of Where The Wild Things Are in the store. Today, while suggesting books to another shopper, I placed a copy of the book in her hand and raved about what a great book it would be to share with her child, who was running around the place and was definitely not young. "Oh, that story would be far too long for him!" she responded.

The book is 10 sentences long. If it was a video game, the kid would probably play it for hours.


I try to read at least one book a week. Sometimes it takes a bit longer. Sadly, I've spent more than a month trying to get through The Time Traveler's Wife. I tend to be one who tries to finish what I start, but I'm to the point where I wish I was the one who could flit through the time and get this beast done. I also wish I could let go of my irritation about the author's love affair with commas. There are way too many misplaced commas in this story.


Do you need something fun to read? After Whit wrote about the Skulduggery Pleasant series at Dadcentric, I was all, "Oh, I must read those!" However, need I remind you my raise was just a quarter an hour? Yeah, so as a result, I am not buying them, but I am listening to them. Well, I'm listening to the first one, and strongly suggest you do, too. Sure, they're found in the young reader's section of your favorite bookstore, but they make a fun adult read, too.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes, there's vampires in the book, but thankfully, they're not glowing and angst-ridden.



Blogger Swirl Girl said...

It would have been funny if you had suggested Wicked - 'cuz there's just something so wicked about stories about witches and beastiality at church.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 1:36:00 AM  
Blogger Christina Lee said...

get outta here, church lady hahahaha!! I too had a tough time getting through Time Travelers Wife (don't know what's wrong with me). I ended skipping aorund and then going to the end--now I know what happens :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 6:48:00 AM  
Blogger Chasity said...

Grilled balsamic gorilla probably tastes like chicken.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 6:56:00 AM  
Blogger Bee said...

I haven't gotten a raise in two years. :o(

Customers are what I most fear about finding a part time job in retail. I don't have your customer service skills.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 7:15:00 AM  
Blogger Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Watched the Duggars and their 10,000 children last night. Michelle Duggar thinks saying "MY PLEASURE" is the way to go. As in, "It would be MY PLEASURE to assist you."

Thought you might want to work that into your day....might get you a $.50 raise next time!!

Hallie :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 7:25:00 AM  
Blogger Maureen@IslandRoar said...

You gotta wonder what's the deal with Church Lady that gorillas made her think of meat...
Very funny post that I can really relate to now working at the library!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 7:27:00 AM  
Blogger WILLIAM said...

Frankie Pickle and the closet of Doom. Just a recomendation.

The end of Goodnight Gorilla is like an orgy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:11:00 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

I was just reading "If I Ran the Circus" to my son last night. I definitely wouldn't recommend it to the "too long for him" lady. Seriously, it took me an hour to get through that whole book.

Although I take every opportunity to make a Dr Seuss-reading into a theatrical one-man show, so that may have taken some extra time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:32:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin McKeever said...

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was also one of my kids' favorites. I wonder ...

I always read "Summer" by PD Easton to the kids on the first and last day of the season. Something about that hay ride ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:45:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

See, I'm with Numby; I'm ALL about the Dr. Seuss (see, there's more than Beatles rattling around in my head). . . Especially On Beyond Zebra, McElligot's Pool, and If I Ran the Zoo (oddly, I don't think I've ever read If I Ran the Circus). Also Winnie the Pooh, Wind In the Willows, and the Narnia Chronicles. Which would probably mostly fit the 'fantasy' criteria one of your customers gave you. . .

Altho, yeah. . . I'm with the folks who are wondering what drove the association between 'gorilla' and 'eating meat'. 'Cuz, you know, I've never eaten gorilla. Or even monkey. Just sayin'. . .

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:52:00 AM  
Blogger justmakingourway said...

Ha! I love Goodnight, Gorilla! (William's comment made me laugh)

I need a new book to read. I've already read Time Traveler's Wife. I give it an "Eh."

A quarter, huh? That seems really wrong when you are clearly a customer service maven!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:53:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt Juicebox said...

Stop trying to read the book and just go see the movie.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 9:33:00 AM  
Anonymous TwoBusy said...

A $.25/hour raise? Sounds like someone's due for a groin-kicking.

In any case, I'm afraid your churgoing bookbuyer is going to be dismayed when she discovers that the Very Hungry Caterpillar eats a sausage, Olivia is made of pork, and the big brown hare eats the little brown hare at the end of Guess How Much I Love You.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Stopped in after seeing your name in the comments on a couple of my favorite blogs. Figured you must be at least 50% as cool as me.


I too read Whit's review of the Skullduggery books, and so I picked up the first one for my 11-year-old daughter. She has now completed the entire series. Loves them. She's also a fan of the Sisters Grimm books . . .

And how cool that you work in a bookstore. My absolute favorite place to hang out is in a bookstore.

Great story . . . I'll be around.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

What they don't eat gorilla?

We love Skippy John Jones. It is about beans, dogs, and cats.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Yes, exactly like that except at the end she says "I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to order these from Amazon."

file under: I can't believe I haven't done people physical harm at work.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recommendations. The fact that the vampires don't glow is enough for me.

I had no idea that vegetarians don't like reading books about gorillas. Wait, aren't gorillas essentially vegetarians? Wouldn't the church going vegetarians then have something in common with the gorilla?

It took me so long to read The Time Traveler's Wife that I nearly had to start it over which would be no fun. I fought through it, though.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To funny!
My husband from the Cheek led me here and I will be back!
Funny thing - our kids never really enjoyed Goodnight Gorilla. But they absolutely adore Seuss! Another suggestion for your church lady - Tops and Bottoms.

Speaking of Where the Wild Things Are. I was standing at the bookstore minding my own business near the display of these books when a young lady and her friend walked up. She starts in on how this is such a great new book and she can't wait to read it to her class at school! I had to step in and say something! When I told her that the book was older than I was, she turned 4 shades of red and said "I just assumed. . . ." And I must say I KNOW kids like the one that would have trouble making it through Where the Wild Things Are. Thankfully none are mine!

And one more thing - It's perfectly okay to put a book down an move on to something else! Not all books we THINK will spark our interest actually do.

I will be back!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Did you say onehundredseventy copies?! And that's just ONE store?
HolyHell, we ARE a bunch of "consumers" aren't we!!!
And that lady's worried about offending *vegetarians*?!?!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Slyde said...

ugh! dont get me started on Handy Manny! my son was obsessed with it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Brian o vretanos said...

Most of the traditional children's stories and rhymes are really violent and gory. Helena used to love hearing Where The Wild Things Are almost as much as I liked reading it.

I'm currently 2/3 of the way through Herodotus and am beginning to wonder whether I should give up. After a while you begin to stop caring about which king invaded which city and did what unspeakable things to the losers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 1:28:00 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

Um..the Twilight vamps don't glow..they glitter. So there.

What on earth would have made church lady think of meat? Does she think the man in the book gets pissed off enough to kill the ape? Weird.

And the commas? Sounds like someone's editor was lazy. Or they just really like commas. Rather like I am fond of "?!"s and my........s

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 7:44:00 PM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

Your stories make me yearn to return to my retail roots, just for a day, so that I too can laugh at the general public :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:42:00 PM  
Anonymous DCUrbanDad said...

I would put you in charge of the whole place. You rock!

Also, can you suggest a book for me? Serious. I need something new to read.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 9:41:00 PM  
Blogger Stone Fox said...

a quarter raise? really? wow. Hey Big Spender! i'm gonna go ahead and call bullshit here, as i have seen the prices of new books, and frankly, they're outrageous. your boss could definitely afford to give you a much better raise.

also, at the risk of being very unpopular: i hate that stupid Goodnight, Moon book. HATE IT.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Carolyn...Online said...

So I was trying to read this. And I saw the word vampires which always makes me want to continue. But ugh! my headache and my eye and ugh! the font is too small. I can't read it. But I'm here. And I saw the word vampire.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 8:03:00 AM  
Blogger cIII said...

I'll Love You Forever.....

Possibly the creepiest chilren's book ever penned. I mean seriously, that guy is 22 years old and there you are driving around town, ladder strapped to the roof of you car, fiendishly plotting a B&E.

All I can say is her son is going to need a Pile of therapy.

Also, gorillas are delicious. You have to brine them for 24 hrs, and that's kind of a drag, but, delicious none the less.

Now, where's my Quarter?

Thursday, October 22, 2009 8:47:00 AM  
Blogger AiringMyLaundry said...

You deal with some interesting people there...

I also have a love affair with commas. I wish I could stop..

Thursday, October 22, 2009 5:41:00 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

It's great to work in a book store I supposed, to be around the books, see what's new coming in. But sometimes those customers can be trying. It's the same as working in a library. I speak from experience! LOL! And I'd get the same kind of raises. They'd expect us to rejoice over a quarter raise. Yep. Watch me do a cartwheel folks!

Thursday, October 22, 2009 7:47:00 PM  
Blogger Divine Chaos said...

I'd love to work in a book store. Well, not so much work .. 'cause I'd be busy reading .. and asking people to fetch me a blankie, a comfy chair, and a cuppa tea ..

ok, so, I'd like to live in a book store and just use the customers as my personal servants while I read all day.

and as far as the vampire thing goes ... Edward Cullen doesn't drink human blood, he -can- move superfast and sparkles in the sun. that boy is not a vampire .. he's a fairy. an angsty fairy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 8:44:00 PM  
Blogger The Savage said...

You would do wonderfully working at our tool sales...

Thursday, October 22, 2009 9:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Bejewell said...

The only thing NOT funny about this story is the quarter raise you got. What. The. Fuck. Is this fucking 1987?

Thursday, October 22, 2009 9:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

and that is why I don't work in sales. I would be spending my day trying to work out new and ingenious ways to mess with their heads.

I bow to you.

Friday, October 23, 2009 6:37:00 AM  
Blogger That girl from Shallotte said...

I seriously clapped with glee while reading this. You are one of the funniest people around these parts!

Saturday, October 24, 2009 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Lainey-Paney said...

One book a week?
Oh, how I envy you.
My New Year's goal for 2009 was to read 1 book per month.
I may be one title behind for meeting my goal....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 9:01:00 AM  
Blogger lime said...

oh i so desperately want your job in a book store or a library. kids +books + me connecting the two= heaven. i realize you have your days, really i do. but my dream is definitely NOT to be a chiro assistant.

as for the church lady....oh honey, if you and i were together it would have been dnagerous. whatever yo usuccessfully stifled woudl have come out of my mouth. too funny!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I had no idea a wordless book about a gorilla would offend vegetarians.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009 9:40:00 PM  

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