Monday, April 30, 2007

Addendum to the Welcome

As I have been informed, I left out a section of the Booth and Noble workplace experience. Let me rectify this situation immediately, lest I be proclaimed an imbecile, a dolt, or a Dill Pickle.

6 The Cashwrap. You probably know it is the cash registers, or the line-that-never-ends. But we know it as, "the customer hell." Although you may think it is annoying waiting for us to finish our job ringing up the person ahead of you in line, let me just remind you of a few things that slow down the process:
A) writing checks. Hey! They give you a card! It does the same thing in 1/10 the time! USE IT. And if you're going to ask me the date -- DON'T! Know the date. And don't ask me to repeat the price so you can write it down...AGAIN. They make receipts for that task. NEXT!
B) Paying with change is not only annoying, it's also really lame. 'nuff said.
C) I do not want to chat with you about the weather. Especially if it's nice outside. ESPECIALLY IF IT'S THE START OF MY SHIFT.
D) Hey fellas? Clean out your damn wallet every once in awhile, will ya? I know it's exciting to hold on to that ticket stub for "A River Runs Through It," but did you need to bring it here?

Sorry I forgot about this important aspect of the Booth and Noble family.

Drugs, Hugs, and Janet Evanovich - Bookseller Day


Yesterday was an exciting, busy day at the Booth and Noble. For a beautiful, Sunday it was particularly busy, which is exciting for those of us in the "book biz" because it means that we have lots to do. It is also a terrible situation because it means we have lots to do and we can't always do it because we are dealing with idiotic questions.

We Grunts refer to Sunday as "the day they let the inmates out." We open at 10, and it's very slow until about noon, when Church gets out. Then we get slammed with the onslaught of the throngs of the masses. Some days I get a line two or three people deep waiting to ask their ever-so-important questions. We can always tell the Church people, because they are dressed up, they have uncomfortable-looking children with them, and they always flock to the Religious Fiction section, which is overrun with books that have pictures of dark, shadowy figures and women with bonnets on the covers.

Anyway. Sundays can be annoying, to say the least.

A gentleman comes up to the counter. He is, unusually for a customer at Booth and Noble, polite. With a hat cocked on his head and a black, button down shirt, he appears quite dapper. A thin mustache graces his upper lip, like a small pet. He looks up at me (he's quite short) and asks, demurely,

"Do you have any books about hallucinogens?"

I stop in my tracks. Maybe I'M on hallucinogens, and I'm imagining this whole thing.

"Excuse me?" I ask. "Did you say, hallucinogens?"

"Yes," he replied, "hallucinogens."

"Like mushrooms and LSD and that stuff?"


"Do you want a book about the dangers of hallucinogens?"

"No, I want a book on how to make them."

"HOW TO...I mean, How to make hallucinogens? Like, Acid?"

"Yeah, I want to make them."

And then I look at the other books he has in his hands: How to Start a Small Business and How to Make Friends and Influence People.

I look it up in the computer. I could only find a few books, and most of them were about all drugs, not just hallucinogens. I asked, "would you like a book on cannabis? We have plenty of those in the gardening section." I led him over there and sat him down. A few minutes later he was gone...and I never saw him leave. .....

A little later a woman comes up to me. She is middle aged, probably abotu 53, and a little large. Also, she is very tall and looks down at me with massively eye-shadowed eyes: "Excuse me sir," she asks, "but, do you read?"

I look at her. "Yes, yes I do read."

"Well, have you seen the movie Time Alone? [note, I don't actually remember what movie she mentioned, so I made this up]"

"I have not."

"It stars that women...she was just made a dame..."


"Judy...Douche. That's it."

"Do you mean Judy Dench?" I correct her.

"Yeah, maybe. Anyway, is there a book for that?"

I check. There is not, and I tell her so.

"Oh, that's my favorite movie. So...can you recomend a book to me? I have never read and I would like to start."

Now, I find it hard to believe that someone has NEVER READ a book. But I take this in stride.

"Have you tried Stephen King?"

"Sir, I have not read a book. I don't even know who that is."

I swallow to kill some time while I think. So I lead her over to the mystery section. "I might try something here, because these are pretty quick and pretty easy."

"I have gotten some recommendations from people to start reading. Let me know what you think," she says, unfolding a piece of paper. She begins to read: "Oscar Wilde. Thomas Pynchon. Kurt Vonne..." I cut her off.

"Those are all excellent authors," I say, "but it might be useful to work up to them. Why don't you try James Patterson?

She picks up Along Came a Spider and looks at the cover. "This looks like too much for me." She puts it down. I can't believe it -- I have just literally seen someone judge a book by its cover.

I take her one step over. "Why not try this?" I hand her a copy of Jonathan Kellerman -- mystery. She looks at it, but puts its back too. We then continue our journey until I have a brain flash.

"Here," I say, thrusting a book into her hand. "You will love this."

"This looks great!" She explains. And proudly walks off with One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. It, you see, was blue on the cover -- very calming.

Such was Sunday. Day of rest indeed...



I have decided to move this blog off of MySpace and onto Blogger. I am not sure why I am doing this, but for some reason it feels good.

Perhaps I'll get fired.

To those new to this blog, let me explain:

I work at a book store. To hide its identity, let's call it Booth and Noble.

I am what is perhaps best known as a "Book Grunt." Our motto is "uuuuuuhhh?... ::Sigh:: .....huuuuuh."

Because I work part-time (I am a full time student elsewhere), I have been a "Book Grunt"
for full on three years (I had my three year anniversary this month. No one noticed.)

There are five main "areas" at Booth and Noble that I am qualified to work. Let's now go over each of them to give a little more background:

1) Bookfloor. The most obvious. These are the Grunts that you, as customers, probably interact with most of the time. We, as Grunts, stand behind the counter, waiting for you to come up and ask your questions. Usually the questions are stupid and we laugh at you when you leave. For example, yesterday a customer came up to me while I was working at the Info desk and asked "Where in Fiction is Danielle Steel?" I was gobstopped. Where -- IN FICTION -- is Danielle Steel? It's hard to explain, for the thousandth time, that fiction is arranged alphabetically to people that somehow have managed to survive and -- even worse -- procreate. That means they've increaesed the population with morons who --let's assume they don't know fiction is arranaged alphabetically -- CAN'T SCAN SIX BOOKCASES for DANIELLE STEEL -- one of the most prolific authors at Booth and Noble. Yes, this what most Grunts deal with day in and day out. uuuuuuhhh?... ::Sigh:: .....huuuuuh."

2) Music. I am here most often, at least for the moment, either because I have an expansive knowledge of movies (movies are kept with music not because they're similar forms of mass media, but because they're equally overpriced and need a "special section"), or because they want to keep me away from the customers, most of whom I treat with scorn or derision. Music is its own world, where magic fairies fly around and create happiness for people -- and are they ruthlessly crushed by the giant foot of Corporate America. There is a special breed of customers reserved for Music -- those too idiotic to read. Nothing pains me more than to "help" a customer find "Yanni," which I have to do on a weekly basis. Needless to say, we have abotu 30 Yanni CDs, and invariably I am asked "which is your favorite?" I usually cock an eyebrow and say, "well, I find Yanni's music too active and distracting for me. I prefer a softer sound. Have you tried "silence" by the "unharmonies? uuuuuuhhh?... ::Sigh:: .....huuuuuh."

3) Cafe. Although I am not here very often, I have a feeling that's going to change. This Saturday, for instance, I will be working in Cafe. Here people go to buy cakes and coffees, and often, to sit for hours and hours and read magazines that they then put back on the shelf. I have no problem with people not buying the magazines -- Hell, if we're going to let them read them in the cafe, then sure, take advantage of that. But what I have a problem with is when I find Playboys, Penthouses, Hustlers, Maxims, FHM's, et. al, in the men's room at the end of the night. Can you believe this shit? (Literally?) How would you feel about the following situation?: you walk into the bathroom after an 8 hour shift and feel the need to use the toilet. You sit down and look around you -- one wall says something about cocks and mothers, the other says something extremely witty about bosoms -- and sitting there on the toilet paper roll is a gentleman's magazine! And it's thumbed through!'s...kinda stuck suddenly realize you have to bring it back to the back room. "uuuuuuhhh?... ::Sigh:: .....huuuuuh." (Just then, you look down and see a copy of "Sexual Massage" and decide that the Human Race is going to breed itself out of existance.)

4) Receiving. Here is the "back room," where the heart of the store pumps its magical brew into the rest of the departments. The books are delivered in giant, 40 pound boxes back here. These boxes are then opened, the contents scanned and shelved on carts. These carts are taken out to the book floor the following morning to be shelved on the real shelves out there, where most of them will sit until the day Booth and Noble closes or burns to the ground, except for Oprah's book club books, which will be bestsellers and go home to customers who will not read them, but proudly display them proclaiming to all the world that "Uh, I may have gotten my M.R.S. Degree, but at least I watch enough Television to know which books are going to be bestsellers" and they TOTALLY don't understand the inherent failure of logic in that thought -- while at the same time, we Grunts deride the Oprah books while each secretly reading them, hoping against hope that some day -- SOME DAY -- Oprah will pick a book that WE like. So that's receiving. When I work here, I usually don't have stories because I don't have to deal with customers. But I do usually have to move boxes for hours, which believe me is much less fun than it sounds.

5) Children's Department -- I rarely work in the children's department. In fact, I make it a goal of mine not even to enter the children's department. The thought of trying to find one 6 page book in the onslaught of hundreds of thousands of 6 page books make me want to vomit all over the nearest child. Plus, children run around, no one bothers to put books away (parents are so sick of putting their children's stuff away at home that they don't bother to put their stuff away at Booth and Noble, and in fact will leave extra stuff out for us to put away because THEY'RE EVIL). Children are loud and full of snot, which they leave on things that we have to touch. I was there when a kid peed in the corner of the department. I try and stay away.

So that's Booth and Noble. I try and post something after every shift I have. Occasionally, I will post here stories from my previous blog ( to make up some time. Feel free to share similar stories here as well.

If I have one goal in my life, it's to jump into a vat of jello. If I have two goals, however, the second would be to have more intelligent customers come into Booth and Noble. No, not "smart" customers, but more intelligent. Customers who understand the process of buying books, music or movies. Who understand what "alphabetical" means (and might even be able to quote most of the alphabet). Who don't pee in the corners of the store.

I am a Grunt. It is my job, and I am proud of it. uuuuuuhhh?... ::Sigh:: .....huuuuuh.