Monday, December 31, 2007

Odd Lad, Syne?


A long time ago, when I first decided to document the goings-on of the Grunts at Booth and Noble, I made three promises to myself.

"Self," I said, "just because God, or Google, or Godoogle, has given you the power to put this stuff up online, does not give you the right to mock those less fortunate that you."

"Yes, but self," I replied, doesn't that mean I will have no fodder? Nothing to write about?"

"True, true, self," I responded. But perhaps we should lay down some ground rules.

And so were set in digital stone the following rules:
1) Booth and Noble would provide an equal opportunity mocking. No one is spared, therefore everyone is equal. Stupidity is not dependent on age, sex, gender, size, race, orientation, or hair color. However, there would be NO jokes about the Eskimo people. Not because they're offensive, but really, Eskimo's don't read the Internet too much. They're not too "Inuit."

2) That being said, I would refrain from deliberately mocking the following groups of people: children, the mentally handicapped people that come into the store and dance and sing, and the managerial staff.

And on this, the eve of a new year, I propose to break one of those rules.

So this kid walks into the music department yesterday. He's probably about thirteen or fourteen - that age when they know they are smarter than you. They also know that they are shorter than you, so they usually keep their mouths shut.

This boy did not. He brazenly walks over to me behind the counter. He hands me a DVD. He stands there, eying me like a bear mama eying those people between her and her cubs. I say, "did you want to get this?" And he still looks at me, the thick glasses over his eyes barely covering the scorn.

"Is this the movie?" he asks.

"Well, it's A movie," I say.

"But is is THE movie?"

"THE movie what? What movie are you looking for?"

"Is is The Golden Compass?"

"No, that's just a documentary about the book, and about the author Philip Pullman."

"What book?"

"The book that the movie was based on."

"I want the movie. There's no book."

"There is too a book - it's over here."

"No, that's based on the movie." He changes subject: "when does the movie come out on DVD?"

"Well," I reply, "that's hard to say. It's still in theatres, so they haven't told us when the DVD is due out."

"That's NOT TRUE!"

I am taken about at his loud voice. "Um...yes, it is."

"No, I saw on TV that they had released it on DVD."

"Well, what date did the 'TV' tell you?"

He shuffled, still scornful. "I don't remember."

"Ah." I look at him. He looks at me. I tilt my head, as if to say "tsk, tsk."

He opens his mouth again: "Do you know what movie it is where an alien comes back in time and takes over a person's body?"

I stop and think. "Are you thinking of Invasion of the Body Snatchers?"

"NO! This is part of a series of movies. An ALIEN, from the FUTURE." He speaks as though I'm either deaf, or foreign.

"Do you have any more information?"

"He smokes."

Ah! Of course! The smoking alien/human movie! Well, I am perplexed, so I start thinking:

"Ah!" I think I've got it. "Is it Terminator?"

"NO! God. It. Is. Not. TERMINATOR! He was a ROBOT in that. WHY WOULD A ROBOT SMOKE?" He laughs hysterically.

"But...but he..." Ok, I'm not getting into this argument with a boy whose voice is breaking. So I think...

"Is it The Matrix?"

"Oh. My. GOD! What do you know movies? It's a really old movie. Like, 1980 or something."

I'm about ready to kick this kid in the face. But instead I think, well, we've all been trying hard to think of things in the past, maybe he just needs help.

So I say, "just to clarify. There is an alien who goes back in time, inhabits a human, and smokes."

"No." He sighs. "The alien doesn't smoke. Why would an alien smoke? That would just be stupid." He straightens his glasses. "The alien has a person with him. An old man. He has an old man with him."

"So the alien has an old man who smokes with him?"


I am at a loss, so I do the next best thing:

"Maybe we can browse through the science-fiction section, and see if we can find it."

The kid turns to me, a look of pure disgust on his face. "What," he asks, "is 'science-fiction'?"

I sigh and turn around. The day had just begun.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Is a Time for Loving


I love the Christmas Season. People are always in such good moods. Let me give you a few examples for my most recent day at Booth and Noble. Happy Holidays!

1) We've just opened the store, so that means all those crazy people who line up outside in the snow and cold are let into the store. In a sane world, those people would be barred from entering; in Booth and Noble land, however, they are welcomed with open arms.

I'm standing at the information kiosk at the center of the store and I hear a loud voice yell from the front door:


I thought we were under attack.

Under attack from venture capitalist pirates.

But the voice kept coming closer.


Finally I looked up from behind the desk, where I had been cowering with a single cutlass and checkbook to protect me. A large woman waddled towards me with opened arms.


I found it for her and put it in her hands. Without a second's thought, she said, "Can I leave it here?" and dropped it on the desk in front of me.

She never came back to get it.

2. Later that day, an creaky old woman came up to me.

"Do you have A History of the Christmas Ornament from 1920 to 1930, third edition, by Richard St. Germaine?"

I looked it up on the computer, and for once, here was a customer who had the title of the book right. Unfortunately, we didn't have it in the store.

"Sorry Ma'am," I said, a pinched smile on my face, but we don't have any in the store."

"That is impossible." She looked at me like I had just told her that I dropped a cabinet on her cat...twice. She waited.

"Well, Ma'am, we can go check on the shelf, but it would be a fruitless effort. The computer says we don't have any." I gesture at the monitor in front of me.

"Let's do that then," she says, talking slowly to me as if I were one of her nasty, horrible children.

We walk over to the shelf, and lo and behold it is not there. I turn to her to explain that it wasn't there and she preempts me by saying:

"My nephew called the Barnes and Noble in Portland, Oregon and THEY have it. Why don't you?"

Sometimes, I just want to drop a book on someone's head.

"Ma'am," I carefully explain, talking slowly as if she were one of her nasty, horrible children, we are different stores. We have different books in each Booth and Noble."

Needless to say, she turned with a huff and left.

I return to the information kiosk, about ready to punch a small girl in the face. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but another obese woman.

"Where are your teen books?" she snarfs at me.

"Actually, they're right behind you," I say, gesturing to the large shelf labeled "Teen." She walks over there and stops.

"Are these the teen books?"

"Yes, they are."

She browses for awhile in the "B's"

Then turns to me.

"How much is this?" She holds up a paperback book. I walk over to her, turn the book over in her hand, and point to the price pictured on the cover. "It's 7.95."

She thinks for a moment. I can tell, because I can smell burning.

"What about this one?" she says, and HANDS ME A DIFFERENT COPY OF THE SAME BOOK.

"That would be the same price, ma'am."

"Oh." She stops and moves over to the "H" shelf.

"Are these also teen books?" she asks.

"Yes," I respond through gritted teeth.

"How do you know?"

"Because there is a large sign right there that says 'teen'."

"Oh." She goes back to browsing.

Meanwhile, I head to the breakroom for a drink.

(Side note)
Booth and Noble central insists that we play Christmas music over our loudspeakers. As someone with a rather finally tuned sense of "taste," I am unhappy with this, but put up with it because, as a business, it is their right to play whatever music they wish.

However, as a rule, shouldn't Booth and Noble include some Hanukkah music? Some Kwanzaa music? What about non-religious music? If I have to hear about the baby Jesus saving the world one more time, I will not be pleased.

Also, one of the CDs they make us play is the new Josh "I can get as much nonagenarian ass as I want" Groban CD, which includes a voice that makes me want to drink wine until I puke. This comment is simply about how much I dislike that CD.

Happy Holidays, everyone!