Saturday, July 26, 2008

Grunt Update


You may remember reading a I post I wrote about a book signing I did a few weeks ago ( LINK .

In this post, I mentioned the book Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy, in which a friend and I each have written a chapter.

Yesterday, this friend (and a number of others) were all walking down the street and we happened to see one of the cast members walk into a bar.

As it happens, we also had a copy of BSG and Philosophy with us.

So we went inside, told this cast member how much we appreciated the show, and gave them a copy.

It was one of the best experiences of my life.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grunt at War


In the desolate outreaches of civilization, where even the bravest men fear to travel, I, alone, stand tall. Others may quiver at the mere thought of venturing past the gates, but I, alone, stay. There are few that could survive its barren loneliness, its constant threat of danger, and the ever present odor of death. But I, I alone, can claim complete ownership of this fear.

Today I worked in the music department of Booth and Noble.

As with most days in the music department of Booth and Noble, I found myself with nothing to do. No customers to help, no time to start "projects," no alphabetizing to do.

And then the pair of them walked in.

The daughter, pudgy and with a hint of cowardice, slunk behind her brazenly obese mother, who stormed up to me like a giant baguette of slander and hate.

"How do you have your CDs?" she exclaims, ejecting spittle as if my face were on fire.

"Excuse me?" I wipe.

"How do you have your CDs?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"If I wanted to find a CD, how would I look for it?"

"Oh, well, they're first organized by genre..."

She interrupted: "What. The HELL. Is Genre?"

I looked at her face: this was not a joke. "Genre is a way of organizing things by what category you'd put them in; for instance, we have "pop rock," "classical," "folk..."

"Never mind that fancy talk. I need a new CD, because some BITCH" and at this point she glares at her daughter with eyes of pure fury "decided to take and LOSE my BEST CD."

"Um...ok...I'm sorry" I say to the daughter more than to the mother, "what CD was it?"

"The Greatest Hits of Boyz II Men."

I stifle a giggle.

"Uh, yeah, that's right here," I say and hand it to her. She grabs it from me as if it was made of solid gold. I swear she would have licked it if I weren't there.

Meanwhile, the daughter has slowly wandered away to one of our listening stations. These are the kiosks where a customer can scan a CD underneath the barcode reader and listen to samples from that CD. We often have people asking us if the CDs themselves are broken if the kiosk only plays a few seconds of a track; we have to assure them that the CDs are working fine and the listening station just plays samples.

I assume the daughter was playing something by the Beastie Boys or NWA, because if this woman were my mother, I'd have issues with society as well.

The mother grabs the CD from me and waddles over to the listening station the daughter is on. Now, she is actually closer to a different listening station, and there are 25 listening stations literally within twenty feet of her. But she wanders over to her daughter's and says:

"Get the hell off this, I need to listen to my CD." Never in my life have I been so desperate to listen to a CD THAT I ALREADY KNOW.

The daughter gingerly pulls off the headphones and hands them to her mother. The mother:

"THANK you, you CD loser. I know what I'm doing."

"Mom," the daughter says, "do you want me to help you?"

"Get your hands away from this CD. I don't want you losing THIS one as well."

At this point I'm about to cry, the daughter is worn down and the mother is trying to use the listening station, and failing. Instead of scanning the CD, she's hitting the top of the listening kiosk with it.

Then, the daughter helps her and she starts to happily dance to On Bended Knee .

She pays for the CD - no, she does not have a membership card - and as they're walking out she turns to the daughter and says:

"If you lose this CD, I'll lose you."

I still don't know what this means, but if I were that daughter, I'd want to be lost.

The daughter

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Grunt from the Other Side


Yesterday I had the unique experience of being a Grunt while not actually at work.

You see, I recently published a chapter in a book (Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy), along with a friend of mine, and together we contacted the Booth and Noble at which I am employed to inquire about having a book signing. She and I were both happy as kittens to be there.

Of course, we know that this is a rather esoteric title, and the number of books signed and sold will be fewer than the number of people who saw The Love Guru, but we thought it would be fun nevertheless. How often does one get to do a book signing?

What we did not realize was that my job as a Grunt would significantly impact the people that approached us for our signatures.

We sat in our chairs and waited for the hoards of nerdos to attack.

No nerdos approached.

Instead, the man who approached our table glaced at us through eyes glazed with spirits. His shirt - ripped and moldy - hung from his body like rotting flesh from a zombie. A tiny bit of spittle sat, unmoving, from his slackened lips. He limped over to us.

My co-signer and myself smiled. "Hello."

He didn't glace at me, but concentrated solely on her. He leered at her chest and thrust his hand at her to shake. She gingerly took it.

"I live in Livingston, Massachusetts," he said after a short pause.

"Oh," she said.

"Why do you sign your book with your left hand?" he asked, "if you shake hand with your right?"

She stared at him. "I don't sign books with my left hand," she replied. "I sign them with my right."

He fingered an open bag of candy in his pants pocket slowly, and with deliberate hunger.

There was the most pregnant of pauses while she shifted uncomfortably and he leered at her.

"Massachusetts," he began, "is a good place to live. I go to the Barnes and Noble there."

"Ok," she replied. "Would you like me to sign a copy of the book for you?"

He paused and looked down at her chest again.

Then he took a piece of candy out of his pocket and slowly started to suck on it. He turned and walked away without saying a word.

Not once during this interaction did he look at, or talk to, me.

There was silence for a moment while we watched him walk away.

"So..." I said. "I guess he's not a fan of the show."

We turned to face the store, our faces held high and our spirits undaunted. There were books to sign, and we had a job to do.