Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grunt Too Much?


I've found an interesting phenomenon at Booth and Noble as of late:

it has been incredibly quiet.

I don't know if it's because a giant, new Booth and Noble moved in just a few minutes drive away - and people seem to like to drive an extra 30 minutes in order to enjoy a greater selection of books that they won't - or can't - actually read.

Perhaps it's because of the recent downturn in the economy, and people no longer wish to buy books.

(Actually, since most of our customers use Booth and Noble like a library/prostitute, this probably isn't the reason).

Maybe it's because people can no longer read. It would certainly explain why I have to tell people that the large sign that says "RESTROOM" is actually a "RESTROOM."

Whatever the reason, I do think that there are fewer people hauling their bulk around Booth and Noble, and although in theory this doesn't sound bad, in actuality it is quite disturbing.

Because the ones who do flop around the store and the determined, the needy, the horrific - the unwashed masses.

For instance, the other day in Booth and Noble's music department, an unwashed comes up to me. He says, "do you have any CDs of rain?"

I try to not stare at his tooth.

His one tooth.

"Rain? Sure, we have some sound effects CDs."

Then he starts: You know how in Return to Oz, the movie with the scary Wheelies, Tick-Tock the robot gets wound up and then moves in hyperspeed for awhile, until he settles down? This is what Unwashed did. He just started talking faster...and faster...and faster...

"You know why I want this CD?" [no pause for me to answer] "I've been listening to ocean sounds back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and I found that I CAN'T SLEEP THROUGH IT anymore." [oh yeah, and his voice modulates up and down, louder and softer too]. "So I thought I'd get some rain sounds because it reminds me of Nam and when I was there I could sleep through the rain no problem so I'm sure I can sleep through this..." [meanwhile, I've given him the CD and he has indicated that we should return to the cash register]. "So I said to my wife that I'd get a rain CD and here it is and it's only 10 dollars, that's a great deal for rain."

"Yup," I say.

"Anyway, do you know my Mom died when I was just a kid and now I watch Abbott and Costello and think about her do you have any new Abbott and Costello?"

I check the computer.

"No, nothing new," I say.

"It really made me sad when I saw Costello die on screen" [at this point, I'm like 'WHA???'] but I got through it because it was also so funny. It was a lot like Star Trek.

"WHA?" I think I actually verbalized it without the 'T' because I was so shocked.

"You know in Star Trek when the Enterprise got destroyed and I looked at it and I thought 'That's my childhood and it's going up in flames and its gone forever!' man, that was a good movie. I love Christopher Lloyd. Anyway, bye."

And he turns and walks into the sunset. I'm sure he's still talking somewhere, to someone...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Regular Grunts


Yesterday was a particularly slow day in the music department of Booth and Noble. Besides the few stragglers who wandered around for hours and then didn't buy anything (a common practice), there were only a few sales of any worth.

So, instead of describing some of the society's rejects that shop at Booth and Noble, I think I might describe some regulars that are in the store every Sunday (the day I work).

The first I shall call Carl. Carl calls Booth and Noble every Sunday and requests a CD - his taste, judging from his purchase history, ranges from the hardcore (Aimee Mann) to the more subdued (Aimee Mann). He also likes Jazz and showtunes.

Carl has the habit of bending very close to the CDs as they are splayed out on the rack and thumbing through them quickly. He also has a rather large rump. Imagine, if you will, a large-rumped beast bent over a the waist, eyes three inches from the surface of the CD, scanning as quickly as possible. He will scan through most of "his" sections (Pop Rock - M, Jazz, Shows, and sometimes Blues) as quickly as possible. I don't know what he's looking for, or even if he can see it when he scans that quickly.

Carl also ends every conversation with me with a high five. This started about 8 weeks ago. He holds up his hand in the air, and as much as it depresses me, I cannot leave a man hangin' like that. So I slap him five.

I hate to encourage this behavior, because I do not believe that people who do not know each other should give each other five. A firm handshake would also be ok, although shaking the hand of an employee who just sold you an overpriced CD is a tad odd. But the high five - really? Is this a new thing, a "fad" as the kids say? Is it possible that I've missed out on the new cultural greeting?

What an interesting experiment: go into various stores and high five the people that work there. Here're my predictions:

Wal-Mart: Total high five back, if the person who works there hasn't already given up on life.
Old Navy: Possible high five. Only high five if the headsets are not working.
Famous Footwear: No high five, due to the fact that their backs are completely curved over.
Target: High five with an added "Whoop! Oh-yeah" because everyone knows that people that work at Target are clinically insane.
Abercrombie and Fitch: No high five, and a withering look of disdain.

Carl does not, I imagine, work at any of these places. He might work in a Hobby Shop. Or maybe in a factory making toys for overprivileged children.