I'm flirting with the idea of responding "Scooby-doo daddio." in complete deadpan, every time someone comes into the store and says something stupid that's designed to be funny at someone else's expense. Or when they tell me how much comics cost when they were a kid.
After an unproductive July, I decided one way to change the way I produce work is to leave the house for a couple of hours each day to go write. This means not meeting with people, hitting up a bar, or going to work early/late. Finding a new destination. And it's working.So far.
But, today, on my way to the T, I noticed there was a piece of cat fur dangling off my face. I tried to do a nonchalant beard rub but those look So Chalant when you're in a place as crowded as the subway station, so I just did a casual rub, and then hoped for the best.
On the train, the guy across from me kept looking at me as though I might have an entire cat in my beard. Or he was trying to figure out if he knew me from somewhere. Who knows?
So when I got off at my stop, I saw a dad with a two and a five year old, and I made brief eye contact with each of them. The two year old did not point. The five year old did not say "Daddy, what's wrong with that man's face?" So I figure I'm probably good.
My Very Patient Coworker came in to pick up some paperwork. While he was in the store Baron Von Poopypants came in. I was in the midst of unpacking boxes, which has never deterred him from talking at me.
BvP: Flash comics are really selling, huh?
BvP: Do you think it's because of the TV show?
BvP: I think so, too. I called yesterday, and your coworker said you didn't have the Gee-off Johns run but she pronounced it funny.
Me: It's pronounced "Jeff".
BvP: But it's spelled Gee-off.
BvP: I think Zoom is the best villain because he's not really a rogue, you know? He sort of does his own thing. Not like the rogues, you know?
BvP: I've been reading the Gee-off Jones run because he did Rebirth and Rebirth is one of the best selling Flash stories, right?
BvP: You could say that the Flash has really *flown* off the shelves. Get it? Because he's so fast.
Me: But he doesn't fly. he runs.
My coworker chuckles on the other side of the shelf.
BvP: I guess. Have you ever read any Gee-off Jones books.
BvP: You should. He's really good.
My coworker made his way around the shelves and BvP stood directly in front of him, staring at a shirt hanging from the ceiling.
Coworker: Excuse me.
BvP stands, agog.
Coworker rolls his eyes, and walks around him.
BvP: I'll be going now.
Proceeds to stand in place.
A woman comes in with two kids. They see that I am splitting books, and start moving comics that I've put down.
Me: Please don't touch those piles. I'm separating comics to put away.
Entitled Cambridge Lady: It's ok. We'll put them back.
Me: Sorry. If you're looking for something particular, I can help you find it, but I can't have you moving those piles around. They need to stay where they are.
ECL: It will just be a few minutes.
Me: No. They can't be moved.
ECL: They can, though. Watch!
Kid: Mom. Stop. We're not supposed to move them.
ECL: It's fine.
Me: It's not. Please leave the piles where they are, and if you're looking for something specific, let me know, I'll help you find them.
She continues to loiter in my space while the kids move away.
Kid: Do you have any Pokemon books?
Me: We do! here, I'll show you where they are.
ECL hovers around my workspace while I show the kids the Pokemon books.
Kid: Cool! Pokemon Emerald! I've never seen these before! Mom, look.
ECL vacates my space, and I undo the damage she did. I think.
ECL: We need some chairs over here.
Me: We're a store. We don't have chairs.
ECL: So we're supposed to just read them on the floor, then?
Me: Adults aren't allowed to sit on the floor. Your kids can, but adults sitting down creates a fire hazard.
ECL: There's a chair behind the counter.
Me: It's bolted to the floor.
This is a lie. And she knows it.
They read the entirety of the three books and left without buying anything. Of course.
I hope these kids have cool babysitters, cousins, or extended family so they don't grow up like their horrible mother.
8 year oldish kid won't stop talking over his sister, and belittling her love of My Little Pony.
Dad: Keep it up and you're getting a beating.
Kid continues to talk.
Dad: That's it. Show me your hand.
Kid: But Dad..
Dad: SHOW ME YOUR HAND.
Dad: Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!
Looks at hands.
Dad: I beat you Agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain!!!! Now you have to be quiet and let your sister talk.
Dude I Once Met Via A Dating App I'm No Longer On: Hey. I didn't know you worked here.
Me: Yea. For about seven years.
Dude: Cool. I was hanging out at Peet's and saw that you were online. like 100 feet away, so I figured I stopped by.
Me: Um. I left my phone at home today.
Me: Also, I deleted that app months ago.
Dude: Weird. Must have been somebody who looked like you.
Me: Must. have. been.
Dad: No toys today, just comics.
Kid: What about this?
Dad: That's a toy.
Kid: No. It's a keychain.
Dad: You don't need a keychain. You don't even have keys.
Everyone in the store broke out into laughter, including me.
I've expressed this to coworkers, and in the comment sections of Facebook posts, but today, after a Harvard Grad came in to reminisce about how he shopped here twenty years ago before you could torrent all of your comics, he said "I love this place. I'm so glad you're still here. I was sad to see that Tower Records is gone. What's your secret?"
"Oh, having a solid subscriber base, being personable. But, mostly, we thrive on people who have fond remembrances of the store, who are surprised we are still here, who remember how important it is to buy things from the places that they love, instead of just getting them for free online, so they can stay in business."
He left without buying anything.
I didn't shout "THIS IS WHY TOWER RECORDS IS GONE, ASSHOLE." after him, either. But I thought it really loudly.
A family from Belgium came in, and the resigned father said "I know the answer is no, but do you have any Mother Goose and Grimm books?"
"Yea," I said. "I have a whole stack over here."
"But...but they are out of print."
"A collector sold them to us." I said.
"They are all under $20 each?" He asked.
"Oh my god. I am from Belgium. I have been to US once before. In Florida I bought one book twenty years ago. Since then, everyone says they can not get them. And my kids love the first book as much as I loved it when I was a kid. I am so happy. I'm from Belgium. It's in Europe."
And I regretted saying "I know where Belgium is." in a tone of voice that suggested one would be an idiot not to know that, because he clearly had dealt with many people who didn't, in fact, know that Belgium is in Europe.
But he and his family left happy. "We will at least have things good to read if it rains for the rest of our trip."
The younger of the two kids even pumped his fist and said "Yes!" as they bought seven of the eight books we had (the eighth being the one they already owned).
I got really worried when these two bro-ey dudes came into the store, talking about things they hated. "Batman sucks because..." "Spider-Man sucks because..." "I hate Deadpool..."
So when "Do you even watch Doctor Who anymore?" came out of Bro #2's mouth, I felt my hatred rising.
Bro #1: "Nah. It sucks now."
Bro #2: "Did you hear there's going to be a woman Doctor now?"
My hands instinctively become fists.
Bro #1: "Huh. I might actually watch it again. Maybe they'll come up with interesting stories for a change."
Bro #2: "I know, right? They need some new writers, though."
I nod, and go back to doing some paperwork.
Bro #2: "Did you like Millar's Civil War?"
Bro #1: "Yea. It was pretty good."
Bro #2: "Should we buy the sequel? Civil War II: War Harder!"
I'm sorry I misjudged you bros. Come back, any time.