A couple of lowkey, youngish teenagers come in and begin walking around and checking prices on things.
About a minute later, a woman in a non-matching Canadian Tuxedo (washed light on bottom, dark on top) cawed into the store.
Canadian Tuxedo: "You wanna buy some squishamallows?"
Me: "I'm sorry, you're going to have to put on a mask."
CT: "No, it's fine. I've been vaccinated."
Me: "You still need to put on a mask."
CT: "No, I --"
Young Teenager #1: "Mom. Shut up and put on your mask or leave."
CT: "Touchy Touchy." She puts on her mask. "Squishamallows. I got a stack a squishamallows, I can get them to you for cheap."
YT1: "Those are my squishamallows. They are not for sale."
CT: "Sure they are. They're like Beanie Babies, you got to get in and get out before they're not worth anything. I bet this guy would love to buy the whole stack of squishamallows."
Me: "Sorry. We're not buying squishamallows right now. Or ever, really."
CT: "Oh, you gotta buy squishamallows. They're the Next Big Thing."
CT: "We've got old manga, too. You need to buy any manga?"
Me: "Get me a list of what you have. If it's anything we need, we might buy it. But it won't be for much. Maybe $3 or $4 per book, most likely."
CT: "Oh no, these ones are worth a lot of money. You're gonna die when you see what we've got. They're so valuable. Mint condition."
Me: "Great. Get us a list and maybe some photos, and I'll let you know if we're interested."
CT: "Are you hiring?"
CT: "Not even for the summer? Oh, it's not for me. I mean, no offense, but I've got a much better job. It's for my daughter. She's very experienced she's got five years experience working at IDUGjhDGF,jDfgMNF."
Her daughter is MAYBE 15, probably 14. She shouldn't have five years working anywhere.
Me: "We're not hiring at all."
CT: "Well, I can leave you my card. That will change in a few weeks. It gets busy in the summer, and you'll wish you had someone like my daughter working here."
She sees that I have a box of food to my left. I had just had lunch dropped off when they'd shown up.
CT: "Oh, I didn't know you were eating lunch. I'm sorry. Is it from Bridge Pizza?"
CT: "Do you ever order from Bridge Pizza?"
Me: "I'm not familiar with them."
CT: "Oh, they're the best. Two pizzas for $17. Large pizzas, not the small ones. And the people there are so nice. And it's local. You should be supporting local businesses, not ordering from chains and what not."
Me: "This is from Wrapture, which is about a block and a half that way. Very local."
CT: "Well Bridge is the best pizza in town. And they're gentlemen. Not like these other place, you know?"
CT: "When do you work?"
Me: "Constantly. There's no schedule though. I'm just here when I'm here."
This is a Complete Lie.
CT: "So if I come in in, say, a few weeks, you'll be here eating Bridge pizza and ready to buy our manga."
Me: "You never know."
CT: "Ok. Well, we've got to go. We don't need anything here right now. No offense."
Me: "None taken."
CT: "Last chance. A whole stack of squishamallows for a Very Reasonable price."
Me: "Thanks, but we're not buying squishamallows right now."
CT: "Hmph. Your loss."
The nearest place called Bridge Pizza is about a half an hour drive on the highway.
Faceless Torso On Grindr: U lookin?
(Spoiler alert: I'm not.)
FT sends three pictures in rapid succession. Two are incredibly blurry face pics of someone who probably looks somewhat like me. The third is Clearly either His High School Wrestling Photo from 1993 or a picture of someone who is not him. Either way, not how you should be representing yourself to people when you are 45 fucken years old.
Me: You wrestle?
No Longer FT: Not anymore.
NLFT: No. I got injured.
Me: Did you break a hip?
Then he blocked me.
I'm not sure why I thought of this today, but I remembered, perhaps, one of my most culturally ignorant but inoffensive moments of the last decade.
As many of you know, I went to school as a Deaf Education major. I was, many many years ago, near fluent in ASL, and tried to be vigilant about keeping up with Deaf Culture.
Almost a decade ago, I started the Insafemode Podcasts, and put them up on my own website, as well as iTunes. They contain a couple of stories about a few of my Deaf friends from Cape Cod.
A Deaf friend of mine messaged me and asked if there was a version that was accessible to the Deaf and Hard Of Hearing.
I spent about an hour trying to figure out how to justify my desire to not write up transcripts of the podcasts because I just didn't feel like I had time.
And then I realized, I was reading all the posts from a book. Books Exist And Are Accessible To The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing. So I sent her the PDF, shortly after I slammed my head my head so hard into the counter that it made a dent.
While I'm away, Comrade is playing the role of me in Harvard Square.
Insomnia Cookie Employee 1, eating a cookie his coworker just made: "This is underbaked, m'dude."
Insomnia Cookie Employee 2: "They're the best that way. Insomnia cookies is the top of the underbaked cookie game."
Comrade: "Insomnia Cookies , where the cookies are less baked than the staff."
"Come on girls, get those butts up, and down, and UP, and DOWN. Whose children are these, ladies? They're not our children, right? They're Destiny's Children. All the single ladies know what I mean, right? OOOT! OOOT! I wanna see you racing around those living rooms like You're Aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive. Yea, I Sia! WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOO!"
So, the art of improv is alive and well at the yoga studio beneath our store.
I posted a while ago about the Optimistic Reviewer I've encountered who gives almost everything five stars, including books that she never actually read because she ordered it online, and it didn't arrive.
This was today's gem:
"Honestly, I picked up this book at the library because no one else had checked it out and I felt bad. I also kinda liked the cover.
It was good! I enjoyed it emensly. Could use some more editing." Five stars.
I can't wait for the day when I run across a review where she Doesn't give the book five stars.
"This book abour mudering my parents wasn't really for me. Especially the part where the author came to my house and murdered my parents in front of me while I was reading the book. But I did love their use of punctuation!" Four stars.
Kid Who Just Started Collecting Pokemon Cards: "Do you have any John Lennon cards?"
Me: "Um. No?"
Kid's Friend Who Knows More About Pokemon: "I think he means Charmeleon cards."
Me: "Huh. That's definitely a maybe."
Working in collectible retail means you field a lot phone calls from people looking to sell collections of various things tangentially related to what your store actually sells, or Not At All related to what your store sells.
For the most part, people try and unload baseball cards, Beanie Babies, DVDs, video games, or National Geographic magazines.
Today, someone Actually called the store, trying to sell a collection of pogs.
Wannabe Pog Seller: "Do you know of anywhere that might be interested in taking them?"
Me: "No. I took a collection of pogs to the dump once, and the employees tracked me down at my house and made me take them back."
Last week, someone left a benign but positive comment on one of my Goodreads review (on a post several years old). They started following my reviews, so I decided to check out their profile.
Y'all. I've said something like this before about a couple of different writers. If you are in your thirties, it's time to let go of the Creative Writing Award you won in elementary school. Maybe you don't need to mention that your summer camp newsletter published one of your stories. But if you are going to list a series of twenty year old accomplishments that rank up their with "Mom used a magnet to stick this to the fridge", please Please please pay attention to your Point Of View. I cringe everytime I read "Ploppalina Dunt's first poem 'The Bright Light Makes The Sky Cry' was posted on her third grade classroom bulletin board for three days in 1992. Her short story about my time learning how to swim at summer camp made it into the camp newsletter. That same story was voted third runner up in her elementary school lit journal, which I edited."
She is Relentlessly positive. I mentioned to Comrade that on a scale of zero to five, the average score she gave to books was Five.
He later texted me, "I just went down the Ploppalina rabbit hole and found The Most Positive Review I've ever seen. She gave a guide to birds Five stars, with the following review: 'I never actually received my copy of Guide To Birds, but I bet if I had, it would have been wonderful.' I didn't know how to process that, and had to turn my computer off and go for a walk."
I am being sincere when I say that I can't wait to read more of her reviews.
Things at the store have been pretty chill for a while. Busy, but not stressfully busy. And it had been a long time since there was an in-store customer worth writing about.
It's still been a while since there was an in-store Customer worth talking about. But Thursday brought back a Hell I Have Not Fully Experienced since my days working at The Coolidge Corner NEC: double-digit aged children whose parents have never had the human decency to say No to them.
A perfectly nice dad and his perfectly reasonable kids were in the store. His kids were probably three and five. The older one was enamored of The Simpsons and asked his dad if they could watch it when they got home. The younger kid was barely keeping it together Not Touching any of the plushies that he so desperately wanted. They were just kids being kids.
Then THEY came in. An eleven or twelve year old boy and his ten or eleven year old sister. No parents in site. They had been knocking on the front windows for a minute before they just dropped their bikes in the middle of the sidewalk in front of the store, and strolled in.
Whatever, they're just kids.
The girl walks over to the YA section (cool), picks up a YA Catwoman book, and starts looking around.
Before the pandemic, there were chairs in the YA section. We kept them around a display table, and parents and kids could sit down and read together and talk. And we, the employees, would occasionally have meetings there. Since the pandemic, we hide the chairs under some displays because we can't really have people spending an hour reading when we can only have about ten people in the store at a time. We, Especially can't have two grubby little germ factories who keep pulling their masks down below their noses, sitting in the store spraying Covid everywhere.
The girl sees the chairs under the displays, pulls one out and plops down on it. Because there didn't seem to be an imminent influx of customers, I decided to let it slide. Kids will be kids.
The brother kept wandering around knocking things over. Not on purpose. He's just at The Age Of Klutz. It's fine.
After I sell a few kid books to the dad of Two Perfectly Normal Kids, they walk out of the store, and I start working on a reorder.
12 Year Old: "Can I see the Captain America shield?"
There is, behind the counter, an expensive Captain America shield replica hanging by our wall books. I have never taken it down before, nor seen it taken it down. But I notice it has a couple of smudges on it, and figure, Kids Are Kids, I'll just let this kid hold the shield for a few minutes, and then I'll be able to sanitize it, and get rid of some of the marks before putting it back. Fine.
12YO: "What's the scale on this?"
Me: "I have no idea. It's just a replica prop."
12YO: "But is it to scale?"
Me: "I have no idea."
12YO: "Can you look it up?"
Kids will be kids.
Me: "Nope. Their website is down."
This is a lie.
The kid wanders around for a few minutes, shows his sister the shield and then brings it back to me, and I start to Windex it before giving it a once over with some Sanitizer.
12YO: "Can I try on the Boba Fett helmet?"
There is a $350 Boba Fett helmet behind the counter. It is not for sale.
Me: "Sorry. It's up there permanently. We can't really take it down."
12YO: "What if I buy it?"
Me: "Well, it sells for about $400, but ours is not for sale."
12YO: "That's too expensive."
12YO: "What about that Mandalorian helmet?"
Me: "That one is for sale. But it's also about $400."
12YO: "Can I try it on?"
12YO: "Why not?"
Me: "Because of Covid, we're not allowed to let people try on helmets."
This is sort of a lie, but it also should be true. So it's now true.
12YO: "Oh. But I don't have Covid."
Me: "Good. I still can't let you try it on."
He wanders away to go knock some more things off of shelves and then put them back in the wrong places.
While he's wandering, the dad with normal kids comes back, without his kids, to buy a set of books he'd been considering. It's a big sale, so I'm happy to see him return, and begin talking to him about how much I enjoy the series (East Of West by Jonathan Hickman).
12YO: "Excuse me?"
12YO: "Could I borrow $400? I want to buy the Mandalorian helmet."
Dadguy, laughing: "Me, too. But it's out of my price range. Sorry."
12YO: "My dad will pay you back. We have the money."
Dadguy: "Sorry, pal. Not today."
12YO walks back to where his sister is, and sits on the floor to pout.
Dadguy buys his books, says goodbye to everyone, laughs again, and leaves.
12YO: "Let's go. I don't want to be here anymore."
10YO: "Ok. Sir?"
10YO: "Can I take this book with me? I'm not finished with it yet?"
Me: "No. Sorry. We're not a library, we're a store. You'd have to buy it."
10YO: "But I"m not done with it."
I shrug. "We don't let people borrow books. Sorry."
12YO: "Our dad will pay for it next time we come in. He has money."
Me: "Sorry. You have to pay for the books before you take them. That's how stores work."
I shrug. "Capitalism."
12YO: "Adults always say that."
Then the 10YO put the book back (in way the wrong place), and the two of them went outside to their miraculously unstolen bikes and rode off to, no doubt, annoy someone else who works in retail.