It’s been a long day. I have a headache. A very nice frequent loiterer comes in. The sort of nice that grates. I find myself smiling and chuckling so fake much that my headache is now an upper torso ache.
"What time is it?" He asks.
"Ten of nine." I say.
"Oh, you close soon, I don’t want to be that guy that comes in right before you close and make you stay late."
I smile. “I appreciate that, but we’re open until ten tonight.”
"Still." he says "I should leave. I have things to do."
"Okay." I smile.
A series of customers come through. I smile. I laugh. I can now feel my brain throbbing in my left pinky toe. At 9:50, I start to count the cash drawer. At 9:55, Too Nice Loiterer walks BACK into the store. “I guess I have some time to kill.” He says.
I feel like killing something, too. But it’s not time.
A guy walks into the store, bumble bee lines it to the porn section. A short while later, he was over by the new releases..”Hey, man, where did your GI Joe section go?” He asked.
"Sorry." I said. "People weren’t buying them off the shelves, so we only get enough for subscribers these days."
"Oh, man. I used to come in and read them every month." He said.
"Weird." I said. "We base our orders on sales. If you were buying one every month, we should still be getting them."
"Oh," he laughed, "I don’t buy comics. I just came in here and read them. Can you get new issues in for me?"
Really, dude? “If you buy them, yes. If you just want to read them and leave them on the shelf, no.”
He scrunches his eyes. “Then how am I supposed to read them?”
I smiled. “I guess you’ll have to take your non-business elsewhere.”
"For real, though, you’re ordering them, right?"
I continued to smile. “If you would like to subscribe to them, we’d be happy to put them aside for you to purchase them.”
"And if I don’t buy them..?" He asked.
"We cancel your subscription, and stop stocking them again."
He frowned, and walked out of the store. “I’ll be back next week.”
I’m certain he will be.
A very friendly family paws through the Giant Microbes box in our store.
"What should we get?" She asks her son. Then, to me, she says "It’s our fist time here."
"I think you should get the flu or the common cold." I say.
"But the chicken pox are so cute." She says.
"Yes." I reply,"but you can get the common cold and the flu over and over again. You can only get the chicken pox once."
And she has the nerve to look at me like I’m the strange one. I’m not the one buying viruses for my children.
I’m waiting for a burger, and a couple of students are passing a laptop back and forth. ”How do you even make a pdf?” One of them asks.
The other passes the laptop over him and says, “Look it up.”
First guy shrugs and starts typing. ”DUDE!” He says “What the fuck?”
"What?" Second guy asks.
"Why, when I type in ‘How do you make’ into Google does it suggest ‘How do you make your shit smell better’?"
I was laughing too hard to hear the answer. And then my food was ready.
When I got back to the store I typed “How do you” into Google. It suggested “How do you make french toast”. I don’t think our computers are on the same wavelength.
Near the end of a shift that started some time during the Adams administration (I can’t remember if it was John Adams or John Quincy Adams…it’s been that sort of day), the phone rings. I am standing on top of a ladder with the phone in my pocket because I’ve just got done inventorying the books in the window for my boss. “Store Name Redacted, how may I help you?”
"Greg?" says a familiar voice.
"Nope. Adam." I do not point out that there is no one here named Greg, and that he’s been calling one of my coworkers the wrong name for over a decade. Why do I not point this out? Because it’s Ask Me How Guy.
"Any books coming out this week?" He asks.
"Lots." I say. He likes to call every few days and ask about all the books I’ve read. He hasn’t bought a book here since the Bush administration (I can’t remember if it was George Walker Bush of Georger Herbert Walker Bush…it’s been that sort of lifetime), and I don’t feel like talking to him. "Is there a particular one you need to know about?"
"I’m sorry." he says. But he doesn’t mean it. "Long day?"
"Same amount of hours as every day." I say.
He laughs. “Do you like basketball?”
I know I’m going to regret answering this. “Yes.”
"It’s been an important day for basketball fans everywhere. Ask me why."
Damn. It. I do not ask why. I do not engage. I consider hanging up the phone.
"Because Dennis Rodman is in Korea. What do you think the short little slant eyes think of that?"
I now feel justified in hanging up the phone, so I do.
My coworker hears me let out a loud sigh. “Everything ok?”
I explain the conversation I just had. “All he had to say was ‘Did you hear Dennis Rodman is in North Korea? That’s crazy.’ and we’ve had an acceptable conversation, but he HAS to insert racism into everything.”
"Yea. That’s rough." She says. "Is there a reason you needed to have your last three conversations on a ladder?"
A smiling man* walks down the stairs, peers into the darkened windows of the copy place across the hall and turns to me to ask “What time do they open?”
"Monday." I say.
"Monday?" he asks. And now I can see him smiling.
"Monday." I say. "They’re closed Sunday."
"Well, you tell them they just lost a customer." He says, smiling.
"I can’t." I say. Also smiling.
"How come?" he asks.
"They’re closed." I say.
"You could tell them tomorrow." He suggests. Smiling.
"It’s my day off." I lie. "Besides, we have a strict policy, unless someone buys something from one of our stores, we can’t transfer each other’s messages."
He grimaces. “That’s a strange policy.”
"It helps weed out unnecessary negativity." I say. Smiling still.
"So, how do I leave them a message to let them know that I’m taking my business elsewhere?" And, I think, I really do think he’s kidding, to show off his knowledge that I am politely making fun of him.
"There’s a message service upstairs that can deliver your message." I lie. Smiling.
"Really now?" He says, also smiling.
"They charge $10 a message." I say. You know what my face is doing. "Or, you could buy a $3 comic, and I’ll throw in a message for free."
"Do you work on commission?" He asks.
"For that information, you have to buy, at least, this $1 Tintin button." I say. Anti-frowning.
"I would wish you a nice day," he says, the corners of his lips turned up in a manner indicating amusement. "but you seem to already be having one."
"It’s perpetual." I say, showing my teeth in a non-aggressive manner.
This day has been going on forever.
*- ok, I couldn’t see him smiling yet, but he walked like he was smiling