Today the red line was running late for reasons not listed on any apps, or revealed through their social media. As a result, I waited about twenty minutes at Downtown Crossing for the red line to come, making me about five minutes late for work.
While I was walking down the platform, I saw one of our subscribers and gave him a head nod. He either didn't see me or didn't recognize me, and didn't respond, which is totally fine.
When the T finally arrived, he got on the same car, and sat down across from me.
When we arrived at Harvard, he trotted up the ramps and the escalator, so that I was still getting on the bottom escalator as he was exiting the top.
I watched him turn the corner toward the store, as I passed where Curious George used to be.
Clearly, he was going to the store, so I picked up the pace, and probably arrived about forty-five seconds after he did.
Repeated Customer: "There you are. I've been waiting, like, ten minutes for you to get here."
Me: "No. You just got here. We were on the same train. I was sitting across from you."
RC: "I've been waiting ten minutes. I was about to leave."
So I shrugged, turned around, went to the CVS and bought some energy drinks. He wasn't here when I got back.
I'm not starting my day by enabling liars.
Regular I Haven't Missed: Do you have FandangoNow?
RIHM: Well, the other day, I saw that there was an animated movie on the service that I'd never heard of before. I don't remember the name of it.
RIHM: It looks like it's by an artist that I hate, do you know the artist Blah Blah Blah Nobody Cares?
RIHM: Well, it looks just like his stuff. And his stuff is awful.
RIHM: I went to watch it, and it wasn't very good. But at least it wasn't by Blah Blah Blah Nobody Cares. It still stunk, though.
RIHM: I think you can also find it on Youtube.
Me: So you're saying there's a terrible show, that you hate,and don't even know the name of, on a streaming service I don't have access to, and I should commit my time to tracking it down on
Me: Why would I seek out something you just told me was awful?
RIHM: Maybe you would like it.
I very much don't miss Saturdays here.
Random Vendor: Hi, can I talk with (Former Coworker Name)?
Me: They haven't worked here in years.
RV: I guess I haven't called in a year.
Me: It's been ten years since they left.
RV: Are you sure?
Me: Yeup. They trained me, and left a few months later.
RV: Can you get me their personal number?
Me: Nope. We don't have it.
RV: How would I go about selling my product to you?
Me: What is it?
RV: It's a fanzine.
Me: About comics?
Me: ... uhhh ... why don't you call you back on Friday and talk with the owner?
RV: Does he have their number?
I delete the person's phone number out of our computer, and write it on a note, to add it back in a couple of weeks, when I'm certain the person won't call again.
RV: It's pretty important that I get in touch with them.
Me: If you leave your contact info, I can pass it along to them. We have some mutual friends.
This is another lie. I see them every few months.
RV: I don't feel comfortable giving my number out to someone I don't know.
Me: RIGHT? I hear you.
RV: Will they be in next week?
Me: No, dude, they DON'T WORK HERE anymore. At all. Ever. And haven't in a decade. Your info is way out of date.
RV: That can't be right.
Me: It's right.
RV: Who have I been talking to?
Me: Couldn't tell you. But we haven't carried that book in the decade that I've worked here.
RV: NO. I send them out to you every year.
Me: Nope. Never seen it before.
RV: Is this Name Of Store That's Not Even In The Comic Book Industry?
Me: No. It's Store Name.
RV: OH. Yea, you guys don't carry my books.
Me: We sure don't.
RV: I didn't even know Former Coworker Name worked there.
Me: I'm thinking now that it is an entirely different person with that very common name.
RV: Wow. I just wasted a ton of my time.
RV: Do you happen to have the phone number of Store That's Not Even In The Comic Book Industry?
This is yet another lie. I have Le Google. But I'm not going to le use it.
RV grunts and hangs up.
I re-add the former coworker's contact info into the computer.
Me: I don't understand why our coworker refuses to break down boxes. Maybe he has better hearing than us, and can hear the boxes scream like lobsters when you cut into them with the box cutter?
Cuts the side of a box.
Cuts down center of a box.
Cuts down other side of box.
Coworker: You're creepy. You know that?
I pick up a second box, and cut down the side.
Me: Let them eat cake!
Cuts down center.
Me: Viva la revolution!
Cuts down other side.
Met: It's not gallows humor if you're in the audience. The difference is in the execution!
Random Loiterer: "Excuse me, can we come in and look around?"
Me: "NO. IT'S NOT ALLOWED."
RL: "Hahahaha. Thank you."
First customer of the day is a subscriber who is particularly persnickety. He is in the middle of, once again, explaining to me the various discounts he gets at various stores, when Baron Von Poopypants comes in.
BvPP: "OH THANK GOD."
Persnickety Subscriber: "Are you ok?"
BvPP: "Yea. New England Comics always havs the books that I want but they never have them, you know? I need to buy the new Nick Spencer Spider-Man books so I can be up to date for my role playing, and they don't have them but thank god you do."
BvPP: "My girlfriend" who doesn't exist "isn't going to be happy that I have all these Spidery books, but she likes the role playing, you know?"
I tell him the price of his books.
BvPP: "I don't mean to be rude, but can I have a bag for ten cents?"
Me: "That's not rude at all. Here you go."
BvPP: "Off to role play!"
He stenches out.
PS: "I ... I thought he was talking about ... you know ... dice and ... ewwwwwwww ... Ewwww. Ewww. Ewwww."
Random Loiterer: "Hi!"
Me: "Hey. How are you today?"
RL: "Do you remember me?"
Me: "I don't."
RL: "My name is Steve. I'm Moira's brother."
Me: "Sorry. I don't know who Moira is."
RL: "I came in and sold you hundreds of dollars worth of Mad Magazines about thirty years ago."
Me: "Ah. I was in fifth grade thirty years ago. So you were talking to somebody else."
RL: "I'm pretty sure it was you."
RL: "Do you know who I would have talked to?"
Me: "Again. I was ten. I didn't live anywhere near here. I have no idea."
RL: "It's pretty much the same staff, right?"
Me: "No. There have been a few changes in the last Thirty Years."
RL: "Do you have any Mad Magazines?"
Me: "Sure. They're over here."
RL: "I probably sold them to you."
Me: "Thirty years ago? I think we've rotated through stock a couple of times since then."
RL: "They're all cover price, right? I'm just joshing you."
I've known many a Josh in my day, and all of them are cooler than anyone who has ever used the word "josh" as a verb. I'm really content that "adaming" isn't a buzz word that corpses use when they're being annoying.
RL: "Hey, this box set here? How much is it?"
Me: "I don't know, let me look it up."
It takes me a while because it's a box set of old EC hardcovers that have probably been in the store since he sold us those Mad Magazines. I can't figure out the actual name of the box set, there is no bar code on it, and it doesn't come up in the Diamond Search Engine. Just as I find it, he starts to haggle. Though I have not given him a price.
RL: "I've seen it online for about two hundred dollars."
It's available from the publisher for $150. It's on Amazon from $85-$150.
RL: "I'll give you $125 for it."
This is perfectly reasonable. But he's annoying.
Me: "Call it $150?" which, again, is the actual price of it, if you order it new from the publisher.
He picks up a couple of Mad Magazines, and some old Peanuts books. It comes to $249.73
Me: "That will be $265.73."
RL: "Can you knock that down to $250 for me?"
Me: "I sure can."
Rude child enters the store, grabs a book from the shelf, and yelps as she plops down in the middle of the floor. Something about this is familiar.
Ah, yes. Dipshit Father comes in next.
DSF starts pipcking up books on the table. "I was supposed to get this in my subscription I haven-"
Me: "It's Monday. New books come in on Monday for Wednesday. We've talked about this many times."
DSF: "Oh yes."
He keeps pawing through the books.
Annoyed Daughter picks up a Raina Tegelmeir book and starts reading.
DSF: "Do you want me to buy that f--"
AD: "I DON'T WANT TO BUY IT! I AM JUST READING IT!"
DSF: "THIS ISN'T A LIBRARY. IT'S A BOOKSTORE! HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF--"
AD: "DAD I'M JUST READING IT. YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING I WANT TO DO. I HATE YOU!"
This exact scenario has happened here before.
There's more screaming. Then whispering. Then they walk to separate parts of the store.
Later, the daughter starts pawing at a Vampirella comic on the table.
DSF: "YOU CAN'T TOUCH THAT! It's not for sale yet."
Me: "It's fine. You can look it. I just can't sell it yet."
AD: "See, DAD. I'm not going to BUY IT. I just wanted to look at her costume. IT'S SEXY."
DSF: "NO SEXY COMICS."
I walk away to work on the computer and be out of their bickering range.
When they are done wandering around the store, occasionally yelling at each other, DSF comes up to the counter and puts down a book. Then, in tune to the Talking Heads song that's playing he shouts "I CAN'T SING OR PLAY MUSIC. I SUCK AND EVERYONE HATES ME BUT I KEEP RECORDING MUSIC EVEN THOUGH I CAN'T SING BECAUSE I'M AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWFUL."
Me: "That will be thirteen dollars and eighty cents."
DSF: "What about my subscr--"
Me: "Your subscription discount is for books you pre-order. We've talked about this before. You are NOT getting a discount for anything that isn't from your folder."
DSF: "I should just put this in my folder until next time then."
Me: "That's not how it works."
DSF: "I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE MUSIC BUT I WON'T STOP ANNOYING PEOPLE WITH MY HORRIBLE VOICE."
Random Loiterer: "Could you please stop screaming? It's really frustrating."
DSF, sarcastically: "I'm reeeeeeeeeeeally sorry."
Me: "You need to leave. Like, right now."
DSF: "Oh, ok. DAUGHTER'S NAME. WE HAVE TO GO."
AD, quietly: "I hate you so much."
They, along with an older brother who kept so much distance from both of them, that I hadn't even realized he was in the store, go up the stairs.
RL: "Oh my god. Are you ok?"
Me: "Yea. I was going to ask the same of you. I'm really sorry you had to be there for that."
RL: "Those poor kids. That guy is .. I don't even know."
Me: "He's here every month or so. Sometimes with his kids, sometimes alone. He's always unpleasant, but that was extreme, even for him. I sincerely hope he doesn't have custody of those kids, and that they only have to endure him on weekends and holidays."
Then I went back to counting books, and they went back to looking at books until the store filled up with other delightful people.
Random Loiterer: "How much are the comics behind you?"
Me: "They vary in price between $25 and $200 depending on condition."
RL: "I used to have a paper route when I was a kid."
RL: "And I would save up my money. And I had all the Marvel books for several years."
RL: "We kept them all bagged and boarded, and safe in boxes in the attic. But one year they tarred the roof, and some of it dripped on the boxes, so now they're not in great shape. But better than the ones you have here."
RL: "I give them to my nephew to read. They're the best comic stories. I don't want to waste his time with the Black Spider-Man and ... didn't they kill Captain America and replace him with a Black guy, too?"
I continue typing things into the computer.
RL: "Didn't they?"
Me: "Didn't they what?"
RL: "Kill Captain America and replace him with a Black Guy? That kind of stuff is too confusing for a kid. Don't you think?"
I continue typing things into the computer.
RL: "Maybe I'm wrong, but --"
Me: "I have work to do, and my boss says I don't have to talk to racists. Bye."
He left without buying anything.
Random Do-Gooder: "Hi, there's a lady outside with very heavy bags, who didn't want to come down the stairs if you don't have what she's looking for."
RDG: "It's a horse racing magazine."
Me: "Sorry. We only have comic books and graphic novels. No magazines unless they're comic related."
RDG: "Yea. That's the vibe I was getting."
Me: "I would check The Coop. It's the big Barnes & Noble monstrosity on the corner. They and Out Of Town News are your best bets for magazines."
RDG: "She said they might also have them at 103 Mt Auburn Street?"
Me: "Ummm. I don't know which way the numbers go on this street, but we're #99, so #103 is either a bank, a Verizon store, or a store that sells eyeglasses.:
RDG: "So they probably don't have horse racing magazines."
Me: "It seems unlikely."
RDG: "I'm going to have to walk her back to The Coop, aren't I?"
Me: "I think you can probably outrun her, if you have to."
Trying to keep track of whether I am angry at my job, or whether I just have free floating anger while I am in the place that I work is, itself, a full-time job with no benefits.
I had some non-stressful bank stuff to do this morning, so I was four minutes late for work. A seventy-something year old Very White Guy was yanking on the door with very little success.
Me: "Sorry. I was at the bank." I open the door. "Come on in."
VWG: "Your sign said you open at 11:00."
Me: "Yes. I was at the bank getting change, and it took longer than it should have. I'm sorry about the three minute delay."
VWG: "Do you have classic comics?"
Me: "Are there any particular titles you're looking for?"
VWG: "CLASSIC COMICS. From the 1940s and 1950s."
Me: "Classics Illustrated?"
VWG: "NO. CLASSIC COMICS."
Me: "Here's our back issue bins, they're arranged by title, and within the title they're chronological, so our oldest comics are up front. We also have a nostalgia section over--" He is on his phone not listening to me. "--by the hive of angry hornets that we keep to hand out customer satisfaction surveys."
I go back behind the counter to put the change away.
After a few minutes staring at his phone NOT looking at any comics. VWG: "These aren't classic comics."
Me: "Over here we have collections of newspaper comics and EC books from the 1940s and 50s. Are these more what you're looking for?"
VWG: "CLASSIC. COMICS."
Me: "Classics Illustrated? The comic versions of books like Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby?"
VWG: "CLASSIC. COMICS. How long have you worked here that you don't know --"
I walk over to the Classics Illustrated section. Me: "THESE?"
VWG: "Yea. CLASSIC. COMICS."
Me: "CLASSICS. ILLUSTRATED. They renamed the book in 1947. I don't think there are any Classic Comics issues floating around, but if you're in another store ask for Classics Illustrated, and the people working there will be able to lead you to the right place in their store."
VWG: "Back in my day--"
A hooded figure carrying a scythe raises his hood in our direction. I shake my head, trying to convey "Not in here, please." The hood vanishes. Briefly, the air twinkles where the scythe was.
VWG: "These were ten cents and called Classic Comics. How much are they now?"
Me: "The price is on the back."
VWG: "TEN? DOLLARS?"
VWG: "Where can I get these things for ten cents a piece?"
Me: "Before 1950, when the price went up to fifteen cents. But you're not going to find any comics for ten cents in 2019."
VWG: "I'll take my business elsewhere, then."
Me, under my breath, "Tell the clerk in 1948 that society won't improve in their lifetime."