Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
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.