Entitled Harvard Student: Are you waiting to get into the print store?
Employee of Print Store: I work here. Unfortunately, the person with the keys has a family emergency. If you come back in about fifteen minutes, we'll be open, and ready to help you.
EHS: But I need something now.
EPS: Sorry. There's nothing I can do.
EHS: Isn't the whole point of a print store being open on time, and Helping People?
EPS puts her headphones on and starts looking at her phone. Like a boss.
EHS: What. Do. I. Do?
EPS: You do what I'm doing. You wait. Quietly.
Other Employee walks down stairs.
EHS: Oh my god. Do you have the keys?
He jingles them.
EHS: Thank god. I've been waiting here for an hour.
OE: It's 10:05. We open at 10.
EHS: I am in a hurry. This is, literally, life or death.
OE: Choose death.
Harvard Frosh: "I don't know how to feel about all this Nazi fetish porn."
Spoiler alert: We do not, nor have we, in the time I've been here, EVER had Nazi fetish porn.
Other Harvard Frosh: "What are you talking about?"
HF: "Like, if she's really hot. And the purpose of the porn is that Nazis are bad, is it ok?"
HF: "I mean really hot."
OHF: "You're a moron."
HF: "Not ok, then?"
HF: "But, like, Really Hot. And definitely the villain."
OHF: "I'm requesting a new roommate as soon as we get back on campus."
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.
Today has featured a steady stream of sad, aggressive idiots trying to get into the Very Closed copy shop across the hall, but my favorite is a woman who kept knocking on the door (where the lights are out, and there is a sign that says closed) even after I told her they were closed. After a couple of exaggerated sighs, she came into the store and said "If they're closed, where can I get this key copied?"
"Uh. The hardware store around the corner? That place is a print shop. They don't copy keys, even when they're open."
"THEN WHY ARE THEY CALLED A COPY SHOP?"
A Harvard degree may look good on a resume from somewhere outside of Boston, but most of us who live here know that a majority of Harvard students, in addition to being overwhelmingly entitled, are Dumb As Trump.
On my way to work, in the distance, I saw a young dude jumping up and pointing to the sky. He then ran across the street, and a different person took his place, jumping and pointing into the sky. This repeated three times as I approached. I was consistently wondering, "Why are these prospective Harvard students getting their pictures take pointing to the sign of a hardware st---OH."
The hardware store in the square is called Dickson Bros. but there is an interesting kerning issue that makes it read Dicks on Bros.
Old Man In Pulled Up Socks, Shorts, And Glasses: "Do you have any Asterix or Tintin?"
Me: "Yes. It's over--"
OM: "Do you have it in French, German, or Swedish?"
Me: "No. Only English."
OM: "That's a shame. I think Asterix is an excellent way to teach foreign languages. It's so funny. My first language was French, and when I came here, I took a class over" he waves in sort of the direction of Harvard, "there? No, there. There, probably. Anyway, they told me I had to learn German, and I thought 'I already speak two languages.' They gave me a paragraph in German to translate to English and a book in English to translate to German. And that's now how I learn. But they said that's the way they've taught it for hundreds of years. Well, the nuns that taught me just threw it at us and--"
The phone rings. OM pauses.
Person On Phone: "Hi. I need to talk to the person in charge of your Merchant Services account."
Me: "We don't have one."
POP: "According to my records, you--"
Me: "We don't have one. We use Square."
I hang up the phone.
OM: "--and I was in tears. So I went to Schoenhoff's, and the guy told me he could help me, and do you know what he gave me?"
OM: "That's Right! It really is--"
The phone rings.
POP: "Sorry, we got disconnected. Can I speak with the person in charge of your Merchant Services Account."
Me: "We. Don't. Have. Or. Want. One. Goodbye."
I hang up the phone.
OM: "It really is the best way to learn a language. I like" he puffs himself up "Obelix and the little dog the best. They're very funny, don't you agree?"
The phone rings.
POP: "We got disconnected ag--"
I hang up the phone.
OM: "Who is calling you?"
OM: "Oh, they're the worst. They always call when you're trying to get something done and they just talk and talk about things nobody cares about."
Me: "Can you imagine?"
The phone rings.
POP: "It's me ag--"
Me: "Our owner's name is (Name), he'll be in Friday and Saturday from 11-7. If I hear your voice even once between now and then, I'm reporting you to the Better Business Bureau. Don't. Call. Me. Again."
I hang up the phone.
OM: "So I've loved Asterix ever since. The problem with reading it is that it doesn't teach you the pronunciation. I can read Swedish very well, but I don't know about pronouncing. There was this cute little Swedish girl about fifty years ago." He shivers. "I guess that's another story."
OM: "I like this store it's very earthy. If you had books in Swedish, I would buy them."
Me: "Well, we barely have room for all the books in English, so we stick to that."
OM: "Maybe you should branch out. You're a pretty new store, so you might find an audience."
Me: "This store is 45 years old."
OM: "Well I've never seen it."
Me: "We're very close to The Earth."
OM: "Do you have any Asterix in Russian?"
OM: "We need to learn it when Trump's golfing buddies show up." He says something in Russian.
The phone rings.
Unrelenting Loiterer: "Hi. Do you have a website?"
Me: "Yes. It has all the new releases coming out and some special announcements."
UL: "What if I want to order something to be shipped. Do you ship overseas?"
Me: "We do ship. I don't know about overseas. Take our card, and e-mail us, and the person in charge of our shipping will get back to you."
UL: "But your website shows everything that is in your store."
Me: "Oh god, no. But all comic book stores in the US have the same distributor, so if you see something you like, you can e-mail us, and we can let you know if it's available."
UL: "But what if, I like a writer and want to know everything about them."
Me: "You could look up their titles on Wikipedia, or on their own website, if they have one--"
UL: "I am a physicist. I don't have time to look up comic books."
UL: "I need a website that aggregates all comics by author and illustrator. Do you know of such a site?"
Me: "I think you'll have to design it. Right now, publishers have all their available titles on their website, but I can't think of one website that easily lists every comic, who wrote it, who inked it, who lettered it, and whether or not it's available."
UL: "I am an academic. I spend all day reading, I don't have time to look up all this info."
Me: "Do you have an assistant?"
UL: "I am a physicist. No. Do you have an assistant?"
Me: "Of course. And I'm just a writer. Not a physicist."
UL: "You have assistant? Could I loan them from you?"
Me: "No. I can't have them dividing up their time between me and someone else. You'll have to find your own."
UL: "So how will I find out which comics are good?"
Me: "Which comics do you like?"
UL: "Good ones."
I recommend a few books at random, and he decides to get Monstress. I think because I had referenced Marjorie Liu earlier, but, as much as I do like her work, I only referenced her because her book was at eye level.
UL: "If your assistant is no longer needed, you will pass their info on to me."
Me: "Of course."
UL: "Maybe you could open a store in Turkey."
Me: "That seems unlikely."
UL: "It might not make any money but it would be cool to have a store there."
A Dozen Hipsters In Harvard Square Found Stabbed Through The Eyes With Sharpie Markers, Local Comic Book Employee Professes Innocence. Story At Ten.
I'm headed to The Homeland tomorrow to do some family things, so I've stayed late in the store, hoping there will be no reason for anyone to call me tomorrow and ask me for work help.
I just went out to get a drink, and came back to find someone pulling on the door. I waited for him to move a reasonable distance away, and then I began to unlock it.
Random Entitled Person: "Oh good, you've got the keys!"
Me: "Sorry all the businesses in the building are closed."
REP: "I just need to pick something up real quick."
Me: "Sorry. The stores all closed at seven. It's nine. All the cash has been deposited, the credit cards are batched. Nobody could sell you anything, even if I let you inside." This is a list of lies.
REP: "I just need to get one book. I could give you some extra cash, and you could keep all of it. You'd be doing me a huge favor."
Me: "I can't. I'm just the maintenance guy." Lies. Lies. Lies.
REP: "I really need an economy book before class tomorrow."
I didn't even know there were classes going on in the middle of August.
Me: "Someone would have to print that for you."
REP: "Yea. Could you do that?"
Me: "Could the maintenance guy go into a printing business, find the files you need for your class, print them out, collate them, and sell them to you without the business that he doesn't technically work for finding out and firing him?"
REP: "I'll give you ten extra bucks."
Me: "Here's an economics lesson for free. Your ten dollars can go fuck themselves."
I close the door, lock it, and go chill out of the lines of sight for a few minutes before returning to work.
I am curious as to how the copy place across the hall is going to respond, should the kid complain about "the rude maintenance guy".
(There is no maintenance guy for our building, we all clean our own spaces, so nobody is going to get in trouble at my expense.)
There was a lot of free floating anger in Harvard Square today. An old man shouting at his grandson for interrupting his reading. When a concerned dude sitting next to him asked him to calm down, he started shouting "Fuck off you fucker. He's mine. He's my grandson. If I want to fucken yell at him for being a fuck, I fucken will." Both the dude and the kid said they were ok. (I asked.) And the dude works for social services and started making a call, after telling me I could leave.
Also, the shitty Christian guy with the Bible Quiz put up a sign reading "Pray for police." which is fine but prayer is empty, and he never put up a sign for any of the Black humans killed by police or for elementary school children massacred by gun violence. Shit, we're within reasonable walking distance of The Boston Marathon and this dude never even wrote Boston Strong on his sign, so he can eat and choke on a splintery cross the size of Texas.
All this and Life had me in a terrible mood, and then I saw two four year old girls posing as mannequins in The Urban Outfitters window, sticking out their tongues at strangers walking by, and the world felt ever so slightly less heavy.