Random Bullshitter to a person of another gender: "This is their noir section. They organize things by genre."
Me: "Nope. That's our European section. Books written and/or drawn by Europeans. There are also some South American creators on the third shelf."
RB: "I'm pretty sure it's all your noir stuff."
RB's Victim: "Are you seriously arguing with the person who works here about how their store is organized? Do you ever stop?"
RB: "That's it. I'm done. I have reached my limit. Goodbye."
And then I and the person who remained had a lovely conversation about which European comics she might enjoy.
Random Mom: "Hi."
RM: "So, my brother came in here this weekend to buy some books for my ten year old and for my sixteen year old nephew. And I think he mixed up books."
RM: "He left us some Greek God comics, which were fantastic, but also this."
She puts down a copy of "The Adventure Zone", a comic based on a podcast based on gaming culture that is not geared for ten year olds.
RM: "I work for a publisher so I didn't want to to throw it away, but also I can't have it in my house. I was not ready for my ten year old to ask me what 'masturbating' means."
Me: "Sure. If you want to just grab a book that's a better match, we can switch it out for you."
RM: "You don't need to do that. I just wanted the book to go to a more appropriate home."
Me: "I appreciate that. But it sounds like you have a responsible ten year old who deserves another book."
RM: "Thank you."
Me: "It's no problem. We'll definitely sell 'The Adventure Zone before Christmas."
RM: "Last summer I bought a book about a girl who goes to camp. Is there a sequel to that?"
Me: "'Be Prepared'? Not currently."
RM: "I think it's called 'Hidden Witch'."
Me: "Oh, that's a sequel to "Witch Boy'. We do have that."
RM: "I'll get that."
Me: "Here's your change."
RM: "You don't need to give me change."
Me: "Your book didn't cost as much. And we'll definitely sell the one you returned."
RM: "This went way more pleasantly than I imagined."
Me: "The rumors about my temperament have been greatly exaggerated."
After spending half an hour looking for fishing wire so I could hang up some t-shirts.
Coworker: "Could you go over to the hardware store and buy fishing wire?"
Me: "I feel like I just did this three months ago. There has to be a spool of it around somewhere."
CW: "Do you know where?"
Me: "No clue."
CW: "Let's just get a new spool then."
Me: "Ok. Any particular weight I should be looking for?"
CW: "I don't know. How much does a t-shirt weigh? Fifty? Sixty sharks?"
For the fourth time this year, an artist who did way too many drugs in the 60s and 70s comes in, just as I'm about to close the store.
Artist: "You guys probably don't buy original art, do you?"
Me, the first two times: "It depends."
Me the most recent two times: "No."
Artist: "I'm a famous rock and roll painter. I designed posters in the 60s and 70s."
Artist: "They sell for a lot of money online."
Me, the first time: "That's fantastic."
Me every other time: "Sure."
Artist: "It's not fantastic. I don't get any money from them. Do you know that website rockandrollpostersorsomethingdotcom?"
Artist: "They sell my work for hundreds of dollars, and I don't get a penny."
Me: "That sucks."
Artist: "I have a lawyer send a cease and desist, and....nothing. They keep ripping me off."
Me: "That's terrible."
Artist: "You guys sell comics."
Artist: "Comics are terrible. They're all violence and murder and rape."
Me, the first time: "No, there are a lot of different subjects, there are---"
Me, every other time: "All murder all the time."
Artist: "The people that read comics. They're sickos. What happened to peace, man? And love? They don't make love comics."
Me, the first time: "They do. There was a whole line of romance comics that started in the fifties, and now there are ---"
Me, every other time: "Nope. Murder murder murder, death, death, death."
Artist: "Sickos. Ditko, Kirby, Eisner. A bunch of sickos. Do you know any bands that might be looking for an artist to make posters?"
Me, every single time: "Nope. I don't listen to music. Or read."
Me, today: "Just murder murder murder, all day long."
Artist: "When's a good time to stop in and sell my posters."
Me, the first three times, "Come in on" I give him my boss's schedule. I write it down. All three previous times, I wrote it down for him.
Me, this time. "Alternating Thursdays during a month with two new moons. I think. It might be Wednesdays."
Artist: "You sickos probably don't buy original art anyway."
Me, the first time. "Not often. But you should come in, any way, and talk to my boss.
Me, the second time: "Nope."
Me, the third time: "It interferes with all the murdering."
Me, this time: "No. We spend all our money on knives and guns."
He leaves. Every time, no matter what I say.
I hadn't realized this time that there was another person in the store, until she laughed when I said "murder murder murder, death death death" in my sing-songy Fuck Off voice.
She was very nice, and bought a Junji Ito book, after asking where I kept all of the store's knives.
(Spoiler alert: unlike my previous comic book employers, we are a knife-free store. Though I do have a very adequate hammer, and three pairs of dull scissors.)
After about fifteen minutes of perfectly reasonable discussions about collectible comics, a Perfectly Nice Guy says "Hey, I was in a store the other day and I saw this Deadpool issue with two girls on the cover that I wanted. Do you know the one I'm talking about?"
Me: "No. Who were the two female characters?"
PNG: "They weren't specifically Marvel characters, it's just two generic women, and Deadpool is giving the peace sign."
PNG swipes on his phone. "Oh, here it is. Sorry, it's a variant cover for Seige #3."
Coworker: "I don't remember that one."
Me: "Because you never had it. In order to get it, you had to destroy fifty copies of DC's Blackest Night and send it to Marvel."
CW: "You're joking."
Me: "I'm not. I had to go through four different stores to find enough issues to send back for a former employer. I think we ended up with three of those variants. They sold for about $500 apiece, I think."
PNG: "No. It was cover price."
Me: "You should have grabbed it then."
CW logs into Ebay. "Wow. Someone sold one last month for $3,000. There isn't a single sale under $1800 since...I don't know."
PNG: "Who would pay that much for one issue?"
Me: "Not very many people. It's also an almost unmemorably Bad issue, which is probably why they had to do the silly Deadpool publicity stunt."
PNG: "Can you get a copy for me?"
Me: "Do you have three thousand dollars to spend?"
A kid about three or four comes into the store with a bunch of much older relatives, including the dad. There is an exhausting ten minute period where she says "Daddy" about four billion times, even though he is regularly answering and fully engaging with her.
Eventually, she grows tired of telling him which comics he should buy.
Little Girl: "Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?"
LG: "It's time to go get cotton candy."
Dad: "In a minute. We're going to buy a gift for your cousin first."
LG: "Daddy, now."
Uncle: "Wow. She's so bossy. Just like her mom."
Dad: "No. Her mom communicates directly, in a helpful manner. When she's bossy, she's being like her obnoxious uncle."
Uncle: "Does this mean I'm not getting any cotton candy?"
Working on appropriate curses for the Boomers who come in and wax poetic about how glad they are the store still exits, but then leave without buying anything:
Me: "May all your credit cards be reported stolen the day after Thanksgiving and not be replaced until January."
Coworker's variation: "May you lose your wallet, only to find out, a month later, that it was in your house the whole time."
Random Claude Caravan comes in.
Random Claude #1 tosses a copy of Black Panther Long Live The King at me.
RC 1: "How much?"
Me: "$14.99 plus tax."
RC 1: "I will give you ten dollars."
Me: "Thanks. I appreciate it. I'm not going to give you the book, though. That costs $14.99 plus tax."
RC 1: "Ten dollars."
Me: "Ten dollars!"
RC 1: "You'll do it?"
He walks out of the store.
RC 2: "You'll have to excuse him. He's from Amsterdam."
Me: "Where, I bet, they also think he's a dick."
She laughs, and the rest of the caravan chugs on out of the store, surprising no one, without buying anything.
A man walks in with aroma of retired debate club arrogance. He walks over to the back issues, side stepping the CLOSED sign blocking the only reasonable path.
"Sorry," I say, "that section is closed."
"Oh, no. Really? Why?"
"I'm putting away this week's books." I say.
"That's okay. I want to look at your Iron Man and Captain Americas." which are the comics behind me when I work at the computer, in the open portion of the store.
"Sure." I say, handing him the stack.
"Are these prices firm?" He asks. "I like to haggle."
"They are." I say. "You can discuss prices with the owner but he prices them at the lower end of the spectrum because, like me, he doesn't like to haggle."
"You can't knock off, like," he swats at the book, not in a damaging way, "five bucks on this."
"Nope They're not my books to knock money off of."
He makes a face. "See, I go on Ebay, and I see these books starting at ninety-nine cents."
I make a face. "They're probably reprints. This is a fifty year old book. I can't imagine they'd start the bidding at under twenty bucks."
"They go up to eighty or ninety before I give up. I don't have that kind of money for a comic. I read them for the-- mind if I open this?" he asks.
"I read them for the stories. I'm not one of those.." he pulls the comic out of the bag, flips it open to a page, and sticks his nose All The Way In to the binding, loudly sniffing "people who buy the books for the money, I" flips to another page, sticks his nose in, and sniffs loudly "I like them for the stories."
Today is never going to end.
"Have you considered getting the collections, then? They're sturdier, you get more story."
He stops mid-sniff to shake his head disapprovingly at me.
"You kids" I'm a kid now! "trying to tell me how to collect things. I've been collecting since I was a kid" back before humans knew how to control fire, back when they viewed women as property and not people, so you know, any point in history up to this point, "I know more about collecting than you" who work in a store that specializes in the thing that I collect "could ever know. Sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiifffff."
"See this one has a tear, so you should knock off a few bucks. That's how they do it on EBay. But I don't like to order from there, you never know when they smell like mildew."
"True." I say. "The thing is, the owner *has* knocked off a few bucks. He's a certified expert on grading comics. I'm not. It's why I don't haggle. But he's been working for this store for almost as long as I've been alive. And he's owned it for over twenty years."
"The Black guy?" he, of course, asks.
"One of them." I say.
"Glasses and a paunch?"
I inhale. But not deeply. Not like I'm sniffing for mildew. "Sure. So he knows all about pricing. He's one of the foremost experts in the country." This might be hyperbole. Who can quantify that skill?
"This one has a little tear in the corner, though."
I nod my head. "I know. He knows, too. If it didn't have the little tear, it would be more expensive."
"I think I could find this for ninety-nine cents on EBay."
"Then you should get it there." I say, reaching for the pile.
He says, "You're a tough negotiator."
"I'm not, though. I don't have the authority to negotiate, as these aren't my books, and this is not my store."
He pulls one of the issues back. "Alright. I'll get this one."
"That's twenty dollars, please."
He gives me a twenty that smells of mildew enough that I don't have to put it up to my nose.
"Can I have a bag?"
"Sure thing." I say. "But I have to charge you for it. It's Cambridge law."
"Oh yea. I keep forgetting that. It's a dime, right?"
"It starts at a dime." I explicitly lie. "But can go up to about three dollars depending on the quality of the bag. Ours are a quarter." you asshole.
The owner of the store had low-risk surgery this morning, and just called to check in.
Owner: "I survived the surgery, so I guess (His Son's Name) doesn't run the store yet."
Me: "That's the chain of succession? You skip over your employees, straight to your eleven year old son? Wouldn't it make more sense for your wife, who runs nonprofits to take over?"
Owner: "She doesn't want to do that. Maybe (Coworker's Name)?"
Me: "She doesn't want to do that, either. Plus, hasn't (Other Coworker's Name) worked here longer than some of us have been alive?"
Owner: "That makes sense. You think he'd want to do it?"
Me: "No, none of us would want to do it, but he'd be the most prepared to make it somebody else's problem."
Owner: "I guess I'll have to keep surviving then."