When I switch shifts with someone, it becomes increasingly clear that I've been slowly training people not to call and annoy me during my regular shifts. Everybody who calls today is part of the Lonely Asshole club, and they have fifty-five hundred questions about comic books that they've been misled to believe are important enough to waste my time on the phone.
Person On Phone: "Do you have the rest of the Mage trilogy?"
Me: "The rest of?"
PoP: "I was in the other day, and there are three parts of the story."
PoP: "So do you have it?"
Me: "What do you already have?"
PoP: "It's in a bag."
Me: "Uh huh. What's in a bag? And where is this bag?"
PoP: "I gave it to you yesterday."
Me: "Nope. I wasn't here yesterday. I don't know who you are, or what you're looking for."
PoP: "The rest of the Mage trilogy."
Me: "I can't help you find the rest of something if I don't know what you already have."
PoP: "I see. I had the guy put issues #11 #12 and #13 in a bag."
Me: "Ok. Well, I don't know how that factors into a trilogy. There were fourteen issues of the previous Mage series, and the current run is up to six."
PoP: "Not the reprints."
PoP: "Not the reprints."
Me: "What about the reprints?"
PoP: "I don't want them. I have the paperbacks from thirty years ago. Those have got to be worth a fortune, huh?"
Me: "Probably not."
PoP: "Do you collect comics?"
PoP: "Well, if they're not worth anything, I should just give them away, huh?"
Me: "That would be very charitable of--"
Random Customer In Store: "EXCUSE ME. YOUR DOCTOR WHO. I NEED YOUR DOCTOR WHO."
Me (on phone): "Hold on a second."
I lead the person to the Doctor Who comic section.
RC: "NOT THE COMICS, GEESH! THE MAGAZINE. DOCTOR WHO THE MAGAZINE."
I lead them over to the--
RC: "HOW MUCH IS THIS? IT DOESN'T SAY HOW MUCH IT IS."
Me: "It's $11.99."
RC: "I REMEMBER WHEN THEY WERE ONLY FIVE DOLLARS."
Me: "Ah, the Good Old Days."
PoP: "I remember the good old days. How much are Watchmen issues worth?"
Me: "I have no idea."
RC: "CAN I PAY YOU FOR THESE?"
Me: "Sure thing. $11.99"
PoP: "They're only worth $11.99?"
Me: "No. Sorry, I'm talking to someone in the store. I don't know how much they're worth."
RC: "DIDN'T YOU SAY $11.99?"
RC gives me the money and leaves.
PoP: "Did you find the rest of the trilogy?"
Me: "I don't know what you mean by The Trilogy. There were fourteen issues of the 80s and 90s run. The current run is up to six issues."
PoP: "The trilogy is the original story."
Me: "Ok. Well, there were fourteen issues."
PoP: "The trilogy?"
Me: "I don't know anything about a trilogy. There were fourteen issues of the old run. There have been six issues of the new one."
PoP: "Are the new issues part of the trilogy?"
Me: "I have no idea. I can't find anything online about a trilogy."
PoP: "Do you know why they made him bald in the reprints?"
Me: "Huh? He's bald in the new series because it takes place thirty years later."
PoP: "They're not reprints?"
Me: "The New Ones? No. The New Issues aren't reprints. They're new."
Me: "Look, I have a ton of people in the store and--"
RC: "I ALREADY HAVE THIS BOOK. I ALREADY READ IT. YOU CHARGED ME FOR A BOOK I ALREADY READ."
PoP: "That person is very loud."
Me: "Very. I have to go."
PoP: "Can you look up how much the old Watchmen issues are worth? I bet it's a bunch."
Me: "Sorry, the internet is down. I have no way of looking it up." This is a lie.
RC: "YOU CAN'T GIVE ME MONEY BACK BECAUSE OF THE INTERNET?"
Me to PoP: "Goodbye."
Me to RC: "I was talking to the person on the phone."
RC: "HE WAS ON THE PHONE FOR A VERY LONG TIME."
Me: "Yes, he was. Here's your twelve dollars. You can keep the bonus penny."
RC: "BUT IT'S NOT MINE."
Me: "It's my gift to you. Now, if you'll excuse me--"
The phone rings.
Same Person On Phone: "I meant to ask. Are Cerberus comics worth anything?"
Me: "Nope. You should burn them if your heat ever goes out."
Me: "Yea. I have to go. Bye again."
If I ever meet this caller in-person, he's going to end up wearing this phone in a very uncomfortable way.
The phone rings: "Hi. I stopped in a couple of weeks ago, and left a list of books for someone to look at."
Me: "Ok. The owner is the person who would have that list. He'll be in after three, and he can answer any of your questions."
Person On Phone: "I was hoping the list was somewhere in your store. I need some information from it."
Me: "Sure thing. If you call back after three, the owner can tell you more about the list."
PoP: "It's on a lined piece of paper could you--"
Me: "No. Definitely not. It's not here. Call back after three, and you can talk to the person you gave the list to."
PoP: "You're not even going to look for it?"
Me: "Nope. It's not here. Call back after three."
Caller mumbles and hangs up.
I am absolutely NOT going to look for a lined piece of paper that someone left in the store a couple of weeks ago. It's gone. It's like it never existed. You'd have better luck trying to find a gram of cocaine in an Alaskan snowbank.
Phone rings. Ominously.
Random Caller: Hey, do you have the Fantastic Four comic?
Me: Sure, we have a bunch.
RC: The one with the first appearance of Black Panther.
Me: Ooooh. I don't know. Let me check.
RC: Is it cover price?
I laugh. Because that's fucken funny.
Me: Noooo. If we have it, it's way more than cover price.
Me: Because it's worth a lot more than cover price.
RC: Well, I was hoping to get it for cheap because I hear it's going to be valuable.
Me: You're about thirty years late to get it for cheap. Even a torn up copy is worth fifty bucks. If it's in good shape, it's over a grand.
RC: Well, I was looking to pay about--
Me: We don't have it. And nobody is going to have it for under a couple hundred dollars.
RC: That's a rip-off, you guys sh--
Me: Well, that's the price that it sells for. Sorry if it's not what you're looking for. You can get the same story in a couple of different collections that run about $20-$40 but they're not ever going to go up in value, they're just for reading. So if you want to just read the story, you can do that. But if you want it as a collectible for cheap, you're going to have to find someone who has absolutely no idea how valuable it is. It's possible but very, very, VERY unlikely.
RC: Where could I get it for about five bucks?
I hang up the phone.
I am thoroughly unsurprised when someone that I've always found unpleasant (in this case, Mr. Goodie Box) decides to open a conversation with bizarre misogyny disguised as small talk.
I've got my iPod on shuffle, and Bonnie Raitt's "Real Man" is playing, and he opens conversation with "At least she's honest. You know before she takes all the guy's money."
Mr Goodie Box: "That's what they do. Women. They love you, they leave you, and they take all your stuff."
Me: "That happen to you a lot, does it?"
MGB: "Not me. But I hear things."
Me: "I bet."
Random Loiterer: "I love the X-Men, do you have any X-men books here?"
Me: "Of course. We have some issues over here, and some collections over--"
RL: "Oh, you have vintage comics! Man, I grew up reading these. I had every issue."
RL: "I think the only one I have left is #84. The first appearance of Silver Surfer. How much is that worth?"
Me: "Um. Well, #84 was a reprint. All the issues between 67 (I think) and 94ish were reprints."
RL: "No. 84 was the first appearance of Silver Surfer."
Google google google.
Me: "So, Silver Surfer's first appearance was Fantastic Four #48. Is that what you were thinking of?"
RL: "No. Look up X-Men #84."
Type type type.
RL: "Can I see the cover? Yea. There. The Silver Surfer."
Me: "That's Iceman actually."
RL: "Why is Iceman in an X-Men comic?"
Me: "Um. Well. He's one of the original X-Men. He was in almost every issue."
RL: "I don't remember him. I'm pretty sure that's The Silver Surfer."
Me: "It's not. They do look similar, but Silver Surfer rode a surfboard. Iceman created an ice slide. See?"
RL: "You're telling me that's not Silver Surfer?"
Me: "I am telling you that's Iceman."
RL: "When did Silver Surfer join the X-Men?"
Me: "As far as I can remember, he never did. I might be wrong. A bunch of characters have been in the X-Men or The Avengers for a couple of issues, but he was never one of the main characters in an X-Men book that I read."
RL: "Are space books valuable right now?"
Me: "There are some books that take in space that are popular right now, sure. Saga. Guardians of The Galaxy. Uhhh--"
RL: "What's bigger space or time travel?"
Me: "Well, space is infinite. We don't know if the same is true of time."
RL: "I mean in comics."
Me: "Space, I think. There are more dimension hopping stories than time travel right now."
RL: "Like" names a movie I've never heard of?
Me: "Maybe? I haven't seen it."
RL: "How do you work in a comic book store and you haven't seen" movie I've never heard of"?"
How did you grow up reading X-Men comics and not know Iceman was in the X-Men?
Me: "Just lucky, I guess."
RL shakes head and leaves.
Random Loiterer: "Do you guys have the Danzig comic?"
Me: "Henry & Glenn Forever? I think it's unavailable right now, but it's amazing."
RL: "The one that he writes?"
Me: "Oh. NO. I forgot he wrote a comic. We haven't ever carried..." google google type type "Verotika."
RL: "What's Henry & Glenn Forever?"
Me: "It's about Glenn Danzig and Henry Rollins' queer relationship, Glenn's sweet and overbearing mother, and their Satan-worshiping neighbors, Hall & Oates."
RL: "And...he...wrote that?"
Me: "Noooooooooooooooo. Glenn Danzig Hates It. But Henry Rollins thinks it's hilarious."
RL: "That sounds about right. So do you have it?"
Me: "It's unavailable right now."
RL: "Not Henry & Glenn. Do you have Verotika?"
Me: "No. Nor, do I imagine, will we. But as soon as Henry & Glenn is available, we'll have that."
RL: "Comics are weird. I'm going to go get a sandwich."
Regular Customer: Could I grab a plastic bag? My app says there's 100% chance of rain on my way home.
Me: 100%? That would mean it's raining now.
Looks out window.
RC: My app is my eyes.
Two Flat Capped Sullys came in to tell me that they've never read "comical books" before, but that we couldn't be one of the oldest "comical book stores" because DC opened the first comic book store back in World War II. They are pretty sure there was a DC store at the end of their street. In South Boston. But they never went in it because, SHOCKINGLY, neither of them read very much.
They referred to Saga as a "High End Japanese book." (It is a perfectly affordable book by two North Americans: An American and a Canadian.)
They walked around for about fifteen minutes, not even really picking anything up, but asking the usual Get The Fuck Out Of the Store Questions:
"What's your most expensive comic?"
"Is this your store? No? Do you read comics, then?"
"What kind of people buy comics?" "But they started when they were kiddies, right?" "Adults? Get Out Of Here. Adults read this crap?"
I hope some of Whitey Bulger's retired friends run over their fat, hairy, toes before the end of the week.
I feel like I should have a permit that allows me every week to kill one rich person who tries to get out of paying ten cents for a fucken bag. Particularly when they hear me explain the bag tax to the very nice, reasonable person in front of them, and then act shocked that the law also applies to them.
Random Rich Taint: "Well, he gave you a quarter and said to keep the change. That covers me."
Me: "No. That gets saved for children who can't quite afford their comics. If I don't charge you ten cents, we get fined."
RRT: "Well, that's ridiculous."
Starts to walk out of store.
Me: "It is. Which is why you still have to pay me ten cents."
RRT: "Sorry, I'm in a hurry."
Me: "I'll adjust your credit card then to cover it."
Me: "Really. I'm, not getting fined because you are in too much of a rush for the law."
And nobody would ever have to deal with him or his Maroon Sweatshirt again.
Because of Labor Day, my schedule is a little off, so I decide to make up the New Release Board today, but because it is somewhat busy, and I am by myself, instead of doing it over by the back issues, I clear off the counter and do it by the register.
A Random Loiterer comes up just as I've written down the month, and leans on the board, smudging the date that I just finished writing.
Me: "Please don't lean or put anything on the counter. I'm writing on this, and I don't want to have to start over later."
RL: "Of course."
He wanders around the store a bit, grabs a Humanoid book (which are the few books that don't have prices on them), plops it on the words I have just finished writing and asks "How much is this?"
Me: "29.99. Could you please not touch this board I'm writing on? This is the second time I've had to redo something because you put your book or your arm on something I just finished writing."
RL: "Of course."
He puts the book down, wanders around the store for five minutes, picks up another book, and walks toward the counter, putting the boo--
Me: "DON'T PUT YOUR BOOK ON THE BOARD."
--k in the middle of the board, smudging the entire thing.
RL: "Sorry. How much is this?"
Me: "A Thousand Dollars."
Me: "Really. Forty dollars for the book, nine hundred and sixty dollars because this is the third time I've had to start this over. Don't. Touch. The. Counter. Don't. Put. Your. Books. On. The. Board."
RL: "Sorry. I didn't know."
Actual Customer: "Dude, he told you at least three times."
RL: "I guess I wasn't listening."
Me: "Well, as long as you don't put anything on my board again, I'll discount the book back to $39.99"
RL: "Oh, I don't have any money with me. I'm just making my Christmas list."
He leaves, leaving the book on the board.
I wait until I see him walk by the window before saying "You get nothing you Naughty List Dwelling Motherfucker."
AC collapses with laughter into shelf, knocking over a Batwoman Action Figure.
AC: "Oh shit. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
Me: "It's cool. That was clearly an accident, and partially my fault. You're still on the Nice List."
AC: "That's not what my girlfriend's going to say if I come home with this book."