Oh dear, back to work today after a week of leisure and pleasure. After a mere few hours back in the bookstore I realise just how enormously unsatisfying working in the Borg cube of our individuality-is-irrelevant chain is. Not helped by a stream of incredibly stupid questions from customers.
For example I had a gentlemen show me two editions of a Graham Swift novel. One edition (both are paperbacks) is clearly marked as five pounds and ninety nine pence. The other is equally clearly marked as six pounds and ninety nine pence, but with a bright yellow sticker proclaiming “two pounds off.” What does our incredibly incisive customer ask? He asks which is cheaper. No, I am not kidding. And you thought we would only get smart customers in a book store, right? I am afraid we get plenty of people who have obviously just consumed a couple of retard sandwiches for their lunch. One to file with the customer who returned a book called Mexican Cooking because it wasn’t what she thought it was. Presumably she thought Mexican Cooking was actually a book about the wildlife of the Galapagos. Where do they come from? And why do they all bother me?
In order to find ways to deal with the working day we poor booksellers have to find ways to lighten the mood, to amuse ourselves. Making fun of customers and rubbishing their literary choices is one way (yes, we pass judgement on everything you buy). Today I found a new way to keep myself amused at work. I find an Asian tourist who is browsing some of our books and stand near to them then beginning coughing and sneezing. The look on their face is priceless. Yes, I know you are all thinking how sick I am, but just go on and try it. Those who work in areas of high tourism will enjoy it.