So I used to work at a bookstore that not only sold books, but sold many other used items such as computer games, videos, salt shakers in the shape of angels, that sort of thing.
In that, I got to witness how stupid people can be. The one of the most frequently asked questions we got as employees is "do you have any new items?" To which we say, "No, sorry, we only sell used items."
What we should say is "Well, let me see, there's a trade counter where people are bringing in used items, we have a huge metal sign that must have cost in the thousands that says "USED" above the store name, the word "USED" is in the store logo...hum, um, gee, I really don't know, that's a stumper there. Perhaps you would like to check out a book of puzzles approved by MENSA?"
In any case, the store mostly made its profit selling books. An endless amound of books. As a result of handling so many books, I noticed that certain types of people almost consistently buy certain types of books. For example:
Middle-Aged Women - Steamy Romance Novels
Old Ladies - Steamier Romance Novels
Attractive 18-20 year olds/Middle Aged women who try to look like attractive 18-20 year olds - New Age Books
Overly-Tan People with Whitened Teeth - Christian Books
Middle-Aged Men wearing loose clothing and beads - Eastern Religion Books
Middle-Aged men with presed shirts - Tom Clancy or W.E.B. Griffin novels
The place also sold porn. Tapes, magazines, DVDs, you name it. Usually the people who bought these are old, sunbeaten guys who reek of cigarette smoke. Sometimes it was young couples. In the case of the young couples, curiously, it is the woman who always bought it usually with a lot of giggling.
Another thing about the store is that there's a 7-day unconditional return policy on everything. Yep, unconditional. You can return a movie if it doesn't work, if you hate the movie or if the box color is the wrong hue of yellow.This also means you can, in fact, use the store as a convoluted sort of library. Find something you like, buy it, then take it back in less than a week for a full refund.
That included porn.
That's there the sunbeaten men would come in. They would buy porn one week, return it the next, get some more porn. They would always come in early sunday morning too. I guess they didn't have church to get to, but they did have some wanking to get in. I always made it a point to wash my hands a lot on those days.
Old ladies would also come in on the weekend and do something similar. They would return stacks and stacks of romance novels, then get more stacks of romance novels.
There was one old lady who was just blatant about it. Every week she would trade in a huge amount of books, some sixty dollars worth, and then get an equally huge amount of books. Nobody could quite tell me when she started bringing books in, just that she had always been there, like hydrogen.
She was polite about it, at least. She had the books all ready in a bag, receipt nicely folded, and would even help you put a rubber band around the returns so they are grouped together for restocking.
At least she's nice about her blatant abuse of the system. Some people just abused us. Actually, some would say the service industry is just another word for "abuse." There are some people who do take a certain---pride in in though. These are the type of people who I can see owning a lot of slaves in the 19th century, not just because they needed some plantation work done, but because they liked the idea of owning people.
I got one of those bastards one day. This old man walks up to the counter and demands, harshly "Gimme the phonebook!"
I'm usually used to someone saying "Could I use your phonebook?" in a nice tone, so this kinda threw me. Yet, it is my job to serve the customer, so I gave him the phonebook. He looked at it like I just offered him a tampon.
"Now, I'm looking for a book that tells me the prices of cars."
Unfortunately at the store we didn't have any sort of database of books we had on hand. I told him how we didn't have a database. I then explained to him that if we had a book like that, which I believe would be a KellyBlue Book, it would be in our automotive section.
"Bring them to me, I'm in a hurry," he says.
"Um, I'm not sure that we even have any," I said, "and if we did, we might have a lot, so it would help if you narrowed down the year."
"Just bring them to me!"
I let another person deal with this person at this point. It was one of those "Um, um...manager!" Moments.
As it turned out, we didn't have any books that he was looking for. Not that I felt bad for him.
Yet, an hour later Mr. "I'm in a hurry" is back in the store buying some novels about cowboys not fucking each other on the range. Fortunately I don't ring him up. While buying his stuff Mr. Hurry tells the cashier all about how he's a doctor and used to be in the Marines.
"Let me show you something I learned in the marines, " he says to my fellow cashier.
"What?" he replies.
"Just hold out your arm."
So, the other cashier does with a look of pure incomprehension. The man grips his arm in this strange hold and starts struggling. I should mention this man is about 5'6" probably weighing 100 pounds, and is probably just shy of 80 years of age. The old withered husk continues to do whatever strange kind of maneuver he was trying to pull off against the cashier to no avail. I should mention the cashier is about 6 foot tall and weighs maybe 300 pounds. I guess the man thought he was trying to do some sort of horrible death grip that would leave the cashier screaming in pain or something. Which, if he accomplished it, would do...what, exactly? Scare everyone? In any case, the man looked as he truly was, a pathetic old man pawing feebly at the cashiers gigantic arm.
After about fifteen seconds of this sad display, like a muppet with the mange, the cashier says, "What the heck are you doing?"
The old man stops and says "I don't know," and shrinks back, smaller than ever before. I would have felt bad if he had not acted so mean and weird earlier. I don't know, something about rude old men making demands then trying to incipacitate people with military training does not bring up a lot of sympathy in me.
I don't think I'll ever work at a bookstore ever again.