Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cry havoc...Black Friday is coming!

It's been quite some time since I updated, but I've been focusing on my musical endeavors lately. Seeing as how everyone in retail's favorite season is upon us, I thought it was time to pop back in......

It sounds so ominous...so horrific.....like something mothers warn their children about. "Don't go outside on Black Friday!" The real reason it's called Black Friday is because most retailers don't start making their sales plans until this day. Up to this point they've been below sales plan or "in the red" and on Friday they make lots of money and end up "in the black". History lesson over, let's delve into what Black Friday really is....

It's a feeding frenzy of consumerism. It's crowds, grouchy people, and chaos. Perhaps I'm too jaded and bitter seeing as how I have worked every Black Friday, save one (which was the best year ever), for the last 14 years. I get it, people want to save money, but chill the #@$% out! Fights break out, riots occur, and people have died.....DIED! Innocent people killed because of flat screen TVs and XBOX's.

They camp out all week! There are lines of people huddled in tents and sleeping bags around lots of stores already. They've been there since Sunday! There are stores opening on Thanksgiving now. That is just wrong.

Yes, I know not every customer is a crazed lunatic. There are lots of customers that understand the chaos and just go with it. Those ones are fine. It's the ones that expect to get everything they came for and not have to wait in a gigantic line that need a poke with a cattle prod.

For my fellow retailers, if this is your first Black Friday, here are some hints: (Comment with your own)

1. Get to work early. The parking lot may be horrendous, so give yourself plenty of time to find a parking spot and/or to ride a camel to the door because you had to park out in BFE. Most managers will not take, "I couldn't find a parking spot." as an excuse for tardiness.

2. Try to lessen your stress by wearing a festive hat if your dress code permits.

3. Bring your lunch from home or hopefully your store does a potluck/provided lunch. You don't really want to venture out to buy food. Good use of Thanksgiving leftovers.

4. If you encounter a grumpy customer, kill them with kindness. Try not to let what people say get to you. I know it's hard, but let it just roll off your back. If you need to, vent to your co-workers, blog about it, tweet it or update your facebook status about it.

5. The upside is that the day goes by pretty quickly. It'll be over before you know it!

Did you survive? Here's your reward...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Customer Tales Vol 1

Over this past holiday weekend, I encountered quite a lot of memorable customers. Some bad and some good. Here is a rundown...

Exhibit A

 "There's a customer here that would like to speak to a manager." Nearly the moment I stepped out of the break room to start my shift, this is the phone call I get. Great, so first customer of the shift is gonna be a complaint (they almost always are). What a way to start....really sets the tone. So, this guy is mad because he deleted an e-book off of his e-reader, but he didn't realize that meant it was gone from his whole library. He just wanted it off the device, not gone forever. Nevermind the fact that it prompts you with a warning that says, "Are you sure you want to do this??" Well, then he starts griping about how delete means one thing to him and one thing to us. Nevermind the fact that he should have read the damn instruction manual. Do not blame me for your lack of knowledge. So I get our e-book techies on the phone and explain the situation. They are gonna restore his book. The whole time the guy is still griping and complaining...loudly. The tech guy says he needs to speak to the guy to verify something and inside I am doing an evil laugh. Sure, you can talk to the guy.

So, for like the next 15 mins or so, the guy is complaining to the tech and then he complains to one of their supervisors. Meanwhile, this older woman had been waiting patiently behind him. After I handed him the phone, she asks me for help. While I'm looking up her book on the computer, she leans in and says, "What an asshole! I would have thrown his ass out by now, he shouldn't be allowed to speak to you like that." I am trying so hard not to laugh....that loud. I keep looking up her book. She keeps going, "He's just doing this for attention. I have a degree is psychology...I know." Oh, the sass of this woman. I love it! The guy starts getting loud again and she says to him, "Hey, can you be more quiet! I can't hear her!" I want her to stay in the store all the time. We should hire her, just to sit and read and be sassy. "If he keeps this up, I'll cuss him out for you. He's ugly as hell, too" I'm giggling while trying to help her now. "Stay with me, just stay with me, dear." Bless her heart, she is stalling so I can keep helping her! Can you be my grandma?

So, the guy gets some kind of resolution and goes away. "You need to wipe down the counter and the phone after that." LOL! I keep helping this fantastic woman and when I'm done she says she wishes she could stay longer and "protect me". She also said she used to be a police chief! SHE TAKES NO SHIT. Seeing as how she did not live in the area, I will most likely never see her again, but she will go down as one of my absolute favorite customers.

 Exhibit B

Guy on the phone: "Hi, I don't have an author or title, but can you search by a subject or keyword?"

Me: "I can try. Our keyword search engine is down at the moment, but I can see what I can do."

Guy on the phone: I'm looking for books on cuckolding.

Me: .....okay. (typing it into the search)

Guy on the phone: I don't know if you're familiar with the term, but it's when a your girlfriend or wife takes another lover and you watch. It's a great way to keep things exciting in a relationship.

(I had heard of the practice before, I just didn't know the technical term.)

 ****For those of you playing the home game, here is a further definition of cuckolding - "A cuckold fetishist is aware of his spouse's activity, most likely actively encouraging it, and derives sexual pleasure from it." It's also a form of masochism. While she's having sex with the other guy, her boyfriend is watching and she's telling the boyfriend how much better this other guy is compared to him. And the boyfriend is aroused by this humiliation. So ends my lesson.****

Me: Oh, well, I bet is. I'm not finding anything so far. (This is where I type "cuckolding" into Google. I would love to see the face of the person at corporate that monitors our internet history!)

Guy on the phone: Here's the thing, my ex-wife and I used to do it and I've got a new girlfriend now and I've been....craving it, I guess. I told my girlfriend about it and she seems really interested. I want to get her some more information. I'm sorry, that's probably TMI, huh? You're probably thinking I'm some kind of weirdo. 

Me: Well, they say you learn something new everyday. To be honest, this is the best phone call I've had all day! So far, I'm not finding any books just on cuckolding. We have a book on fetishes in general though and their are some e-books online on the subject. Nothing in print form though.

Guy on the phone: Well, I don't know if this is something you or your boyfriend would be interested in, but it's really exciting. As long as he's not the jealous type.

Me: Well, I'm married actually and it's not something I'd really thought about, but I thank you for the information and I hope you find what you're looking for.


Was that a proposition? Was he fishing for more partners? He didn't sound pervy. He was super nice and I didn't get that John Waters vibe from him. Whatever floats your boat, sir!

Exhibit C

I'm not even going to get into this because I'm still trying to recover from it. A woman told me that E L James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, writes in a similar style to Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. "She's a fantastic writer, I'd compare her to Austen and Bronte."

I died a little inside that day.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Crazy to the Third Power

I sincerely apologize for not updating the blog recently, but other things have taken up my time.....hmmmm, perhaps I will blog about that. Anyhow, let's get back to it, shall we? This is currently my 14th year of retail hell, so I've had some interesting customers over the years. These three are just the most recent oddballs. Also the fact that they all share the same first name boggles the mind. Apparently the name Charles means: one who is manly and strong. Riiiiiiggghhhtt. Not these ones.

Charles Cubed

Charles #1.....aka "Burpy" Charles.....aka MY NEMESIS! Usually, I am pretty patient with people. I can keep my composure on the outside and smash a brick into your skull on the inside. "Burpy" Charles pushes that ability. He makes a vein appear on my forehead that is not usually there. I should perhaps explain why I have dubbed him "Burpy". He burps.....randomly.....in the middle of sentence.....while he is talking to you. He is an oily, sweaty, pig of a man. We rejoiced when he moved out of state! You should have seen my face when I spotted him back in the store. He can be belligerent and rude at times. I feel really bad when a new person gets stuck trying to help him. Someday, I truly....truly feel I will shove a pencil into his eyeball.

And the staff will build a statue in my honor.

Charles #2....aka "Pervy" Charles. This Charles I don't usually have the pleasure (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) of helping because he spends most of his money in the DVD department. He earns the moniker "Pervy" because he likes to watch movies with naked women. Not porn, but movies where an actress shows off her Talent and Ability, if you get my drift.

He has his own lists of movies written down, all coded to denote what gets shown off in said movie. T = tits, etc. He has no qualms about letting you know his disappointment when he expected to see a certain body part and it was not the case. "Pervy" Charles really is a nice guy. He is a self-admitted "Dirty Old Man" but it is kinda sweet to see him get a bit choked up when he's praising the service he gets in our DVD department because they help him find his skin flicks. ;-)

This is his bible.

Charles #3....aka "Math" Charles. I speak to Charles nearly every shift I work, sometimes several times. He always wants obscure, high level math books and the occasional kung-fu book. Which leads me to think he is some sort of savant with a black belt. He doesn't interact very well with others. If he doesn't like you, he will let you know or he will let someone else know. I am usually his first choice to help him, so he gets fidgety if I'm not there or one of his other "approved booksellers" aren't there. Lately, he's been wanting math books in other languages. He thinks I speak French because I pronounced a French title to his liking! The other day he began a sentence with, "When you speak Chinese, April, how do...." The only Chinese I know is what Kai-lan has taught me (Ni Hao!).

Some other notable moments:
 - While he was in the store, he started doing what I can only describe as a "Neo dodging bullets in the Matrix" move. Followed by a tossing around of an imaginary football. 
- Another in-store moment, there was another customer waiting behind him. After that customer was helped, Charles leaned in and asked me, "Does that man have a history of being mentally unstable?"
- Someone put it in Charles' head that his phone may be bugged because the line kept getting static.
- Telling someone they had a baboon butt. 

Whenever I help Charles, I think to myself that maybe he is secretly a millionaire with no family and in his will, he will leave me lots of money because I was so great at helping him. I also think that if he ever snaps and goes on a mass killing spree, I will be spared. Dane Cook explains it well....even though "Math" Charles is not a co-worker...


Friday, May 25, 2012

Everyone Poops....On the Floor.


Gentle reader, you may be asking yourself why I'm blogging about shit, in the literal sense. I felt compelled to record, in writing, the various experiences I have had with this particular subject at The Bookstore. You know for posterior...uh... prosperity's sake. These are the stories that I wait a few weeks before telling any new hires, just in case they decide that it just ain't worth minimum wage.

Incident the First

There was a woman who was standing in line at the cash registers who had apparently eaten some chili that was laced with PURE EVIL because she left a trail from the line to the bathrooms. Thankfully, they are near the cash registers. Of course, now there is um....something brown on the tile and carpet. While I and another brave soul, try to clean off the carpet, this poor woman has barricaded herself in the bathroom. I felt bad for her, I really did. Her pants, obviously, are ruined and she can't leave the safety of the bathroom, which ain't a pretty sight either after she was done. Bless her heart, much of it she cleaned herself. Mall security was called in order to find her daughter who was wondering the mall and sans cell phone.

Incident the Second

This one I was not present for. Which saddens me in a morbid way, because it's just so outrageous. An older man had a "blow-out" if you will. Those of you with children will understand. The damage was apparently so extensive that he took off his pants and underwear and left them in the bathroom trashcan. Then he walked through the store, into the mall, and in the direction of Sears. Yep. Nothing but a shirt and a smile. Okay, I doubt he was smiling, but still. He must have been a ninja because no customers complained about a half-naked man traipsing through the store. Or they just didn't give a damn.

Incident the Third

This one puts all the other poop stories to shame. It began with the words, "April, come smell this." Never a good conversation starter. Oh look, something brown and squishy on the floor. It couldn't possibly be, could it? Oh look, there's more over here.....and over there....and down that aisle......and on that shelf.......and inside the music department.....OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!!!

There was shit everywhere.....EVERYWHERE I TELL YOU!

Not only are we trying to clean it off the floor, we are trying to prevent other customers from stepping in it!! We were not always successful. No, that's not dog poop you just walked in, ma'am, here let me disinfect your shoes. Took nearly two hours to clean up. Afterwards, seeing as how we have cameras in the music department, we checked the video to see who our pooper was. It was a woman in a skirt, who just seemed to randomly walk the aisles leaving a lava flow in her wake. How do you not feel that coming out of you and down your legs?? And you know what?? I recognized her! She had walked past me as I was scrubbing the carpet. Bitch made eye contact! If I had known at the time, I would have rubbed her nose in it and said "No!"

Honorable Mention
In the middle of our main pathway through the store was found a dirty maxi pad. Did it fall out?? WTF.

So, next time you are at The Bookstore and go to sit on the carpet, remember these stories and go find a chair.

For more potty humor, I suggest the following: http://www.fart-sounds.net/perfect_dump.htm

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fifty Shades of Smut

Don't know what to get Mom for Mother's Day?

Well, here it is folks. My inevitable post about Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I had thought about reading the book first before blogging about it, but I just can't wait. I also don't think I could make it through the whole thing without stabbing a pencil into my eye.

Those at The Bookstore know that I have a knack for finding ridiculously smutty romance novels and holding my own storytime for my fellow booksellers. (I read aloud the back cover and if its really good - a random page.) This book I didn't have to seek out hidden among the stacks. I knew it was coming because it has caused such a media frenzy. In the weeks leading up to its publication in physical book form, women (and men) were asking everyday, "Do you have that Fifty Shades of Grey book?" Now, we have always had smutty and erotic romance novels in stock. What makes this book so special that it garnered such media attention? So it's about BDSM - there's nothing new about that! (Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty Trilogy anyone?) Is it because it started out as a Twilight fanfic?


Let's examine that little fun factoid, shall we? It was a Twilight fan fiction...names and some other details were changed for obvious legal reasons, but this was Bella/Edward kink! I blame the Twilight Moms. Okay, I don't know if they really are to blame, but I need to pin it on someone and they are as good a scapegoat as any. Sorry, Twihards, but that pretty much ruined it for me. I was curious about this smutty book that was gaining such popularity, but then I learned the ugly, ugly truth. (I feel obliged at this point to toss in a "Harry Potter Rules!!'") There's nothing wrong with fan fiction, mind you. I'm just not a fan of Twilight fan fiction. There are loads of well-written fan fiction out there, you just have to wade through all the crappy ones to get to them.

Grandma is ready for her book club meeting!

So who's buying this book? It's being labeled "mommy porn" which just conjures up visions of Stifler's mom. Women of all ages are coming in for this book. Old ladies are giggling over it for crying out loud. There are book clubs discussing it. Old men are coming in for it. (Remember my buddy and his escapades?) I like the customers who try to hide it at the register between other books. "Oh, how did that get there?" We will see it because we have to scan it and yes, you are being silently judged by the cashier.

As stated, I have not read the book, but from the bits here and there that I have read, I don't think it is well-written at all. Dialogue is repetitive and the one sex scene I did read could have been written by a 12-year-old. "Oh, baby." "Geez..." "Holy shit." Who the fuck says "geez" in the middle of an erotic scene? Sorry...moving on. Here are some links to two reviews, one positive (http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com/2012/04/book-review-fifty-shades-of-grey-by-e-l.html ) and one negative (http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/f-reviews/review-fifty-shades-of-grey-by-e-l-james/). I give the author props for getting her work published, regardless of how I feel about the material. She has a book out, I don't. It's like when you're at a concert and the opening band is crap. Say what you want, but that shitty band just opened for Megadeth...where's my band? If you want to read it, go ahead and buy it. I'm a bookseller by profession and I will be the last one to stop you, but I also won't blame you if you return it. ;-)

I will conclude by talking about two other smutty works that I have read simply because the plot was too ridiculous to pass up. In other words, they were read for shits and giggles. (I love that phrase, don't you?)

"Welcome to the world of the Harvester—a warrior bound to take virginity, but never pleasure—and the servant who exists to prepare him for his role. For them, sex equals duty. Until the rules fall aside...and pleasure takes over. . ."
Forgive my crassness. His name is Chur and his sole purpose is to pop your daughter's cherry. It's a big festival and young girls are lined up before him all dressed up for the occasion. Then he's in, he's out, and you get on with your life. There's lot of sex and Chur eventually finds romance. From what I've read of Fifty Shades, this is better written. This saucy book was given to a new home by way of a Secret Santa present.

"She was to be the filling in a Wizard Sandwich. For a millennia, the Covenani Sorceresses of planet Sentmar have been separated from the Cauldaran Wizards, their natural mates. Deceit and blood have forced a reunion; destiny and passion have forced a bond. Brianna, youngest of the Princesses of Covenani, will be a consort to two handsome, virile Wizards. Will the union be forged in desire and love, or will she deny the union, as well as the two men who are bound to her, hearts and souls?"

"She was to be the filling in a Wizard Sandwich." Best. Tagline. Ever. By the grace of Aphrodite, this literary masterpiece ended up in our clearance bin and it was a no brainer. The writing in Wicked Harvest was better and there was a lot more sex in that one. I mean, by the gods, the wizard sandwich didn't even occur until Chapter 14!! I didn't even finish the whole book. Still.....Best. Tagline. Ever.  


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Everything's Coming up Zombies!


Let's face it...zombies are everywhere now. Not literally everywhere, mind you, because that would mean the zombie apocalypse is upon us and I don't have nearly enough ammo...yet. Zombies have been around a while, like vampires and werewolves, but they've seen an increase in popularity in the last couple years. Books, tv shows, movies, and video games....zombies are getting into everything.

 Somehow at The Bookstore, I've become the go-to gal for zombie paraphernalia. I really need to put up my zombie display again, now that I think about it. People come in and ask "Where are your zombie books?" Sadly, we do not have a zombie section. They are scattered all over, but I can point most of them out to you.

This book, in my opinion, really got the zombie lit genre going - The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. I remember when this book first came out I kept it at the register with me and tried to sell it to every customer. I sold all the ones we had. Of course, when I told them that he is Mel Brooks' son it helped. It's in his blood, people! On a side note, I am still upset that the day he just walks into the store and signs all his books, I am not working!!

I'm not sure why I prefer zombies over vampires and other "movie monsters". Think of how terrible it would be to see your dead loved ones as mindless, flesh eating, zombies. I'll be honest with you, I've had nightmares about such things. They are just morbidly fascinating.

I'll leave you with the latest zombie trend....adding zombies to anything and everything. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson are two of my personal favorites. So how about classic movies???

Titanic: The Ship of Zombies

The Zombie of Oz

Casablanca: The Zombie Collector's Edition

Now, go watch The Walking Dead!!!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Damnit Jim, I'm a Bookseller, Not a Therapist!

I don't know if it's like this for other retailers or salespeople, but I've notice through the years that customers tend to be very open about personal business with their booksellers. It could be that they feel the need to validate whatever kind of book they're looking for or they need reassurance. It has lead to some awkward moments however, because, like the title of this post says, I'm not a therapist. Do they tell their neighborhood grocer about these same things? Here are some of my personal stories and feel free to share any you have.

  • We have customers all the time that have books shipped to someone who is in prison. Wives sending to husbands, girlfriends to boyfriends, and mothers to sons. A mother wanted my help in selecting some self-improvement and inspirational books for her son. As I made some suggestions, she starts telling me that it isn't really her son's fault that he's in jail. He got in with a bad crowd, made some bad choices. She said that they got him into drugs. My gosh, she was on the verge of tears. I've never had to deal with a crying customer, but thankfully she pulled herself together. I did my usual "smile and nod" maneuver and that seemed to suffice. 

  • Then there was the time I nearly dissolved into tears. A woman came in looking for books on grieving the loss of a child. We didn't have that many, but they all seemed to be geared toward the mother. She was looking for something for the father. As I'm searching the database, she tells me that she wants this for her husband because he is having a hard time dealing with the loss of their baby. I express my condolences and then she says that they had twins, but only one survived. It took all I had to: a. Not hug this woman as we stood in the center of the store. b. Burst into sobs. 

  • Some customers make me shake my head, like the man who wanted books about cooking with marijuana. He adamantly told me that he was not a druggie or addict. He took it for medicinal purposes. He even took out his medical marijuana card to prove it. He kept repeating it over and over. What you do is your own business! I just sell you the book!

  • This happened just yesterday...Everyone is talking about this book called "Fifty Shades of Grey". (It's a Twilight fan fic with the names changed, people!! Sorry.) This older man called up the store and said he was looking for two books. First one was a political book that we had in stock. Then he asked for "Fifty Shades of Grey." It doesn't come out until 4/3. After informing him, I made some sort of remark about how everyone wants this book and that it apparently is "quite the saucy read." On a side note, I must say that "saucy" is a great word to use in everyday conversation. It's just fun to even say out loud. "Saucy!" Did you say it out loud? I'm digressing, I apologize. This man goes on to say that he heard the book contains bondage scenes and that he may be an old man, but he's had some experiences in his life - experiences with bondage. He wasn't too sure about it at first, he told me, but that's what these women wanted and it turned out it was a good for both of them. Are we really discussing your sexual escapades?? As George Takei would say, "Oh my."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wanna Know What Happens to Your Application?

For the unfortunate souls who never had someone sit them down and discuss the proper way to fill out a job application or how to dress or act when picking up and/or dropping off said application this is what really happens when your app goes "on file".

It goes into a veritable nether world of rejected apps. They will never again see the light of day until they are shredded a year later. You know that place your missing socks from the dryer go to? Or that hole in the desert where those old E.T. video games are buried? Kind of like that.

But before the application makes it that far, it goes through a screening process that includes, but is not limited to, pointing; giggling; ridicule; head shaking; and being passed around so other employees can also partake of the pointing; giggling; etc. Of course now there is new place your app may end up before being tossed into the filing cabinet of no return...


Position: "Fixing books" That's a first for me. I give them points for giving me something new.
Salary Desired: "$650.00" Is that a week? Per hour? I too desire this magical salary.
Don't get me started on the availability. Toward the top it also appears that under age they started to check 17, but then realized they were 18. 

You couldn't estimate a number? A while? So boys and girls, let's see how we did. Pointed - check! Giggled - check! Ridiculed - check! Shake head - check! 

I know this may all seem rather mean spirited, but I guarantee you every retail store does this in some form or another. I know of applicants at other retailers who get tossed into group interviews simply for shits and giggles! Are we horrible people? Possibly, but retail does that to you. We have to find the humor in every little thing to keep from losing what little bit of sanity we have left. 

If you want to read more horror stories about applicants, I suggest checking out an excerpt from The Bloggess' upcoming book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened. She used to work in Human Resources and she shares some of her experiences. Hilarious! I look forward to reading the whole thing when it comes out next month. Here's the link : http://thebloggess.com/2012/03/excerpt-of-lets-pretend-this-never-happened-a-mostly-true-memoir/ 

Another piece of advice: Don't wear your "F**k Authority" t-shirt when you drop off your application.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mall Fashion or Signs I'm Getting Old

I've worked in a mall for the last 13 years and I've seen more butt crack than I have ever cared to. Big ones, small ones, some as big as your...you get the picture. Nothing brightens my day more than turning a corner into the Bargain section and seeing someone's ass. I don't want to see it nor do I want to see the top of your thong either!

Just say no.

I also don't understand the tiny jean shorts with the pockets hanging past the cut. It seems very tacky to me and the first thing that pops into my mind when I see girls wearing them is trailer trash. I don't mind the jean shorts without the pockets hanging down and if you have the figure for it. I myself rocked the Daisy Dukes from time to time back in the day.

They're escaping!

The surest sign that I'm getting old is how often I mutter under my breath about someone's hair. I say things like, "What the hell are you thinking?" and "Why did your mother let you out of the house looking like that?" Things I know my mother said about me, my brother, and I'm sure my peers. We had huge bangs, crimped hair, and ponytails everywhere but the back of our head. My brother sported a giant spiked mohawk that changed color all the time. I understand now the anxiety my mother felt when we had to drive my brother somewhere and people would stare.

Awesome bangs plus a perm!

Now, I see kids with hair hanging in front of their eyes like a shaggy dog or spiked up on all sides like they just stepped into a wind tunnel. There's one guy that I see all the time with long hair that he manages to tease up and hairspray off the back of his head to epic proportions. I wish I had a picture of him. Some days he looks like Blanka from Street Fighter and other days like Londo from Babylon 5. Sometimes he's with friends who all have their hair done the same way! His hair is clearly the biggest so I guess that makes him the Alpha or whatever. I'm all for freedom of expression and all that jazz, but I just don't get it. I somehow think Jersey Shore is to blame. I think they're to blame for a lot of things.

Blanka & Londo

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Geeks: The Next Generation

My daughter just turned 7 and over the years I've experienced several, what I call, "geek parent" moments with her. These little moments make my geeky self proud. Let's start at the very beginning. To be perfectly honest, her name has a geek origin.

Recognize her? If you do, greetings fellow gamer. If not, let me introduce you. That is Cammy from the video game series Street Fighter. There, I've come clean. My daughter is essentially named after a video game character. While playing the game, I always thought that Cammy would be such cute nickname for a daughter. That lead me to Camylia, which can be shortened down to Cammy, though we tend to spell it Camy. She does not have blonde hair though.

Here are some other "geek parent" moments:

  • When she was about 2 or 3 years old I asked her, "Where does Captain Picard live?" and she pointed to the large picture of the Enterprise hanging on the wall. Yes, we have a picture of the Enterprise in our living room...it also lights up. Nearly brought a tear to my eye.

  • There was another time when I asked what we should watch and she said, "I want to watch Star Trek." Tears again.

  • Through the wonders of late night public television she has discovered He-Man and She-Ra, so she wields her plastic sword and cries, "For the honor of Greyskull!" I dug out some of my old She-Ra dolls and gave them to her.

  • When given the choice between a Build-a-Bear Happy Meal Toy or a Star Wars one, she chose Star Wars. She also has a "light saber" toy that she told her friends at school about prompting an argument over whether or not girls can like Star Wars. Camy said she told the boys that Star Wars is indeed for girls too. Hell yes, young padawan!  

  • Anytime she sees me watching a tv show or movie that looks remotely medieval or fantasy-like her first response is, "Are you watching Lord of the Rings again?" She doesn't quite have the patience for those movies yet, but she does like the earlier Harry Potter movies.

  • Lastly, she plays a mean Mario Kart Wii. She's not quite as ruthless as I am with the turtle shells, but she can kick butt as Princess Peach on a Mach bike.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Where is Your Bathroom?

Public bathrooms aren't exactly my favorite place to be, unless they're the really posh ones with couches, lotions, and an attendant. I dislike the ones at The Bookstore even more so because I have to clean them and the customers that use them are, shall we say, messy. But every now and then, they can be a source of hilarity. If you hear me laughing maniacally from inside the bathroom, you might not want to come in. I may be laughing to keep from crying. Although, if you hear me giggling like a ten-year-old, that means I will invite you in and force you to look upon whatever the bathroom gods have gifted us.

Have you ever walked into a stall and seen that someone has not flushed the toilet? Or perhaps it is because whatever came out of their backside will not fit down said toilet? I always wonder what the hell that person ate. They should have left a note. 

                               Dear Fellow Bathroom User,

                               I apologize for the Redwood tree in the toilet. I tried 
                               everything but the toilet just couldn't handle it. A 
                                word of advice - don't eat (insert random stool-hardening,
                               constipation-inducing food from hell) from the food court.
                                                                                 Save yourselves!   

If you can spot the customer walking rather uncomfortably through the store, you've found the culprit. Honestly, there are times I've wondered how such things left behind didn't cause them to let out a blood chilling scream. Some of them are inhumanly large. There was one such incident where I swear a horse used our bathroom because what I saw could not have possibly come out of a human being....and it looked like they had eaten hay. Yeah.

I really love it when a customer says to me, "Your ladies room is in need of attention. It's horrible in there!" Without fail, as I'm walking to the bathroom, this scene is playing in my head:

Daddy Day Care

I walk in expecting total chaos and almost always find just a piece of paper on the floor. I'd like to see those people's reactions to when there really is poo on the walls. Yes, I know it's part of our job to keep the restrooms clean, but that doesn't mean it gives you the right to forget all common decency. If you drop paper on the ground, pick it up and put it in the trashcan. If your child makes a mess on the toilet seat, clean it up. I could go on for days....

I will conclude with a funny story that happened to me in our bathroom just the other day. I entered the stall and set my name badge and portable store phone on top of the toilet paper dispenser. I sat down to do my business. (In case you didn't know, women sit on the toilet unless they're one of those ones that like to hover.) I reach over to pull down some toilet paper and the front cover of the dispenser pops open, whacks me in the face and sends my eyeglasses flying. Ow. I put the cover back up and finish. I grab my name badge and go wash my hands. After washing, I realize something is missing.

Where is the phone?

In my pocket? No. On the floor in the bathroom stall I was in? No. In the other stalls? No. In the trashcan? No. By this point, I'm starting to lose my mind and question myself. Did I really bring the phone in here? There was no way it fell in the toilet, right? It's too big. There were a few seconds of what-ifs. I checked the office where I was prior and the phone is not there. Finally, I go back into the stall and open up the toilet paper dispenser and there it is.

Sanity restored...well...for now.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Adventures in Bookselling

I've noticed these "What I Actually Do" memes popping up all over and I simply had to make one that reflected how I feel at The Bookstore some days. Here is an explanation of my picture choices:

What my friends think I do: My close friends have heard enough of my horror stories to know how it really is at my work, but more casual ones may not. General consensus always seems to be that because I work surrounded by books that I must read them all day long. I hear it from customers all the time. "Must be so nice to work here! You get to read all these books." Uh...no.

What my parents think I do: I always have a feeling that my parents think my job is a lot more glamorous than it really is.

What society thinks I do: Aside from reading all day, most of society seems to think I'm there to pick up all the books they've pulled off the shelves and made a fort out of in our cafe. On the plus side, years of lugging stacks of books all over the place will strengthen your arms. Next time you're in a bookstore, check out the "guns" on those booksellers. Oh yeah.

What my boss thinks I do: Most of the people up in the corporate offices have never actually worked in a bookstore. They've never been in the trenches, as it were. "Well, why isn't this getting done?" they ask. Because I've been napping in the Fiction section. Forget the 20 other things I have to do, I'm taking a nap!

What I think I do: Bookstore - The Musical. Dancing and singing among the stacks of books a la Belle from Beauty and the Beast. This is what sometimes goes on in my mind as I'm working. Come on, I can't be the only one who thinks that the world would be a happier place if we all just broke out in spontaneous musical numbers.

What I actually do: It wasn't always this way, but let's face it, at least once a day I make that face. It's usually after seeing the fort of books someone built around a cafe table or dealing with a customer who can't understand why they can't return something they bought 3 years prior or cleaning the bathroom. 

Sometimes, I actually do sell books. My favorite part has always been helping someone find a new book to read. Not just being told a title and taking them to the shelf, but actually suggesting a book or author they may not have heard of. The best part is when they come back and tell you how much they loved the book you recommended. So among the crap (sometimes literally) I have to put up with, there are moments where I still love what I do.     


Friday, March 9, 2012

My Crazy Obsession

Since there is a TV show of the same name and it is a trending topic on Twitter, let's go with this as a blog subject.

Obsession - the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.

I'll admit I have obsessions. Not as bad as some of the people featured on the show, but obsessions that sometimes effect my life. Let's go with Nightmare Before Christmas...

This primarily affects my wallet and to another extent my living space. Stick Jack Skellington's face on something and I will want to buy it. I have gotten much better recently at controlling my urges, but it is hard. Especially at Disneyland, where there is a whole store devoted to it! I've got clothing, purses, figurines, several incarnations of the soundtrack and the movie, plush, and dishware!

The thing is I don't even know when it started! Maybe that's the thing about obsessions - you are waist deep into them before you even realize it. I honestly believe that if I ever meet Tim Burton or Danny Elfman I will have a complete fangirl meltdown. That would be my Beatles moment. I fear security may need to be called.

                                          My favorite one of my collection.

I have other obsessions because why have just one, that's no fun!

Harry Potter. I don't own quite as many Harry Potter collectibles as I do Nightmare, but I have a lot. I've dressed up as a Hogwarts student (Slytherin House, ftw) and as a professor. I've had heated debates with people that think that Harry Potter leads kids to the devil. So much so that I've had to walk away before I completely lost it. Let's not forget the fanfiction! I believe that how much I'm into something is directly proportional to how much fanfiction I read.

I wonder what makes me throw myself so passionately into certain things. Is there something in my personality that makes me different? Perhaps, it is that I make my obsessions known, while others keep it hidden. I will say that it is a wonderful feeling when you find other individuals who share your obsession. There is another silver lining to having obsessions - everyone knows what kind of gift to get you.      

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So I've got a blog now...


I've decided to start a blog to house my rants, crazy ideas, and geek-outs. There will be no rhyme or reason as far as topics go, but as you can probably tell from the title of my blog, the bookstore (aka work aka seventh circle of hell aka you get the picture) will be a prominent feature.

First off, I needed a name for my little soapbox. Couldn't just call it "April's Blog" now could I? How about "April and Her Quest to Get Out of Retail" ? Nope, too long. In the end, I decided to go with a question I get asked quite often at The Bookstore, "Where is Non-Fiction?". To an outsider, you may think that this question is a perfectly valid one. To those who have known the joys of working in a bookstore, you know how annoying this question is.

Let me explain.

Most of The Bookstore is made up of non-fiction books. So the answer to that question is this:

Of course the real answer does vary. You could be responded to any number of ways.

  • "What subject are you looking for?"
  • "Most of the store is non-fiction."
  • "Well, there's some over there." points "Some more over there." points another direction
I do worry about society when after I've asked what specific subject within non-fiction they are looking for, I am told, "I just need non-fiction." You are on your own then.