Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Friday, August 15, 2008

And while I'm thinking about it....

Here are two things you should never do to your friendly Customer Service Booksellers:

1.) DO NOT come into the store with no title and a scribbled author's name, which you're not certain you spelled correctly or how to pronounce, and tell me , "I have no idea what it is, I'm buying it as a gift." Buying it as a gift means nothing to me, as I don't care if you're buying it to use to line your hamster cage. It also doesn't make me any more motivated to help you, because you've given me nothing to work with. I am not Sherlock Holmes, although when given a challenge I do like to rise to the occasion. But recognize here that what you have given me in an instance such as this is NOT a challenge, but rather, an impossible conundrum. To wit:

Guy: I'm here to buy James M. Fry's new novel.
Me: Hm. I'm not sure I've heard of him. Let me look it up.
( I enter the name into our database. Nothing.)
Me: No, there isn't an author named James M. Fry listed here, and if his novel was new, I'm sure it would be. There's a James FREY ( prounouncing it "fray" like it's supposed to be pronounced)who has a new novel out. Is it that, perhaps?
Guy: ( shrugging like he could give a shit less) Could be.
Me: Do you have a title?
Guy: No.
Me: Do you have a topic, an idea as to what the book is about?
Guy: (irritated, as if I'm asking him too many questions ) NO. This is a gift, I don't know anything about it.
(Guy's Wife shows up.)
Me: Do YOU know anything about the book you're looking for?
Wife: Sure. It's by James Fry. F-R-E-Y.
Me: I was thinking that. There is a James Frey ( again, pronouncing "fray", as is correct) who has a new novel.
Wife: No. James FRY. James M. Fry, to be exact. He wrote a book on screenwriting, and now he has a novel.
( I look this up.)
Me: There is indeed a James FRY who has written on screenwriting. But he has no new novel. He has a recent non-fiction book about a psychic that came out in May.
Wife ( Looking at me like I'm an idiot) There's no James M. Fry?
Me: Apparently not. I'd lay money on this James Fry guy with the non-fiction book or the James Frey. Why don't I SHOW you the James Frey?
( I go get it)
This is the guy who wrote "A Million Little Pieces"? It was autobiographical but it was later discovered that some of it was false? He was on Oprah?
Wife: I remember that. ( Picks up book.) But is this a NEW novel?
Me: Yes.

However, this isn't good enough and we go back to the computer and REPEAT the entire sequence of events. Because, essentially, I am an idiot who works retail, knows nothing about books, even though THEY came in with essentially NO information and are becoming more and more irascible as I am unable to assist them. So finally:

Wife: (*sighing irritably*) I guess we'll have to CALL his WIFE and ask her. It's supposed to be a gift. (Glaring at me).
Me: (smiling pleasantly). If you find out more information, I'm happy to help.
( She looks at me like she'd rather let me give her a home perm than come back for help).

CUT TO: 30 minutes later, the couple is standing in line. With what? The James FREY book. I can't resist rubbing it in.

Me: (calling to them) Oh, so you found something! Was that the book?
Wife ( through gritted teeth): Yeah, this was it.

Yeah, I thought so. You thankless imbeciles.

2.) DO NOT come up to my desk and tell me you need a book on a certain topic, ( and then give me your life's story as to why and what you plan to do with the information ) and you had heard of one that seemed suitable ,but you left that scrap of paper at home and you're not sure what it is, and then when I try to find you ANYTHING comparable, get mad at me because I am not giving you the EXACT book you had in mind.

Woman: I want to sell some books on eBay. I had a title that I wrote down and I don't have it with me. I was just over at Macy's and I thought I'd stop in. It was a yellow book. I don't have the author, either. Do you have any books about selling books on eBay?
Me: Uh, well. That's really specific. I believe we have books about selling in general on eBay, would you like to see those?
Woman: (begrudgingly) Okay.
(I take her to the section)
Me: This is all about ECommerce. See? Several books on eBay, eBay for Dummies, stuff to get you going.
Woman: This is IT?
Me: Well, it's not so little. I'd imagine you'd find something useful.
Woman: You don't have anything on selling books on eBay?
Me: Not that I'm aware. When I typed those keywords into my computer I got nothing.
Woman: You don't have computers that CUSTOMERS can use, right?
Me: (shaking my head, knowing she thinks I'm an idiot).
Woman: (spying my name badge) What's your name?
Me: Jessica. You know, when you get home, why don't you give us a call and give us the information? We'd be happy to try and track it down.
Her: Yeah, right. But I'm here NOW.

Like, what the HELL am I supposed to do about THAT? You wandered in here unprepared, and, by your own admission, not having planned to, with NOTHING. I realize you're "HERE NOW", and while I'm trying to take advantage of that and sell you something anyway, you're obviously displeased with the choices. I cannot make the book you want magically appear, nor can I alleve you of your need to actually GIVE me information to assist you. And, as in the other case, your telling me you great need for this book or sob story or WHATEVER isn't going to make the book appear either. I suppose you feel it should motivate me somehow into trying harder, but it really doesn't make any difference, because a.) I work hard all day for everyone and b.) frankly Scarlett, I don't give a damn.

Here's the bottom line, people:
The world is not in service to your idiosyncratic needs and your particular circumstances. Yes, sometimes, rare things occur where the stars align and your needs can be met without much effort on your part other than showing up. But this is NOT generally how life works. Why? Because, contrary to your delusional thinking, the world does not revolve around YOU.
And believe it or not, I cannot make exceptions to the Laws of Science. I cannot read your mind, I cannot make what you want materialize when you want it. Finally, I cannot-- REPEAT-- CANNOT be expected to stop the world from spinning, customers from lining up, prices to lower to your budget, or publishers to do your bidding while I am trotting around like a trained pony in your every service.

In other words:
Get over yourself! Remember you live in a world with other people, and are sharing resources, including time and energy from people who are trying to help you. And fucking make an effort; don't be so helpless and lazy, and expect everything to handed to you on a platter. Finally, be nice for a change. It won't kill you.

Sometimes I think everyone needs to go back to childhood and relearn basic manners and tenets of reality. Because they sure aren't using them around here.