Thursday, June 5, 2008

Shop Talk

For the back page of the upcoming New York Times Book Review Leanne Shapton (former bookseller and author of Was She Pretty) drew sketches of booksellers at independent bookstores around New York City and asked them the following questions: "Have you ever kicked anyone out? Do you correct customers' pronunciation? What's the strangest thing anyone has left behind?"

In the hopes of having Ms. Shapton come to Brookline to sketch me I have taken it upon myself to answer her questions in advance.

Have you ever kicked anyone out? No. But my fear of doing so is exactly why I never wanted to become a manager. I have asked people who use their outside-voices while on their cell phones to please keep it quiet. The nasty-look versus embarrassed-grimace response is about 1:1.

Do you correct customers' pronunciation? No, but I put try to put them out of their misery as soon as I realize they're looking for books by J.M. Coetzee (by the way, it's kind of like this: cut-TSEE-uh). I do always smile bigger when I'm at the register and ask someone how they are and they reply with "well" rather than "good."

What's the strangest thing anyone has left behind? I can't think of anything really good at the moment but I can say that I haven't had to purchase an umbrella since I started working in a bookstore. Helpful hint if you get caught in the rain: ask at a bookstore if there are any spare umbrellas in the lost and found--it's a good bet you'll get lucky.

And to make this more interesting, my most awkward customer interaction (of late): I recently had a very odd exchange with a customer when I was at the register. She came up to me and gushed, "Has anyone ever told you you look just like Anne Frank? You look just like Anne Frank!" Er, no. But thank you?

On a pretty unrelated note:
This week's NYTBR reviews The Drunkard's Walk by George Johnson. Cool. Extra-cool? The illustrations for the review are by Jessica Hagy!

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