Funniest. Bookstore. Story. Ever.

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Funniest. Bookstore. Story. Ever.

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1abductee
Ago 11, 2006, 11:05pm

I initially posted this story in a duplicate "bookseller/bookstore employee" group I formed, but I thought I'd put it here (since I deleted that group)...

We all have stories to share about our most hilarious experiences on the clock, and so here is one of my favorite moments that I had while working at a (larger chain) bookstore:

One of the workers, who was usually a pretty serious guy, got onto the PA (public address) system and announced, "There is a car in the parking lot..."

The employees, more attuned than customers to paying attention to the store broadcasts, were waiting to hear the make/model, color, and license plate number of some car with it's lights on.

But that was the end of the message. As it started to set in on each of us, everyone couldn't stop laughing.

2kidsilkhaze
Nov 8, 2006, 12:14am

My favorite was during the Christmas season...

There were 5 CDs on shuffle, including a Raffi album that contained "up on the housetop", sung with small children. It has a million verses.

Well... y'all know how quickly you tune Christmas music out... it wasn't until a customer complained that we realized someone had bumped the CD player and "Up on the Housetop" had been playing on repeat for the last 90 minutes!

3historycycles Primeira Mensagem
Mar 10, 2007, 3:45am

A customer came into the store one day, and browsed several sections, then approached the register with a book he wished to purchase.

The cashier rang the book up and informed the customer of the price with tax. The fellow rummaged through his pockets, only to find he didn't have enough money.

He then set down the bag he had under one arm, unbuckled his belt, dropped his trousers, reached back into his underwear and pulled out a soggy $20 bill and handed it to the cashier- who took the bill between the tips of two fingers and dropped it into the register drawer. As soon as the customer left, he ran (making strange gurgle-screaming sounds) back to the restroom where he washed his hands for the next ten minutes. He returned and informed me that he would continue to work at the register, but refused to take any more "butt-money."

4lilithcat
Mar 10, 2007, 10:10am

> 3

dropped it into the register drawer

Oh, nice for the next person working the register!

5willkilby
Ago 31, 2007, 6:56am

Well, nothing too crazy has happened, we do get our share of freaks in the bookstore I work in. All of the staff are a bit eccentric as well, fun enviornment for all. We mostly get the romance readers, the mystery/suspense readers. Occasionally the horror/true crime/scififantasy readers. The only two stories I can recall either hearing about or being a witness to are a girl bringing her pet iguana to the store and this strange woman who was obsessed with our erotica section and was looking for books on a**l sex. Mind you she blurted this out in the middle of the store. My manager politely informed her that we didn't have any specific books on that topic at the time. Fun.

6texichan Primeira Mensagem
Nov 17, 2007, 5:24pm

Oh boy. The "butt-money" - how classic.

At my store, we buy books as well as sell them. People bring in books, leave them with us, then we call the customer up to the buy area to give them an offer. The other day a customer named Skip sold books to us.

"Skip, to the buy area. Skip, please, to the buy area."

Two of the employees from opposite ends of the store (rather large store), not knowing that the other one had the same thing in mind, skipped all the way to the front of the store - about ten feet away from the front of the buy area, they saw each other and doubled over laughing. It was pretty cool.

7lategray
Maio 14, 2008, 2:49pm

Customer: Your other store sent over a book to put on hold for me.

Me: What's the book?

Customer: 'I Was Told There'd Be Cake.'

Me: I see. So you were told there'd be 'I Was Told There'd Be Cake'?

Ba-dum-bum!

(It's funnier out loud. Try it!)

8kingkama
Maio 16, 2008, 11:06pm

Another 'cake' story involved the book A Piece of Cake by Derek Robinson but the event took place at a library: My first public library position, I was assigned front desk duty to answer reference questions and readers advisory. The desk was actually very tall and long and there was a display table in front featuring new titles. A patron passed by the desk and informed me that there was 'a piece of cake' on the floor. Why was there cake in the library I wondered and preceded to get the cleaning bucket, broom, and mop from the janitor's closet (entering the janitor's closet and using cleaning supplies was risky due to the Janitor who coveted everything in his closet and kept account and had no problem confronting the unsanctioned users...but that's another story), cursing to myself the entire time. When I got to the desk, I saw no evidence of cake on the floor but a book had fallen and I picked it up and just had to laugh. I have not thought of this in years until I saw the amusing post by Leah.Hannah. Thanx.

9dodger
Maio 17, 2008, 1:26am

Ahhh, where to begin? First, along the lines of the first post, a co-worker of mine was taking a call from someone who'd left their notebook behind. He checked the lost and found and in attempting to pick up the phone and ask the caller about their notebook, he instead activated the intercom asking the entire store, "What color's your notebook?"

My favorite recent moment was from a Cell Phone Chatter. You know, the people who can't put someone on hold long enough to purchase their books. This Chatter walked up to the register with his phone firmly planted to his ear jabbering away and I thought, Oh great, another one of these guys. But I soon realized that this was no ordinary Cell Chatter; this one was talking to his bookie!

"What's the line on Cleavland?" he said. "Okay, give me that one, too. Uh-huh ... thanks, Mike."

And the best part? He was purchasing two gambling magazines!

#3, ewwww. Okay, there's one reason to always use a credit or debit card.

#6, lol, really. I can say with certainty that if that happened in my store, at least two of us would have skipped to the buy area. Let's hear it for co-workers with great senses of humor, eh?

10dodger
Maio 17, 2008, 6:44pm

Oh yeah, and then about a week ago, I had the lady who walked up and asked me for "the book about the guy who created the pink flamingo". I honestly didn't know if I should take her to the Bibles or to the evolution and science section.

As it turns out, she was looking for a book about the guy who started the business of placing pink flamingos in yards, but for a brief moment it was the strangest question I'd ever been asked.

11simside
Maio 22, 2008, 1:29am

I was once in a Borders where an employee got on the public address system and paged a particular person, telling them that the book they were looking for about clearing up their STD (complete with made-up title with stated STD in it) was at the information counter. This was a 3-story Borders in downtown Chicago, near the Christmas season, so it was literally PACKED with people. Everyone in the store simultaneously burst out laughing.

I've never had any butt-money, but I get damp bra-money sometimes in the summer.

12jenreidreads
Maio 28, 2008, 1:35am

An old lady asked me the other day if we sold books. She was serious.

Wait...that's not so much funny as annoying.

13GlennCooper
Nov 22, 2008, 4:40am

We had a customer once who took a $20 bill out of their mouth to make their purchase ...

Ugh.

14radiantmaiden
Maio 8, 2009, 6:06am

I once had a rather elderly gentleman come up to the register service area--during the Christmas season no less--asking to speak to the manager he spoke to the day before. I said, "That shouldn't be a problem. Could you please describe the manager you spoke with, sir?"

(Note: This man was surly from the get-go.) He looked at me like I was a complete idiot, and said, "The one that was working yesterday, Girl!"

I politely explained that we had six different managers on the floor the day before. He grumbled a bit more and said, "All's I know is he was a (explicit language) fairy."

Though several of our employees are openly gay, I looked him directly in the eye and said, "I'm sorry sir, but none of our managers have wings. I'm going to need a more specific description than that."

15ShanLizLuv
Maio 10, 2009, 10:51am

So, this guy comes to the desk asking for psychology books. About 20 minutes later, he comes back with a book about child psychology which, he says, isn't helpful. He wants a book about psychology for adults to read. At least 2 other booksellers and I tried for 10 solid minutes to explain he was holding a book on child psychology, not a psychology book for children. He never got it and left in a purple huff.

A woman wanted to return a book she'd bought several months ago. I explained that we usually didn't return books after two weeks, but she asked for a manager anyway. She explained that, while she had purchased the book months ago, she only started reading it that week. It wasn't at all what she needed. It was a health book that was far to dense, technical and difficult to understand; she could even get through the first chapter. The manager was so nonplussed that he gave her the refund...for Breakthrough by Suzanne Somers.

I once got yelled at for refusing to make duplicate keys for a customer.

16fig2
Editado: Set 1, 2009, 6:19pm

Once a lady walked all the way through the store to the cash register in the back. She asked the cashier "Do you sell books here?" He looked at her and said, "Is that a trick question?" She was not pleased..

17ShanLizLuv
Out 21, 2009, 9:28pm

A little old lady with just the sweetest face and 'Aunt Bea' demeanor came up to the desk and told us her son was getting married. Aw, how sweet, we thought. Seconds later we were all scrambling for a therapist on our health plan....She wanted one of us to help her pick out a really good sex book for him!!! Ack.....

18ShanLizLuv
Out 21, 2009, 9:35pm

//Once a lady walked all the way through the store to the cash register in the back. She asked the cashier "Do you sell books here?" He looked at her and said, "Is that a trick question?" She was not pleased..//

Sometimes there is no answer that won't sound snotty. My personal favorites are:
Where is the nonfiction? and
How do I get downstairs? (Jump?)

19jenreidreads
Out 26, 2009, 11:54pm

How about, "Do you work here?"

No. I always organize books instead of shopping. And wear a name tag just for fun.

20texichan
Out 28, 2009, 11:29pm

Haha! I've gotten the "where is the non-fiction section?" question just about every day I have worked at a bookstore.

In the same vein, my whole chain of bookstores doesn't have a biography section. There is a memoirs section, and the rest of the biographies are categorized according to what the people are known for... people have a lot of difficulty understanding that. There was one very old lady that got FURIOUS with me that our store lacked a biography section. I told her that corporate kind of controlled which sections we have, and we're trained where to put things, and we cannot have a biography section. She got so angry... she accused me of making this decision, yelled at me for it, and then walked around for the next half hour yelling about it, saying that she would rather pay the full price for books at a place that does have a biography section. She had to be about 85. She had a set of lungs, that woman.

21Crypto-Willobie
Editado: Nov 7, 2009, 5:27pm

Until about a year ago I worked for 20 years at an independent bookstore that had been in business since 1972, but B&N and Amazon killed us off. My favorite story concerns our loverly British asst mgr Jan, who had a customer call to have Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Marble Faun" placed on hold for her to pick up later that evening. But when Jan came in the next day it was still on the hold shelf. Someone thought the lady had come in and bought a different copy but they weren't sure. So Jan rang the customer to check, but got the customers (continental) European husband on the phone instead...

Jan (clipped British accent): "Hallo, I'm calling to see that your wife got her Mahbell Fahn, as I've still got one here."
Puzzled Husband: "Her Moppel Phuun? I dun't understand... I am speakink to you right now on her Moppel Phuun!"

22dodger
Jul 23, 2010, 5:54pm

I, too, get the "Where's your non-fiction section?" question often, but my favorite reoccurring question is: "Do you have How to Kill A Mockingbird?" I don't even correct them any more. I simply hand them To Kill a Mockingbird and hope they figure out the silliness on their own.

23dodger
Jul 23, 2010, 6:04pm

This is good for a chuckle:

Bookstore Bingo: 13 Of The Most Ridiculous Things Overheard In Bookstores (PHOTOS) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/23/bookstore-bingo-13-of-the_n_656316.html

24convivia
Mar 12, 2011, 11:51am

Hilarious! Did he dare show his face (or butt) in the shop again?

25convivia
Mar 12, 2011, 11:56am

Entering our local Barnes & Noble one first encounters the NOOK promotion/sales counter. Not much further back one finds tall racks of "educational" toys... so, good question, old lady!

26rocketjk
Mar 17, 2011, 4:05pm

And then of course there's the lesser known sequel, How to Cook a Mockingbird..

27cardinal_biggles
Jun 2, 2011, 6:05pm

Working both retail and libraries, I can understand the "Where is nonfiction?" question. Most public libraries have a designated nonfiction section where the books are arranged by Dewey number, rather than how bookstores break them out into business, medical, biography, cooking, etc.

Doesn't mean I don't get a *little* bit snarky when I answer their question, though. :-p