If you have ever worked with the public sector, particularly in retail, then you know that the holiday season is a time when the crazy customers come out in full force. If they're not demanding to know why we don't carry swimming goggles (Hello? We're a bookstore? True story!), they're contributing to the eventual incarceration of their children when said children finally get retribution for crazy parents, or they're making me wonder why they're shopping for Shakespeare when they clearly don't even know their ABCs, for Pete's sake!
Ahem. Sometimes I let myself get a little carried away. I had a customer this week who, while being perfectly pleasant, actually said one of the most asinine book-related things I've ever heard. To wit:
Customer: I'm looking for a picture book for a child, but it has to be real.
Me: Do you mean you're looking for a work of non-fiction?
Customer: No, I want a story picture book for children, but I want it to be real. Nothing fake.
Me: Do you mean, like nothing in the fantasy realm?
Customer: Well, yes, I don't want that, but I also want to make sure that everything that happens in the book is a real-life thing. Nothing made up. Nothing that couldn't happen in real life.
Me: Hmmm...let me see...what about the new Jan Brett book called Mossy? Our children's buyer tells me that Jan Brett was inspired by a real-life tale involving a similar turtle.
Customer: Well, that might be okay, but you see that picture on the cover? That would never happen in real life. A garden just wouldn't grow on a turtle's back like that.
Me: Well, not strictly speaking, no.
Customer: I just think imagination is dangerous for children. They need things that are real.
Me: I'm sorry, you lost me at IMAGINATION IS DANGEROUS FOR CHILDREN. Get thee behind me, Satan!