While I'm away in Asheville for the week, I wanted to schedule a post or two. Obviously I'm not going to write an actual book review, but I have just the right amount of energy to recount a terrible/laughable customer encounter I had right before Christmas. For whatever reason, I totally kept my cool and was even trying very hard not to laugh through the whole thing, so I must have been in just the right mood. I often feel deflated after bad customer interactions and I tolerate behavior directed toward me that I would never allow to be directed toward my staff So the way that this story ends is particularly satisfying.
Woman: Yes, I called yesterday about The Hobbit. Where is it?
Me: Right over here in the sci-fi/fantasy section. We keep the Tolkien on the bottom shelf. [In a fit of bookseller humor]. You could say he anchors this section.
Woman: Which one is the illustrated one?
Me: Well, we have a couple editions with some of Tolkien's original illustrations, but I wouldn't call them illustrated editions, per se. They're right here...
Woman: What? Why have you lied to me? I called yesterday and you told me that you had illustrated Hobbits. Now where are they?
Me: Well, I didn't personally tell you that we had illustrated editions, and I'm sorry if one of my coworkers did. I know there was a Michael Hague illustrated edition at one point, and I can check to see if it's still available...
Woman: Do you have it here? If not, don't bother. You're a liar and I wouldn't buy anything from a liar.
Me: Well, ma'am. Well, again, I didn't personally lie to you, and there's an excellent chance I can have the book for you by tomorrow. This close to the holidays, we place special orders every day of the week. I'm sorry that you're upset, but why don't you let me see if I can have it for you tomorrow?
Woman: Was I not clear? You're a liar -- you're all liars -- and I will never shop here again.
Me: Ma'am, I'm very sorry that you're upset, but I'm trying to make the situation right for you. What would it take to
Woman: Why would I trust the word of a liar? You're just upset that I'm yelling for everybody else in the store to hear. Well, I'm going to tell everybody I know that Odyssey Bookshop is filled with liars. *stomps off, with a tone that implies that she thinks I'm probably a whore, too.*
Normally, an encounter like this would really make me angry. But it was just so obvious to me how ridiculous the situation was that I called out to her, with a big grin, as she walked away: "Ma'am, I'm really sorry. And I'm really sorry that you think it's okay to treat people that way, but I'm glad you took it out on me and not somebody else."
A small clutch of customers who had started to gather 'round started applauding. I curtsied once (while I was thinking, to save time) and got back to work. I don't normally give any lip back to customers, no matter the situation, but for this I was fighting to keep my face straight the whole time. It was almost as if it had been Will Ferrell there in the store, hurling those accusations at me:
In other words, it was pretty hard to take her seriously. What about y'all? Do you have any outlandish customer tales to share with me?