10 December 2012

Bookstore Rants: Lady, you CRAZY


It is a truth universally acknowledged that an encounter with a  crazy customer must be in want of a blog post.  

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!


  1. Wow, that is crazy! Was her name Petunia Dursley by any chance?

  2. Why, you know, come to think of it? She did have that pinched and horsey look to her...

  3. Oh my god! That's crazy! What did she want, a collection of photographs with captions?? I'm hoping she's not shopping for her own kid because I would just feel so bad for that child.

    1. It wasn't entirely clear what she wanted, I'm afraid. I passed her off on another bookseller after the imagination comment, as it was entirely clear to me that I wasn't going to give good customer service after that.

  4. Totally boggles my mind. To paraphrase a certain sports icon, "I pity the poor fools who are her children...."

  5. Hahahaha! I'm so glad I don't have to deal with that this holiday season.

  6. Scary that people like this are raising children.

  7. She would have hated the books my parents bought me! A garden on a turtle *is* realistic compared to the wonderful books I read as a kid (no offence to Mossy of course)

  8. Great story! Amazing there are people like that, but then there are people in all kinds of shapes, sizes and beliefs. Kids that use their imagination may imagine that their parents aren't the authority or that God doesn't exist. You can't have that!

  9. I fear my child is in imminent danger. At this very moment, he is imagining that his toy cars are real and can drive and speak by themselves!

    I'm sorry you experienced such a crazy customer. I would wish that you won't find another one for a while, but it is the holiday season...

  10. I would say a dangerous imagination is essential for all children and I hope I never grow out of mine.
    I had two childhoods - one as me and one as Anne of Green Gables and I was bilssfully happy on Prince Edward Island for a whole 6 months. Some people must have led very dull lives themselves if they think a book with "nothing made up" is what a child would want. My own children have just had to live with the disappointment that no tiger ever came for tea!

  11. What? Wait, I'm still in shock. What?? Yeah, I don't even know what to say...where does one begin? Where would the world be without imagination? Oh wait, let's not imagine that. It would be too dangerous.


Please, sir, may I have some more? (Comments, that is!)