You don't get your usual crazy person in a bookstore, oh no. You get the crazy person who reads. Therefore, because said person reads, he/she thinks that he/she is an intelligent crazy person that can challenge anything you say. He/she considers him/herself to be cultured.
Beyond the usual, “I’m looking for a book but I can’t remember the title or author. It’s blue, you had it here a year ago, can you grab it for me?”, people think it’s fine to spill coffee on the shelves and walk away. People think it’s fine to put gum on the books. People think it’s fine to bring books to the bathroom and shit on them. Seriously. Each of the crazies, for the most part, can be placed under one or more of the following categories:
The Man Who Jacks Off In The Corner
This man would take a huge stack of our sex books, plunk down in a corner, and jack off. He is in a wheelchair, and thus would spread his jacket over his groin area and think that we couldn't tell what he was doing. Then, he would leave his books there when he was finished, and the unfortunate new hire would be stuck putting them away (however you interpret "stuck" or "stickiness" is up to you, kiddies).
The Mother Who Thinks the Bookstore is a Daycare
For some reason, Moms think that coming to the bookstore is a good way to relieve their babysitter for a bit. These moms would let their children defecate on the floor and ask you to clean it up. They would let their children pee on the Thomas the Tank engine table and walk away. They would let their children spill bottles of glue, puke all over the Robert Munsch books, and destroy perfectly arranged displays that took hours to accomplish. These moms would think the store was their living room and could let their children run around freely and even ask the sales assistants to “watch the kids” while the moms would go shopping for hair magazines. We'd sometimes leave copies of Hold Onto Your Kids around the kids section, but nobody ever took the bait.
There is this one psycho chick who always wanted to complain about something. She would be far more compelling if she didn’t look like she was 17. She was freakin’ scary though, because she would talk in a very harsh, loud voice. The latest complaint that I recall was that we didn’t stock Mein Kampf (no joke!). I told her to go to the used bookstore if she wanted a book about how to brutally eradicate an entire race of human beings, but it wasn’t the book itself that she wanted. No, no, no. She wanted to complain about the fact that the book itself was not available, that our CEO was banning literature and hindering free speech. I told her to go f*ck herself (well, almost did), and said that many, many, many people would be offended if we stocked that book. She responded with, “Well, I get offended every time I walk by the sexuality section!” with her nose in the air, and stormed off (after everyone in the store heard the exchange). I thought, wow, someone must not be getting some.
The Middle-Aged Person who Thinks He/She Knows How the Economy Works
You would not believe the people who think that they know about exchange rates and the Canadian pricing vs. American pricing. If you didn’t know, books in Canada have both the US & Canadian prices printed on the inside covers (the American price is always cheaper, only because Canada is smaller & everything will always be more expensive up here, not to mention that the publishers set prices on books, not the stores). People would come in with American cash & think that they could get the American price. “Why not?!?” they would ask incredulously, before throwing their items at me and storming off. “Because we live in CANADA, you stupid idiot!!!” I would say. People also will go on rants about conspiracy theories, about how we were trying to rip people off, about how we were corrupt. I didn't correct them.
The Pervy Children’s Author
There’s this local children’s author who is SUCH a perv. He won a literary award for his book, so he now thinks he’s the shit. If he had a book signing and we would offer him a free coffee from Starbucks, the bastard would order 2 venti frappuccinos (totalling $13). He would hit on many a young girl (including myself, even when I was 17). Before he was deemed a total perv, he offered to look over my children’s book that I was writing for my Children’s Lit. class. Fortunately, that never happened, because he kept leaving me messages like “I’m going to a bachelor auction, you should come” and “I’m brushing my teeth.” I pretended that there was a death in the family and that I would be unavailable for get-togethers for the next five years.
The Man With Personal Space Issues
There was once this scary, ginormous man who apparently was offended that somebody (another customer) "brushed by him too closely" and proceeded to shriek at her. My manager went over to tell the huge man that she was calling the cops. He said he was going to kick her ass (he didn’t), but nobody likes my manager, so we were all hoping that he would.***
The Man Who Comes to the Bookstore to Pick up Girls
There is always a man who thinks that “You’re too pretty to work in a bookstore. So, what do you want to be when you grow up, a librarian?” is a good pickup line. There's a particular doctor who would come in and stand soooooo close to you when he was talking (he would make you look up titles for him for an hour, but never buy anything). Whenever I saw this particular doctor come in, I would dart for a counter to put between us. But you could see him twitching on the other side, inching to get closer.
The Girl Who is Just Plain Crazy
There was once this girl who approached me. She had a giant unibrow. I asked her if she needed any help, and she said, "I haven't eaten anything all day. I'm anorexic." She walked away. After finally deciding to buy something, she went up to the cashier and asked, "Where's the closest bridge from here that I can jump off of?" Yentl (who worked at the cafe right next to me) told me later that this girl had previously come over to the Starbucks side and had both a juice and cookie sample. So she did eat something that day. The liar. From then on, I rethought my "Do you need any help?" question.
Besides these crazies, I do miss the everyday assholes. The ones who would throw pens at me when they were upset. The ones who would stick their hands in my personal cashier counter space and try to rip their receipt out of the machine before it was finished printing. The one (only one, thank god!) who asked me when my baby was due, and didn't understand that I wasn't pregnant. The ones who would jabber on their cellphones the entire time, and then be appalled that I never asked them if they wanted a bag. The ones that I would call to tell them their book order was in, which would result in them telling me all about their diabetic neighbour, dead husband, and pet hamster for a half-hour. The ones who would highlight/scribble/spill coffee on their books after buying them over a year ago, and attempt to return them.
Thank you, Bookstore, for all these great moments that I will cherish forever.
***FYI my ex-manager is the epitome of what I never want to be in life. Single. Middle-aged. Works in a bookstore. Owns a million cats & a million books & thinks that everyone secretly aspires to be her. A total power tripper.