Bookless and Reeling

It’s a sad time, has been sad for a few years now. I left the books for something that pays a bit better but is more tedious.

I didn’t think I’d miss it when I left. I’d had enough. I was working in an utterly ridiculous shop, they culled the majority of the people in the three months I was there, people who had been there for many many years. I get why they did it, but it was pretty brutal to watch. And OH MY GOD I JUST REMEMBERED SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED. I must share it. I apologise in advance.

So we had this manager who was brought in to get these older workers going, I’m not sure what he was told about them, but he tried, he really did. And you could tell he was worried about his own job because he made some funny decisions with the books (oh, the books! The books!), and he was tireless and endlessly positive and I really liked him despite some of his funny decisions (the boooooks!).

There was an older guy, let’s call him Dan. Dan had been in that shop for yonks. Like, many many years. Dan was from somewhere similar to Barking, in his late 40’s/mid 50’s. He lived with his parents, I think. He wore those glasses that make your eyes look like bulgy goldfish eyes. He had a big belly, and he had no teeth. No front teeth. I think he was on the verge of telling me about some of his sexual exploits – like I’d gained his trust, like it would be a treat for me – just before he found another job and left. I am very very grateful for this other job. Thank you, other job, from the bottom of my heart. You had very good timing. Dan was nice enough to me, I’m just trying to paint an honest picture of him.

This bookshop had a cafe, and Dan would work in the cafe when he wasn’t not doing much shelving of the books. He and the other older workers hated the new manager. I didn’t see as much of this, because I wasn’t in with the others, but I realised just how much they hated him when Dan told me this something awful disgusting thing.

One morning it was just Dan and the manager (we’ll call him Chipper Mick, because he was chipper), so Dan was making sure everything was ready in the cafe. I think Dan must have called the office where Chipper Mick was getting all the money bits ready to ask if Chipper Mick would like a coffee. Chipper Mick said ‘Ooooh, yes please, I would love a cappuccino’, so Dan made him one. Which is lovely, isn’t it? That was nice of Dan.

Except that Dan spit in the coffee before giving it to Chipper Mick.

HE SPIT IN THE COFFEE AND THEN CHIPPER MICK DRANK IT. 

And Dan told me this with such glee, he was so proud of this feat. I honestly have no idea what my reaction was, I think my brain just started squealing like that poor guy in Deliverance while my face froze in a manic way as my mind tried to escape from the situation.

Ugh.

Anyway! I lasted about 4 months there, I think? Maybe more…I had to take time off for The Depression, and Chipper Mick was really nice about that. In my first week there, I got a customer recommendation-type thing, where they told head office that I was lovely and good (I told her that we couldn’t order a book because it was out of print, but bless her for doing that). Instead of taking me aside and congratulating me, Captain Jack (yeah, he was still loitering about making people feel like shit) read it out in front of the other booksellers and then said “She’s only been here a week, and she’s better than you. You should be ashamed” or something along those lines.

Tit.

There were some good people there, but I’m pretty sure they’ve all left now. It wasn’t a nice place to be, that shop. They never gave me any concrete thing to do either, so I’d spend time trying to sort out all the shit that had built up over the years only to be distracted by another huge pile of shit, or told to scan the delivery in, or left downstairs for hours trying to put those shitty little penguin classics in order. I had a woman lure me upstairswhen I was on my own on the shop floor, trying to get a refund for loads of CD’s that she’d ‘bought’ but had lost the reciept for. She was crying, and saying that her Dad had died, and it was a bit stressful. But hey hey, I survived.

That’s it. I have to go now. I keep thinking about spitty coffee. Aso I’m working on my other new job right now and it’s tedious yet stressful. What to do, what to doooo? My life, it is all over the place. Oh, the turmoil. Oh, oh.

And just to let  you know, Chipper Mick is still alive and well, and working in another shop now. All his limbs still work, and his skin hasn’t got a rash and he can still speak without slurring his words. So don’t worry. Don’t you worry one bit about Chipper Mick.

Feedback For the Mentally Ill

I have been back at the big bookshop since last August, I think.

26 weeks I have been back, and it’s been…a challenge. This has nothing to do with customers. I love customers. I have mostly had lovely beautiful understanding customers since I came back. It’s the company that is a challenge.

I can’t remember much from before Christmas, because Christmas was so traumatic that I am still having flashbacks:

  • Umbrellas that change colour in the rain.
  • Putting price stickers on balls of raffia.
  • Ornamental Christmas trees made out of sticks, that smelled vaguely of poo.
  • Stickering keyrings.
  • Mugs that look like camera lenses (how clever!).
  • Placing £3.99 stickers on tiny tins that say “Donut fund” on them.
  • Coming to work after two days off to find 60 boxes waiting for me to deal with. Sixty boxes. Filled with chocolates, and notebooks that say “I’m doing my best!”, and Marvel Monopoly, and Sherlock Holmes Cluedo, and puzzles depicting flower shops, and gloves that you can wear while using smartphones, and projectors that you put your smartphones into (kind of cool, those), and camera film (wat), and flasks with fish on them, and notebooks with mushrooms on them, and (I shit you not) a small toy yacht for children called “The 8 Inch Chubby”.

I would get about 20 boxes a day, and be given an hour (if I was lucky) to go through and price them. I was only given an hour, because we didn’t have enough staff on the shop floor, because we were given five temps who started in December with very little training, who actually ate our time by constantly asking us how to do things, panicking, putting customer orders through for books that were no longer in print, shelving books in ridiculous places and not understanding the alphabet.

I feel sorry for those temps, because we hated them. It wasn’t their fault, but we still hated them.

Eventually I gave up on them and just went to do my non-booky things anyway.

We also had two amazing special favourite people come in to help us over Christmas. People who are sent to shops to help them in times of need. The woman decided she would help me one day. So she moved things around in my area and told me that I needed to put all the mugs out, because people liked those. Then she said that we would work together on the table, and we would make it “The most commercial table you have ever seen”. She was also going to tidy up my display of games.

She never did those things.

Her and her friend would come in whenever they wanted, take long lunches, moan about the state of our staff room, and were overheard one day saying that today was a “take it easy day”.

We hated them, too.

I can’t remember when exactly, but some time before Christmas all the full-time staff had to spend a day in the city for training. A meeting? A pep-talk….

On my training pep-day in the city we were told to lie. We were told that we had to sell lots of particular books to people by lying to them. Don’t read the books! You don’t have to read the books we want you to sell lots of! All you have to do is walk passed a customer and say “That’s an amazing book”, and they will buy it. They won’t ever ask in what way it is amazing. Oh, no. They will buy it. It helps if you touch the book, too. But don’t touch the customer.

There is a good reason behind this, though. If we can sell a lot of a certain selection of books, it means that the publishers trust us again, and then we get better deals on books and shit. It’s very technical, and I don’t think that you would really fully understand, because books.

At one point, a man from another shop said he didn’t feel comfortable lying to his customers in that way. At which one of the main big boss people asked him “Do you trust me? I chose some of those books. Do you trust me? Do you trust me? Do you trust me?!?!”

It was all a little uncomfortable. At another point, they were talking about how they liked shops with personality. They wanted to see us having fun and talking and interacting loudly at customers. Then a woman from another shop piped up and said something along the lines of “I sing at work!”, and they all smiled and nodded.

She’s a good employee.

I thought  I was being a pretty good employee. I’m not amazing. Oh no. But I’m pretty good. I know not to order books that are no longer in print, for example. Sometimes I sing.

I am about to toot my own horn here, in a serious manner. Are you ready? Because I am.

I know quite a bit about kid’s books. I love kid’s books. I can recommend a kid’s book to anyone who asks, and not lie. I’m pretty good at kid’s books.

So when I started back in the big bookshop to replace the kid’s bookseller who had just left, and they put me in charge of non-booky stuff, I was a little confused. I asked my manager (who is a good manager) whether he knew that I have about six or seven years of experience in kid’s books.

He said he didn’t, no.

So then, the next time I saw my manager’s boss, I asked him whether he was aware of this fact.

He said he wasn’t, no.

But I was still not moved into the kid’s book section. The woman who was previously in charge of non-booky stuff was put in the kid’s section. We discussed this decision, her and I, and we were both slightly perplexed as to why it had been made. She enjoyed non-booky things, and would have preferred to have been left there.

Oh! I forgot to mention that I had been given other sections, too. In my first few weeks back, we had a little tour of the shop with my manager’s boss. I will call him Captain Jack.

Captain Jack didn’t think that non-booky stuff was enough work for me. Oh no. He wanted me to also look after the window displays. I would be changing them once a month, and also making little changes to them every week.

I also had to look after the front of store. This means the snazzy hardback tables, the little special one book tables that get changed once a week (sometimes less, sometimes more), and the tables full of paperbacks that have special offer stickers on them. These sell the most, and have to be topped up at least once a day. It also includes the new hardback non-fiction wall that they had added, which we dubbed “The Wall if Doom”.

We hate that wall.

I also had to go and get flowers every week or so to make the snazzy tables look nice.

At one point, I asked Captain Jack whether he was trying to make me cry (lolz! Joking around with bosses! Showing personality!). He looked at me with his cold, dead eyes and said “Oh, no. If I wanted to make you cry, you would know it”.

After a month or two of neglecting non-booky things by tidying front of store tables, feeling guilty about neglecting non-booky things and going to do a half-assed job on putting that stock out, only to realised that the front of store was looking like shit and trying to frantically tidy that in the half hour before I went home, and completely forgetting to buy flowers for the snazzy tables, I realised this was not going to work. Forget Christmas, I couldn’t even keep up with this at a normal time of the year. So I said to my manager “I think I’m just going to concentrate on non-booky things, and perhaps the two people who look after fiction can do the front of store”.

He agreed that this was probably a good idea.

Meanwhile, the kid’s section was being neglected. This is because the woman who was in charge of it was only spending half her time in there, because she has another role which takes her out of the shop, and also off the shop floor quite a bit. Which is perfectly acceptable, in my opinion, but not good for the kid’s books.

So now I will fast forward to this week. I had been given a holiday the week before, and I came in on the early shift ready to start the day with my loud personality and lying skills. I asked my manager how the week had been. He asked if I’d heard from anyone. Slightly confused, I said no, I hadn’t.

“Waheeeey!”, he exclaimed, “It’s been a big week! Big news! Lots of changes!”

But he wouldn’t tell me what. I had to wait a few hours for Captain Jack to come in to tell me. I asked if we were closing down. He said no. I asked my colleague if I was getting fired, he said he wouldn’t think so. He’d be very surprised if that were the case. I asked if it was happy news or sad news. My manager said that hmmmmmmmm, it was 50/50? He didn’t seem too sure about that.

I waited, slightly on edge…

When Captain Jack did arrive, and my manager asked me if I would like to come and speak with them both, I said no, I would not. I did not want to know. He chuckled (lolz! Personality!), and I went upstairs to the office.

Captain Jack asked how my holiday was. I said it was Ace! He said wow, that’s good! And then he proceeded to tell me the news.

He said our shop is not doing well. We need to raise sales by quite a lot in the next year, and we are not on target for doing that. He said that last year, they stripped a shop in the city of all of its staff, and brought new and better staff in, and now it is doing well. The new staff know how to lie, and they sell a lot of the books that we are supposed to sell. They are amazing.

We are not, so the same thing is going to be done to us. He then said that I, personally have been underperforming. When I returned to the big bookshop they had high hopes for me. I haven’t achieved these high hopes. I am being moved to another shop which is closer to my house, so isn’t that nice?

I was not impressed. Perhaps it was the way in which he coldly told me that I was a disappointment that did it…But I did not take the news well. Firstly I said that the shop I was being moved to had a bad reputation. He asked in what way. I said it was nothing specific (they’ve had about five years of bad managers, and neglect, and my friend who used to work there, who worked so hard to help the staff and be positive and build up her section had been so unappreciated that she had left, after pretty much having a breakdown).

I asked how he thought my underperformance would be improved by moving me to this shop. He said it would be a fresh start for me. I asked in which ways, exactly, had I been underperforming. He said he wouldn’t go into it, but my manager would do that in my review before I left.

Then he said “Alright! That’s it. Thanks”

I got up, not saying anything, and left.

This meeting took about two minutes. In two minutes, cold-eyed cold-hearted Captain Jack pretty much destroyed my will to go on.

We worked so hard over Christmas, understaffed and stressed. We didn’t do amazingly (I wonder why?), but we hit our budgets and we survived. My section, the non-booky section, was up by lots.

I skipped breaks and had shorter lunches just so that I could get my stock out. I had to stop stickering (even the super special woman agreed with that) just so I would have enough time to get it all out. I worked every weekend.

We had queues about 15 metres long. We couldn’t move in the shop at times because it was so busy.

But whatever. Forget that I rode my bike a few miles to deliver a book to a customer at one point. Forget that I took time out of my day to go and collect books from other shops for people. It doesn’t matter that I spent so much time trying to get books in that had been ordered in the wrong edition, so that people could have them for Christmas (Do you hear me toot my own horn? Toooooot).

Tooooooooooooot.

So that was my feedback. The first piece of feedback since I returned was that.

Toooooot.

Oh, yes. And who is mentally ill? It’s me! I am mentally ill! Just after I started, I caught depression 😦

If I ever find the person who gave it to me, I will kick them. I will shake my tiny fist at them. And then I will probably cry a bit and go to bed for the day to sleep and think about death and the pointlessness of everything.

I don’t really have much to say about that, because Allie Brosh has said it all, and said it perfectly.

The last few days after hearing this news I have been waking up at around 5am and thinking about my underperformance, and then crying a bit (that’s what I’m really good at, these days. I cry when old people look confused. I cry at the thought of Peter Gabriel dying. I cried watching wrestling last week. Wrestling made me cry).

Yesterday morning I woke up and cried, but then I did something else, too. I made a decision, and I made a list.

Fuck them (that’s my decision).

I’m going to sell lots of the books that I know and love (these were in my list). I’m going to sell good kid’s books by the hundreds, instead of the books that they choose (most of which are not to my taste, anyway).

I’ll show them underperformance.

Underperform that, dickheads.

Old is New is Old

Oh, hello.

 

It’s been a while.

I am no longer in the little independent book shop, they couldn’t be bothered to find a bigger office to publish in, so they turfed me out to make space. Many more things happened there; I grew to really like all of the women who work in the office, and I miss them dearly.

Four of them quit within a matter of months because they couldn’t take the bullshit any more.

 

The last I heard they had temporarily been moved to a basement and the evil little man was calling the part-timer I had worked with ‘Fatty’ and getting one of the Graphic Designers fired. My favourite quote from this little evil man was “Yeeeah, I am the Chief Operating Officer here. It’s not a mnemonic I particularly aspire to, but… it’s what I do“.
Cool place, that.

Now guess where I am.

 

GUESS.

 

I’m back in the big bookshop. The one with all the different kinds of books and the posh people and also the regular customer who has been banned from ordering books because it’s a compulsion and he would order the same things over and over so now he just comes in and demands that we print pictures of Charlton Heston and Roger Moore until we tell him that the printer is broken and we can’t print any more pictures and no, we promise there is not a secret hidden printer downstairs and he will have to go elsewhere to get his fix of Planet of the Apes and James Bond:
“Can’t you go to the library, Ron?”
“Can’t”
“Why not?”
“Can’t”
“We can’t keep doing this for you, Ron”
“Last one. That’s alright. Last one.”

On cold mornings, he will come in with a large string (stream, waterfall) of snot hanging over his mouth that glistens and wobbles as he speaks, making me want to hurl into the strange colourful plastic lunch boxes that we now sell.

This shop used to be my favourite to work in. Most of the people had worked there for years, and they were all good people with pleasing quirks and good senses of hooma*.

Don’t get me wrong, I mostly still like it here. I am grateful that they took me back (thank you, thank you. I like job. I love money).

But.

Since I came back, we have lost three members of staff (not through death, but quitting and being moved to other shops), only one of whom has been replaced. The replacement is…lacking. Very nice, but lacking.

We have been told that all the customer orders must be kept downstairs, despite the fact that we don’t have enough room to keep them there and it’s not even close to Christmas yet.

There are certain books we have to sell a certain amount of each week, otherwise apparently we face disciplinaries.

We had a poll going as to who would crack first over Christmas, which was all very jolly until someone cracked, and it was completely unjolly, and rather horrible, and now we don’t talk much about cracking any more.

We are all behind. I am so behind that I could build a house out of the boxes that are waiting for me to open, peer hopefully inside, and weep at the contents:
Tiny hangy painted wooden horse, anyone?
No?
How about a small Christmas tree made out of twigs?
No?
PLEASE TAKE THESE UGLY SQUARE TINS THAT HAVE EXCEEDINGLY UNFUNNY QUOTES ON THEM.
PLEASE.
TAKE THEM.
I NEED HELP.

 

So yeah. That’s what is happening. A lot less anger, but a lot more despair and hopelessness.

Although my friend did anger a customer when she asked if he worked here, and he said “No”.

“Why would he say that? He is very rude. Why would somebody lie about working here?”

 

Sorry, that’s the funniest thing I’ve got at the moment…

 

Books.

 

*This is a quote from one of my favourite books, The Lawnmower Celebrity by Ben Hatch. We don’t sell it. I think it’s out of print. Love your work, Ben Hatch.
Ben Hatch.

Nothing Ever Happens…

I have had considerably less inspiration for this blog since I started my new job. The customers are polite, and relatively normal. Not much happens, in terms of anecdotal material.

 
There was the time one of the bestselling illustrators published by the company came in, and I looked blankly at him as he said his name in a very thick accent, then repeated it accompanied with a jaunty jig of disbelief (You don’t know me? But I am so very famous! I will do this! Do you know me now?!?).
 
There was a brief moment of panic and elation when I was downstairs, pulling a heavy box of books off the top shelf and thought my arms would give way so made a stifled animally-type noise and twisted my back so that it hurt for about four seconds and I was ridiculously, ungratefully hopeful that I would have to take time off.
 
There are the people in the office. I could tell you about them.
 
The one I would like to write about today I will call Tina. Her name is not Tina, but I am calling her Tina. Perhaps I shall even take to calling her Tina in real life…
 
So before I started this job, I came in to have a chat with the MD Tim (his name is not Tim). He handed me my contract (which I still haven’t signed, something I am rather pleased about), and waffled (something I have discovered that he is particularly good at) at me for some time. 
 
Then he showed me around the place. He didn’t show me the toilet or tiny kitchen, but walked me through the stock room (which I’m sure he’d already shown me), telling me about the things in the stock room.
 
Shelves.
 
Books.
 
Prints.
 
A strange musty smell.
 
Shelves.
 
A sink.
 
As I was nodding in an interested and learned manner, a woman came from the direction of the toilet. She had hunched shoulders, and was shuffling and sniffling quietly. She didn’t look too happy.
 
“Ah!” said Tim, “This is Tina. Tina, this is-oh! What’s wrong?” Tim belatedly realised that Tina wasn’t doing so well. Tina explained that her Grandma had died and she’d just found out.
 
This is horrible. I understand the feeling completely, as I have had the same experience.
 
But this was also very awkward for all involved. Tim did his best. He was very sympathetic and caring, but you could tell that Tina just wanted to get out of this awful, incredibly unimportant introduction to the new staff member.
 
I just stood there, trying to look sympathetic and also as if perhaps I wasn’t there. 
 
After that, we went upstairs into the office where everyone was gravitating towards Tina as she wept, offering useless pieces of advice (“Can’t you get a flight home?” “Is there any way that you could get home in time for the funeral?” “Can’t you get a flight home?” etc etc).
 
I just stood there, trying to look sympathetic and also as if perhaps I wasn’t there.
 
So I left, got a fancy coffee from a funky cafe, and went home to watch a period drama.
 
And that is how I met Tina. These days she mostly ignores me. She doesn’t say hello or goodbye. On her first day back after Christmas, I said “Hello Tina”, at which she kept her back turned. Perhaps she didn’t hear me….
 
She does speak to me when I bring her mail. Everytime she goes “Oooooh! Thank you!”. All the while her eyes are on the parcel. 
 
I’m often trying to think of reasons as to why she doesn’t like me: 
Over the holidays I googled her. Perhaps she has some nifty internet device that shows who has looked her up. She is consumed by rage at any people that look her up who are not famous and influential. 
 
Maybe she looked me up, and saw all my tweets about how I do nothing at work and find it very boring.
 
The other night after everyone had gone home I looked in her naughty fruit bowl that is often filled with chocolate. It is highly possible that she has a naughty fruit-bowl-cam, which she reviews every day to add names onto her naughty fruit bowl thieves list.
 
Did I hit her with the tiny novelty jumping frog too many times at the Christmas dinner party?
 
She probably thinks that my hair is a nicer shade of red than hers, and she hates me for it.
 
Perhaps because I was there on the day that her Grandmother died, she blames me for it. 
 
Maybe I’m just a generally unlikable person.
 
Who knows? It’s a mystery to all but Tina. 
 
Oh, Tina.
 
 
UPDATE: Something slightly interesting just happened! A man wearing sunglasses (in the evening) and a hoodie entered, carrying an alcoholic beverage. He then proceeded to do a little dance and mutter at me for a bit, as I watched him in my periphery.
He left, saying in a high-pitched voice “Have a lovely evening!” 
 
To which I replied “You too?” rather meekly. I breathed a sigh of relief when he left.
 
But then he came back, stopped halfway through the door, pointed at me and muttered menacingly. 
 
I may be cursed. 
 
I am also now afraid that he has come back in undetected and will leap out from behind some plastic flaps downstairs and stab me.
 
Wish me luck.

 

My New Job

I just started a new job. 

I am now selling books.

The difference with this one is that it isn’t a big company with a load of shops, but a little independent bookshop that fronts a little independent publishing house. 

I went for it on a whim, not thinking that I’d even get an interview. My colleague had told me about it, you see, so I sent it my cv without a cover letter (something they asked for in the ad).

They replied, asking me to send it again as I’d sent it on a shitty program that they couldn’t open. So I wrote a cover letter and sent it in again. 

Then I went for the first interview.

There were two guys who spoke to me. They asked very few questions, and talked a lot about how cool the company is. They also talked about how the job might be shit (‘You might have to travel to Europe and stay in a pokey cold hotel and set up a stall and then fly back here with some new books. Could you cope with that?’).

I nodded and said things like “That sounds very exciting!” or “Ooh. You are amazing and trendy people!” (Not so much the latter, but definitely the former).

And then I got called for a second interview with the MD. He is also very trendy and cool. He wore a hoody (so trendy!), and also talked. A lot. About not much.

One question went something like “We like to, kind of, you’ll have to get things done like ordering and organising and I want to expand, and you’ll need to be involved with that kind of thing…. How would you go about doing that?” No shit. That was his question. 

So I answered that one with a confident “………What do you mean?”. 

I finally realised that he might appreciate me talking in the same way (I’m shit at interviews, by the way. I go shaky and my eyes tend to focus on the table in front of me, and I might frown a lot, too). So I tried to talk in the same way, and I stumbled a bit, and repeated myself, and had one ramble that lead into nothing, and looked him in the eye for too long.

And I got the job. 

It is now the end of my first week. So far, I’ve come in at 9:00, 9:30 and 10:00. I was told the hours would be 9-6 for me. 
They are now 10-7.

We make a few hundred pounds a day.

Yesterday I got to order in a load of books that I love.

I can play my own music.

They have a coffee machine.

I’m supposed to be doing online orders (packing them and labelling them for the postman), but one woman from the office did that this morning. 

Currently, I’m sat behind the till writing this and browsing news websites and BoingBoing.

I have tweeted a few times.

It’s a fucking brilliant job so far.

Stubborn, Petty and Childish.

This morning I was cheerfully buttering my toast when I promptly dropped it into the cutlery drawer, butter side down.

This didn’t upset me in the least, and after I’d checked the toast for cutlery drawer grime and cutlery drawer hairs, I thought to myself
‘Haha! I am easy going and calm.
That is very cool.
I am both unfazed, and cool’

I was very pleased with myself. So pleased that I was still thinking about it this afternoon.
But then I thought about how I am at work, and the little things that annoy me. Tiny things give me no amount of rage. I mostly get annoyed at customers, for ridiculous things.

So I have decided to make a list of these things.

By the way, I know they are ridiculous. I know they are insignificant and unworthy of my attention, but after this long in retail, sometimes I can’t help myself. Often I become petty and unreasonable, and I amfully aware  that I am being petty and unreasonable, but I cannot stop myself. The small sense of satisfaction I get from these actions is childish, and stubborn,
and utterly worth it.

  1. Not saying hello.
    Why? Why do you do this? I mean, I know we aren’t buddies. I’m not asking for your number. I won’t follow you home and ask for some tea.
    We are both human people. I am a human person. I don’t exist just to serve you. I like to be acknowledged as a human person. Just say “Hello” (But don’t go too far. This is Britain. When you ask how I am, I get confused and slightly offended).
    If this happens, sometimes I wait for the customer to say hello, but I don’t have the staying power a lot of the time. It gets too awkward too quickly for me. So I will go slowly. I will take my sweet, sweet time.
    And then I give you the most change I can without it becoming obvious. I also find the dirtiest pennies I can. I will also not offer to give you a special stampy on your stamp card.
    And then I will say “Thank you!” loudly and cheerfully, and perhaps even wave as you leave.
    Hee! You lose!
  2. Customers putting money on the counter.
    What’s wrong with my hand? Am I dirty? Am I going too slowly for you? If this is the case, then you are making me take more time, because I now have to pick up your money, count it (if it’s change), and then put it in the till. I will also do this at a slower pace, because hahaha, that makes me the winner.
    I will put your change on the counter, too. Because that will definitely teach you a jolly good lesson, and you’ll never do it again.
  3.  Asking for something before I can offer it e.g. “Can I have a bag/receipt/a stamp on my special stampy card?”
    I will offer you these things, because that is my job (unless you are being rude).
    The only reaction I have to this is to become cheerily sarcastic e.g “It’s £5 per bag/If you say please!”
    Ho ho. I win
  4. “Can you look up a book for me?”
    No. Really, I have no way of looking up a book for you. This computer I am standing behind does not have the capacity to look up a book.
    Also, I can’t type.
    Sometimes, if they look like they have a sense of humour, I will say “No” to them and pull a funny face. Let’s all have a laugh, while I teach you a lesson, and then win.
  5. Customers who take the receipt from the printer.
    You win. You idiot. Unless the Gods are smiling down upon me, and you walk away without your change/book/saying thank you.
    Then I can call after you, and give you a smug face. You idiot.
  6. Giving me a reason as to why you need a bag.
    I do kind of prompt this, because I always ask “Do you need a bag?” so I think a lot of people feel like they need to justify why they need a bag.
    Is it a gift? That’s nice. Is it raining outside? Oh, my! You want to keep the book nice? Well done you!
    I don’t care.
    Just say yes.
    I don’t care. 
    Also, it isn’t my fault that we don’t have paper bags. I do not spend my time out the back constructing our bags from recycled materials. It is not my decision what kind of bags we offer you. When you tut at me for not having a paper bag, it makes me want to put one of our plastic bags over my head and secure it with a rubber band until you walk away. Without a fucking bag.

That’s my list of unreasonable things that annoy me. Of course there are reasonable things that annoy me, but I don’t think I’d enjoy writing about them as much.

I would like to thank a few of my colleagues for reminding me about items to include in this list. The rage it brought me whilst we were discussing it was worth it.
No, really.

It’s Difficult, I Know…

I once had a nemesis.

She only came in twice, but she spoke just to me, seemed to hate me, and I still think about her every now and then, so I have classed her as my nemesis (although I think I may have met my new nemesis, but we’ll see about that).

I used to work in a shop that was inside a shopping centre. It’s a pretty shitty shopping centre, with a big supermarket, a gym, two cafes, a cinema, a crap pub, some restaurants and a couple of other shops. People mostly come in for the supermarket.

This shopping centre is in a really odd area, that doesn’t really have anything else going for it, other than you can walk to a very posh area in about 20 minutes.

The customers are, without a doubt, some of the most horrible people I have ever encountered, with the exception of an older gentleman who comes in every day, says hello to us all, and sometimes falls asleep on the couch. If he falls asleep, he walks past us as he is leaving and says “I just fell asleep!” to which we all chuckle merrilly, and he goes on his way.

Here is an example: I once got told off for showing a customer to the book she was asking for.

She said to me “Where are the Elmer books?” and I said “They will be in the picture book section, under M for McKee”.

I may have been slightly terse, as she didn’t greet me in any other way, just demanded to know where Elmer was.

She then stated “I’m in a hurry”, so I emerged from behind the till, took her to the picture book section, handed her some Elmer books said “There you go”, and left her to it. When she returned, she said to me “Everybody here is rude. You just stomped away after I asked for help”, to which replied “I did not stomp. I am sorry that you feel that way. You told me you were in a hurry, so I showed you what you asked for”. She bought the book, and left in a huff.

But she was not my nemesis.

My first encounter with the nemesis was as I was tidying a table in the front of the store. She entred the shop and called over to me.

“Where’s Jack London!” (The customers in this shop never seemed to say ‘Hello’, or ‘Please’, or ‘Thank you’. I honestly believe there is something in the water there).

I looked up at her, and said “Jack London? I think we might have him in the children’s section”.

This was not the correct answer. “Children’s section! Why is he in the children’s section? He doesn’t write books for kids! He wouldn’t be happy about that.”

I almost said to her “Will you be telling him?” but I didn’t, as she was terrifying.

I tried to explain that the publishers produce his books with covers for adults, and also some of his books with covers for children. She shook her head at me, as if I was making this up, and walked away as I was still talking to her, pulling her little trolley along behind her.

Not so bad, really. She was very abrupt, and had absolutely no manners, but it didn’t bother me that much.

Then she came back.

It was a few weeks later, she came in pulling her trolley along, wearing a t-shirt with the American flag on the front, sunglasses on inside. And again she approached me.

“Where’s your American literature. I’m looking for writers like Jack London.”

“We don’t keep American authors separate, they’re all in the fiction section.”

“I’m looking for American authors like Steinbeck or Jack London. What Jack London do you have?”

Oh, God, I thought. We went through it again. I told her we only really have the children’s versions of White Fang and The Call of the Wild, and that yes, the publishers do this on purpose.

She shook her head dismissively. She still didn’t believe me. I asked her which Jack London she was after. She said she wanted The Iron Heel. I looked it up, and we didn’t have it, so I said “We could order it in for you or I can check other shops and you could pick it up-”

“I am NOT going to other shops”.

“….OK”

“I am looking for American Literature that is older. I don’t mind newer stuff, but I prefer older like Steinbeck or Salinger.”

So I walked her over to the fiction section and said, again “We keep all the fiction together, alphabetised by author. How about Paul Auster?”

“No”

“Have you tried Don DeLillo?”

“I don’t want that”

“….John Updike?”

“I did that when I was a child.”

After a few more suggestions, and a few more rejections, I eventually said “Well, it’s really a matter of just looking through the section and seeing what we have.”

And she huffed, and said  dismissively “Yes, yes. It’s really difficult, it must be very difficult for you, I know.”

So I left her to it, slightly exasperated and a bit fed up.

My manager had come onto the shop floor in the meantime, and I returned to the tills to have a little chat with him. The woman approached again, and I quietly said to him “Oh, no. I don’t want to speak with this lady.”

She walked by the tills as if to leave, and then stopped in front of us.

“You know,” she stated loudly, “Every time I come in here I am treated with disdain. You speak to me as if I am stupid. I know you are going to talk about me as soon as I leave. DON’T try to deny it! You will! I am sick of being spoken to in this way. This is a bad shop, and I won’t be spoken to as if I am nothing.”

She went on. All the while, we were both stood there, me trying to say “No, we won’t” Or “I’m sorry you feel that way”, but being interrupted, and my manager just looking on in shock.

Finally, to finish me off, she said “You remember this. I have written things. I write things! And you just work here. You just work here.”

And off she went.

She got me, this woman did. I was very shaken.

My manager said he should have done something, and he was sorry, but he was so shocked that he couldn’t react. I had to go off the shop floor and take some deep breaths.

I did see her again a few weeks later, but I scuttled upstairs and she left without speaking to anyone.

That is the story of the woman who I called my nemesis. She managed to make me feel very small, and I have no idea why.

And yes. If you are rude, we will always talk about you after you leave. We are human.

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