I find Martha Stewart's newest household hint bible out of place and hidden on a lower shelf. I guess everyone has their weak spots....guys hide Playboys....and professional women (?) secretly scan Martha's hints?
I like to take a random peek inside books as I take them back to their proper places. So I flip the bible open and find this helpful suggestion for hospitable living,
This stops me in the aisle. I read it again. There's even a picture of slippers in a wicker basket. Now this is why you gotta love working in a bookstore. Did I know it's in supreme good taste to have slippers in a basket for my guests? Obviously, I have missed some kind of boat, a slipper boat, a look-at-how-cool-I -am-boat.
And what kind of slippers would I buy for my guests? Terry cloth ones with an embroidered logo like you would see in a fine hotel? Dark felt ones that shout...Gina is so classy she's making you wear Millionaire-type togs? Listen..... if I ever had a basket of slippers for my guests....I would fill it with furry Elmos, huge Bart Simpson heads and of course the traditional lion, tiger and kitten heads. At least this way, slipper-picking would be like a personality test for your guest....a tall handsome man choosing kitten head slippers could mean....I'm good looking but warm and loving, I'm gay, or my mommy would never buy me these when I was little.
The phones start ringing and the first person is looking for "The Secret." Yes, this new Oprah mentioned book is hot on the sales list and long gone from our bookstore. I feel a tiny ittty bitty urgent to be snotty and say something like "Well we don't have the book, but I'll tell you what the secret is.....drink raw eggs in a cup of coffee twice a day.....or never waste your money on books trying to tell you secrets." But I'm nice...it's too early...to be mentally snotty.....and I need to save my energy for the rest of the day.
Mental snottiness is an art. When you first start in retail....you actually care and hurt every time a customer treats you poorly. But with time, you learn to protect yourself from unreasonable, silly, obnoxious people by telling the customer off mentally....while you smile sweetly. At first, just like a child learning to read, new people in retail might move their lips. They're youngsters and still learning. But pros like us....who have been in retail for at least three years....can smile and say to you....."Oh let me see what I can do for you".....while we are mentally saying....."YOU big ugly jerk....you festering pustule of a human being.....you ......." Well you get my drift.
Just last week, I was in a store and complaining about something when I RECOGNIZED the smile I was GETTING. Hmmmm.....I had to do a quick assessment to see if I was being a jerk.
A nice soccer-looking mom comes up to the information desk with a scribbled note in hand. "I'm looking for......Thighs on Fire." I don't even raise an eyebrow. Sounds like a sexuality book....I'm way cool with that...and type it in.....in a business-like manner.
"Did you mean....Set his thighs on fire: 86 red hot lessons?" I look up from the computer and the woman has turned white. OOOPs.....she mustn't have the right title.
"Okay....let me help you find the right book." Her embarrassment is so palpable I want to pat her hand and say honey its alright....it's between you and me."
"Tell me more about the book you're looking for........" Through a jumble of clues....I finally get the right book....Edie: Girl on Fire.....the story of one of Andy Warhol's cosmopolitan friends that died at age 28 from a fast life. The woman is relieved.
A customer asks me a question about a magazine and I head for the stacks. While looking for this particular mag, a woman sitting on the bench with a cup of tea in her hand starts complaining.
"This tea has been too hot to drink for ten minutes."
I am stunned by what a pure idiot she is....and what does she expect me to do about it? Take the lid off off her cup and blow on her tea?
For this....I should get a medal in customer service.....I smile ...the SMILE.....and calmly and sweetly say......."Perhaps an ice cube from the cafe might help?"
Where is the president of my chain bookstore when I should be given an award for restraint...because really I should of grabbed a magazine and smacked this woman over the head.