Sunday, 5 June 2011

weird things customers say in bookshops #3

[Due to the forthcoming book release of 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops', I've removed some of the 'Weird Things...' quotes from this blog. 

You can still find some here and here, and you can find all the information on the book over here]. 

Thank you. xx


  1. OMG @aeroplanegirl you've done it again. Made coffee fly out of nose. Thanks for that btw.


  2. "Do any of those have Robert Pattinson in them?" *snarfle* Maybe she should try HP & the Goblet of Fire? Poor Cedric. :-)

  3. Ha! I totally should have presented her with GoF. Oh man. Poor poor Cedric, indeed.

  4. Excellent! Made me laugh a lot. Thank you.

  5. I used to work in Boots the chemist on the photography department.

    An unprepossessing elderly couple approached me one day.
    "Excuse me, do you stock vibrators?"
    [Me = clamped down hard on urge to burst out laughing and managed - somehow - to direct them to another suitable emporium]

  6. Thank you for the welcome; I'm one of those who found you via Neil Gaiman's blog.
    These are an amazing collection... funny; and sometimes sad, too, but mostly funny.
    Do you write them down as they happen? Some of those conversations are pretty elaborate; I would not remember them after some time, even though some of them would probably be hard to forget. :-)
    I wonder whether the Dover man is still wandering the British Isles in search of the sea... I think that one's my favourite. It's such a romantic idea! :D

  7. I found you via Fountain Bookstore on twitter.

    I worked in a gift shop/bookstore for five years. We had our fair share of uh interesting customers! Most of them centered around our magazine section...the over 18 magazine section to be more specific. The one story that will stick in my mind for a long time is when I saw a guy in that section with his hands down his pants. I was still pretty young at the time so I wasn't going near him. I told the manager and her response was 'oh yeah I know him. If he's still there in a few minutes let me know' ***Say What?!?!**. Needless to say I walked away from her shocked!

    Another thing that brought us employees constant enjoyment is an enclosed glad case that held figurines. Customers would always be trying to pick up the figurines...without opening the case. Thinking back it may have been mean to get such pleasure from it but hey you have to get through the days somehow, right!?

    I'm looking forward to reading the first two posts of your customer tales!


  8. Sorry for my typo, that was supposed to say enclosed glass case

  9. All brilliant (and just caught up with #1 and #2 as well)! Have you read Sarah Crowley's post on her 'interesting' customers?

  10. Unfortunately in a customer facing role, slapping is probably out of the question. I bet you'd love to sometimes, though!

    Found my way here via Twitter, and so glad I did. Thanks, Jen - very entertaining.

  11. My favourite is definitely Dover Man!

  12. HAHAHAHA! those are greeaaatt!

  13. beautiful...again. It's fun when people you don't know start quizzing you about your medical conditions /sarcasm

  14. heaven forbid you try and quiz them about theirs ;)

  15. love love love! I used to work in a second hand bookshop here in australia, and we once had a customer come in and call my coworker a 'supersilious fartarse' (because we wouldn't buy her second hand books). i still remember that to this day. good times. xo

  16. I wonder if that man asking for maps uses them to chart the moving scents of sea breezes? Maybe that's how he follows his nose to the sea...I would love to meet that guy!

    These are great little anecdotes. I'm sorry about the EEC/customer insensitivity thing, that mustn't be fun...

  17. My freind Will suggested this site and I am glad I came. Funny stuff. You should add a section with fake dead parrots. I bet they would sell.

  18. This is great stuff, though for balance I feel the need to pass on Weird Thing Booksellers Say Too. Particularly this one overheard by Alan Bennett (from his diaries).

    Staffer (looking up request): Is that GEOFFREY Chaucer?

  19. Fret not, I know it happens the other way round too - I once had a guy in Waterstone's tell me that they didn't have any Virginia Woolf in stock, because he'd looked up 'Wolf,' and then wouldn't believe me when I suggested he'd typed it in wrong.

  20. I think part of what makes these so funny is the way you write them, in dialogue form with the perfect punctuation for them. Awesome!

  21. I work at a bookstore, and this is my favorite recent one:

    CALLER: I'm looking for 12 copies of [title]
    ME: *looking it up* I'm sorry, it looks like that book is out of print.
    CALLER: It can't be out of print! I have a copy right here in my hand!!

  22. Oh dear. The wierdest thing said to a bookseller is the 'Vajeener' monologue, recounted to Adrian Bott by A Lady. Who was, it seems, an expert on Lady Diana.

    Details here:

    ...Which inspired a comic-strip here:

    Enjoy. And consider this: whatever else Cavalorn ever writes, he will be remembered for 'Vajeener'.

  23. I've sent a link of your blog to my daughter, who is a Starbucks Barista, so that she knows she's not alone. Thanks for the chuckles.

  24. "Customer: *nastily* If you can write, can I have a receipt?
    Me: If you can read, I'll write you one."

    You. Go. Girl.

  25. Hi,
    i worked for both Waldenbooks & Barnes & Noble for a total combined 20 years and I have heard it all too!! My favorites:
    1. Do you have that book by whats-his-name? It had a green cover
    2. Excuse me, do you work here? Me (on a ladder putting books away) - nope, just like putting books away in bookstores.
    3. Customer: Where is the Fiction section? (standing in front of the Fiction section)
    Me - turn around please
    Customer: No, I want the books that aren't NonFiction!
    4. Customer: has John Steinbeck written anything new lately? (Customer holding a copy of Grapes of Wrath when Oprah picked it as a book club pick).
    Me: uh no, Steinbeck has been dead for over 40 years?
    Customer: He's dead? I don't read books by dead people!
    5. Customer attempting to return a book that they broke the spine off, highlighted every other sentence, and pages are falling out, but they have the receipt
    Me: I'm sorry this book can't be returned, it is not in saleable condition.
    Customer: But i have the receipt, and you can reprint it in the back can't you?

    And my favorite:
    Harry Potter VI came out the night before, bad storm in the area overnight, the power went out, no registers, had to close store until power back on.
    Customer (outside store, face pressed up against glass door): I have to get my Harry Potter book NOW!PLEASE!!!
    ME: I am sorry, but we cannot open until the power comes back on
    Customer: But I have waited two years for the book, I have to know how it ends NOW!! Don't you know how much money I spend here?
    ME: Well obviously not enough, or the store would not be closing at the end off the year.
    Customer: I want to speak to your manager!
    Me (walks away into the shadows around a bookcase and comes up to the door): Hi I am the manager, how may I help you?
    Customer: ....(walks away in a huff - comes back 4 hours later after the store reopens and gets his book, does not say a word to me).

  26. "Customer: *nastily* If you can write, can I have a receipt?
    Me: If you can read, I'll write you one."

    ::applause:: Right on!

    I hate people who are deliberately nasty to anyone who's different. They deserve any snarkiness that comes their way, and then some!

  27. Wow, I can't believe people would say such mean things about your hands! It's not as though it's contagious, geez.

    I work in a cosmetics shop and have to touch people's hands regularly to demo on them, so have seen hands and skin of all types, including those with missing fingers/tips, or deformities. The owners of said hands often seemed surprised and pleased that I am happy to touch them the way I would any other customer, without passing comment. I guess I now know why!

  28. Emma - people like you make the world much better x

  29. Better to have a slightly different body than an obviously different brain, which is what most of these people obviously have. I once worked as a nurse on a ward where many of the little children were different in one way or another and they were all beautiful!

  30. Thank you. It's comforting, but also scary, to see that all the crazies aren't in the US. Unfortunately, the UK also seems to have its share of parents who won't leash or look after their bookshelf-climbing, misbehaving noisy little terrors.

  31. Working in a bookshop, I can relate to this on so many levels :)

    Staff have always said someone ought to release a book with the weird things you get asked so this will provide much amusement when it is published

  32. Oh I love the Twilight one so much!!