As much as I may like books, the (very romantcised) idea of working in a bookshop has never appealed to me, … because the thought (based on my memory) of having to deal with the general public is enough to cure any illusion one may have about being surrounded by books and readers all day.
And what further proof that the general public is nuts does one need other than Jen Campbell’s slim volume of reported exchanges between customers and booksellers?
Not all of the exchanges made me laugh out loud, but there are some crackers in there.
Two of my favourites, and I’m sure everyone will have their own:
Customer: Do you have a book with a list of careers? I want to give my daughter some inspiration.
Bookseller: Ah, is she applying to university?
Customer: Oh no, not yet. She’s just over there. Sweetheart? (a four year old girl comes over)
Customer: There you are. Now, you talk to the nice lady, and I’m going to find you a book on how to become a doctor or a scientist. What do you think about that? (The girl says nothing.)
Customer (to Bookseller): Won’t be a sec.
Bookseller: So, what’s your name?
Bookseller: Sarah. That’s a beautiful name.
Child: Thank you.
Bookseller: So, Sarah, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Child: … A bumblebee.
Customer: Do you stock Nigella Lawson under ‘Sex’ or ‘Cookery’?
Bookseller: It’s a tough call, isn’t it?