Tuesday, September 23, 2008


It seems like it's time to leave this all behind. While gaining these anecdotes was almost never fun, writing about them was.

Should anyone require more tales of faintly productive employment and the effluvia one will tend to brush against in it's execution, I direct you to the mighty Not Always Right, repository of some fine and baffling tales of retail terror.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Call To Arms.

We are at an impasse. The Horde have brought joy to many several, but we three no longer encounter them on a day-to-day basis, and can no longer report on their fertile leavings. In short, we need a new generation of retail anthropologists to, for all intents and purposes, spy on random strangers and kick them while they're down.

Applicants should possess:
  • A burning hatred for all mankind, borne forth like a torrent from their black, barren hearts.

  • A genuine belief in their own superiority, despite working as low-level retail drones for longer than can reasonably be considered an extended adolescence.

  • Access to firearms. It can get messy out there. A few claymores would not go amiss.

  • Excellent grammar and spelling.

This fabulous offer is open to anyone in retail who can spin a good yarn, has an eye or ear for the absurd, and who thrives on the humiliation of people whose only crime was to be slightly daft.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Nobody's Business but the...

I'm not sure my prose alone is enough to convey the grunting wretchedness of this particular customer, but I shall try, dear readers, I shall try.

Said troglodyte came bounding up to one of the patented Goliathtm information desks, red in the face. How could he, he asked, be expected to write the article he had due for the next morning when our books are in such a state? The spit-flecked golem in question apparently needed a Lonely Planet guide to Turkey. For his article on Turkey. For some reason, it was imperative that he essentially copy out selected highlights of a travel guide and pass it off as his own work right then and there.

Feigning sympathy to his predicament, or at least blood pressure, I wandered over to the Travel section with him. Along the way, he explained to me that he had found books on Turkey in two completely separate places. I nodded, and made the appropriate cooing noises to soothe him. Arriving at the shelves, he indicated these places. He pointed to the end of one shelf. "There," he said, casting his eyes about for the rest of the books, "and there."

Triumphantly, he pointed to the beginning of the shelf below the first he'd indicated. He clearly believed he'd discovered an example of the most gross stupidity. So, when I pointed out to him that this was merely the next shelf, his face fell.

And it was fucking glorious. He stumbled about for a while, making bold claims that, really, the alphabet should run along the whole length of the section at the same height (about fifteen metres or so in this case), then go down a row of shelves. I didn't have the heart to explain that the system we were using has been tried and tested by bookstores and libraries the world over.

I could see that part of him had died that day. And, until my self-righteousness is similarly punctured by some carpeted homonculus, that thought will keep me warm at night.

Guest post - Orwell on the universality of cretinism

I came across this on the facebook page of a fellow bookseller. As my newly office-bound life has been short of good Horde stories so far, thought I'd share George Orwell's thoughts on bookselling. Interesting that George Eliot seems to be a sticking point.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

'Cause Sick People Are Hi - Larious.

"Why doesn't your medical reference section have any humour books?"

Thanks for Noticing.

On the phone with an American gentleman, about two years ago:

"Hey, I was looking for (such and such) study bible, would you guys happen to have that?"

I looked it up, and no we did not.

"No, I'm afraid we don't. We can order you one, but it's only published in the US, so it'll take a few weeks."

"No, that's fine. I should have expected as much from your godless, secular society."

He rather abruptly hung up. I was left bemused and joyous.

Monday, January 28, 2008


A couple of nights ago, a woman stopped me by the art books, and started, quite frantically, to ask a series of questions. I stood and stared at her blankly. She then added wild gesticulation to the mix, and seemed genuinely surprised to be getting no response at all. She stopped for a moment, sighed, and then said: "I'm sorry, I was speaking Dutch, wasn't I?"

Yes. Yes, you were.