True Customer Tales: Christmas Eve Special

A sparklingly well groomed fellow with a black tie over a blood red dress shirt comes to the counter.

"Hey bro, do you have any books in French?"

I direct him to the section.

"Hey, thanks bro!"

I return to the register and ring some sales.
A few minutes later he sets a book on the counter.

"Find a winner?" I ask.
"I have NO IDEA, bro!" he replies, pulling out his credit card.

You have to love a guy who spends $20 on a book he knows nothing about.

This is also a heavy traffic day for the elderly gentlemen who live in the residence hotel across the street.

They are nearly to a man annoying as hell, an uneasy combination of privilege, bluster and desperation which is unpleasant to be near.  But I'm making an effort to be more charitable during the holidays on the assumption that any life with an endpoint at a Government financed old folks warehouse deserves a little sympathy.

I got a call from Jack, who presents like a Fortune 500 CEO while asking if you'll put a book back on the dollar cart because it turns out his friend already had a copy.

Hawiian Shirt Guy stopped in.  If you've ever walked past the Peet's across the street you've likely seen him mooking people at the outside tables- he is a square jawed exemplar of  the Mad Man ethos, except that at some point he wandered out of the office building and when he came back the door was locked.  He spent a few hours (no exaggeration) roooting through the 19th century fiction we've got stored near the counter, asking me endless questions about properly identifying first editions.  Then someone he'd known years ago came in, and he began a heroic ear-chewing which lasted, at a conservative estimate, another 45 minutes.

And yeah, his life story was about what I expected.  Divorced, ex-wife died 15 years ago, two daughters who don't live in the area and apparently won't have him for Christmas, grandchildren he doesn't see.

Destroying your marriage and alienating your children in pursuit of a career that hacks you out into a hotel for failures? A little patience with his quirks and irritations seems  warranted.

I think my new forbearance may already be paying karmic dividends.

An obviously crazy not-quite-homeless old guy came in a bit ago, mistook an unfortunate customer standing by the door for someone who worked here and proceeded to impale them on a speed freak bi-polar life story/request for a likely non-existent SF book based on a vague plot outline involving a space cabbie.
It went on for a good while before the customer figured out there would be no letup and sidled out the door....drawing the nutter with them, a white knuckle grip on the handle of their own lunatic harpoon propelling them up the sidewalk.

A Merry Christmas indeed!

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