The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #33

Sometimes we call people to let them know their books have come in.

Me: *rings number*
Man, in Dutch: “Yes?”
Me, in Dutch: “This is Bookshop [Name], I’m calling to let you know that the book you ordered-”
Man, in English: “Speak English!”
Me, switching to English: “Oh, I’m sorry. This is Bookshop [Name]. I’m calling to let you know that the book you ordered has come in, so you can come by to pick it up.”
Man: “What?”
Me, more slowly: “Your book, Life Advanced, has come in. You can come by our shop to pick it up.”
Man: “You are where?”
Me, wondering how he has not remembered visiting us when he ordered the book: “We’re opposite city hall.”
Man: “City hall, which department are you in?”
Me: “No, we’re Bookshop [Name], opposite city hall.”
Man: “What?”
Me, more slowly and a little louder: “Bookshop [Name], on [Street], opposite city hall.”

This went on for a while. Firstly, rude, dude. Whatever happened to “Could you please…”? Secondly, Life Advanced is a textbook for an advanced level English language course. This was the second time in as many weeks that someone spoke to me on the phone in this manner; it may have been the same guy twice, but I can’t be sure. Either way, what the hell are they doing taking an advanced English course if they’re at this level?

And thirdly, what is up with people who keep answering their phones with just “Yes” or “Hello”? You’d think they’d have enough confusing conversations to reconsider this strategy…

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #30

A while ago an author was in our shop to present her new book. It was a party, kind of, organised by us and the publisher. She signed the book for people who were there at the time, and also signed some extra copies for our shop. Her signature is basically just her name with a small flourish, nothing ‘fancy’ or illegible.

About a week later, a couple comes in looking for that specific book. So I show them where it is, and tell them she was here recently and signed some of the books. The guy takes the signed book I hand him, looks at the signature on the first page, then looks at me suspiciously and says: “And she signed this herself?”

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #29

People here seem to think that contactless payment is now possible in every shop everywhere. It is not. I regularly have to point out to customers that we, like many other shops, are still ‘old-fashioned’ and they have to stick their pin card in the machine instead of waving it in front of some imaginary WiFi signal reader.

One guy, however, looks at the machine after I’ve pointed this out, and says: “Well, it’s not very clearly indicated, so…”

It’s a regular pin machine. Looks exactly the same as in many other shops. Has an obvious slot at the front where you put your card. And, unlike actual contactless payment machines, it does not have a massive sign saying “Look at this WiFi symbol, contactless payment here!”

Whatever happened to common sense?

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #28

Girl comes in looking for a study book. All she has is a note of the title and author’s name on her phone.

…without any use of capitalisation and so severely messed up by autocorrect that it took me a few minutes to figure out that, for instance, the author was called Drumbl and not ‘crumble’.

How hard is it to check your spelling?

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #26

Most tourists, international students and other non-Dutch people usually point out to me, after I start speaking Dutch to them, that they don’t understand me. Could please speak English? Yes, of course. No problem. I spent four and a half years working towards a degree to prove the fact that I know how to speak English.

Some, however, just say: “Hm?” and look at me as though they expect me to be able to magically divine that they don’t speak Dutch. This mostly results in a conversation where I repeat my question several times, until it becomes clear to me that no, they didn’t just not hear me correctly, they didn’t understand me at all.

Me: “Is het een cadeautje?”
Customer: *looks at me weirdly* “Hm?”
Me: “Is het een cadeautje?”
Customer: *tilts head slightly, funny look increases*
Me: “Oh. Is it a gift?”
Customer: “No.”

Followed by no explanation whatsoever.


People are weird.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #24

One of the things that annoys me most is how often, when I’m gift wrapping a book, people ask: “Did you remove the price tag?”

Yes. Yes, I did. I’m not an idiot.

I can understand some people may have previous experiences concerning price tags left on wrapped gifts. So, no, the people who jokingly point out that they’re double checking out of a silly sense of paranoia don’t bother me. The ones who bother me are the people who look at me as if I’m a worthless nitwit and literally turn the book over while I’m still holding it, to see for themselves if perhaps I’m not lying about that sticker.

I’ve taken to ostentatiously peeling off the stickers in full view of the customers, tilting the books in such a fashion that people can see that, yes, I am actually taking off the price tags. I feel ridiculous doing it, but at least it works.

Most of the time.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #23

Lady comes in to pick up a book she ordered over the phone. It’s a French book.

Lady: “Your colleague’s French is terrible. I can’t believe it. I expect someone who works in a bookshop to know how to speak French.”
Me: “…I’ll be sure to let him know.”

He said her French was even worse.