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…

Advertisements

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #32

Got a phone call at work the other day.

Me: “This is Bookshop [Name], good afternoon. Erika speaking.”
Other end of the line: *is silent*
Me, thinking I may have done that thing where I speak so fast I finish saying hello before the line actually connects: “Bookshop [Name], good afternoon?”
Other end of the line: *is still silent*
Me: “Hello?”
Man, after another long silence: “Hello.”
Me: “This is Bookshop [Name], what can I do for you?”
Man: “Hello.”
Me: “Hello. Who is this?”
Man: “Nobody.”
Me: “I don’t think I can help you, sir. Goodbye.”

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 – #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.

THIS COULD BE SO MUCH EASIER AND LESS TIME-CONSUMING.

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.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #22

The man I talked about before came back yesterday. He looked grumpy from the moment he came in, so I prepared myself to smother him with kindness.

You should know yesterday was the first day of the Dutch Book Week, a national event that involves bookshops promoting Dutch books and giving away a small book with each purchase of over €12,50 (a book especially written for this purpose).

Man puts book on the counter. I pretend not to notice he’s the same guy as before, and act as I usually do.
Me: “That’ll be €25,10 please.”
Man pays with a bank card without saying anything. I hand him the receipts.
Me: “Can I offer you the Book Week Gift?”
Man, impatiently: “No.”
Me: “Would you like a bag?”
Man, testily: “No.”
I hand him the book and he immediately hands it back to me, practically barking: “Remove the price tag.”
Me, cheerfully: “Of course, no problem.” I remove the sticker and hand the book back to him. “Have a nice day!”
He leaves without a word.

Being this grouchy all the time must be exhausting.