Update 11 Today two old people came in from the cruise ship (cruise shippers are easily identifiable compared to the usual tourists and charter guests by the clothes they wear). They had walked down from the cruise ship dock which is about 1/2 mile away at least. They said that my sign said that I had a cafe and internet. Yes, I said, it's upstairs. They said they couldn't make it upstairs, could I bring them down a coffee and could they just check their email on my laptop. I explained that upstairs was now a roti palace, not a coffee shop. They asked where the nearest coffee shop was. I said there was a bakery just up the road. They didn't want to go there because they were hot and tired and I had airconditioning. The man then said (get ready for this):
What if I give you a couple of bucks to go and get us two old people some coffees and we'll watch your store for you and just check our email (on one of my computers I presume) while your gone.
What???? They didn't like being told nope, no way, not going to happen, this is a bookshop, I sell books, I don't fetch coffees, I don't leave my business in strangers's hands, I don't lend my computers...
I tried to stay polite, but the old man just got rude and nasty. He told me that in American people would have rushed to help old people like them, that he was a veteran and that meant something there and that's why America was GREAT apart from that (n word here) Obama. But that's what you got when you came to these islands run by (n word in the plural here). Gee....
They left. The old woman was giving me apologetic looks for her husband. She looked really, really embarrassed. But she never said a word.
Actually it didn't quite happen like that. He was a lot ruder and nastier and went red like he was going to have a heart attack.
10. The Haitian Mambo. I had a customer come in yesterday, tall, light-skinned black, clothed head to toe in white. She said, "Have you got any books on the Orishas or Ifa." I said no but that I did have a wonderful biography of Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn.
She said, "I am a Mambo" (a voodoo priestess). She said she wanted some how-to books on Yoruba practice, but not anything on Cuban Santeria which wasn't as authentic. I tried to look like I was really knowledgeable (I knew what she was talking about but not much more) and she then tried to get me to actually stock and sell voodoo books and guaranteed me a market. The island, like most of the Caribbean is deeply Christian (and equally deeply into Obeah, but that is mostly for getting money and putting curses on people), but Voodoo! Wow. Some years ago the government banned the import of dolls from Jamaica or Haiti and we all knew it was the voodoo dolls being banned, but to actually talk to a Mambo.
So she's coming in Thursday with a booklist for me to get for her. That should be interesting. I love customers like this. This is going to be fun.
9. I received this today from a local author that wants me to promote his book which is about pirates in the Caribbean. Among other things.
"If a signing is combined with a talk about UFOs in the Carib (which I can handle), it might gain attention. The Carib really is a hot bed of sightings and I can cite a Brit Ministry of Defence researcher who has written recent books and a hearing held by the House of Lords in the 1970s.
This is among the factual material in my book."
Would you go to a book-signing like this?
There is an 'interesting' discussion on point 9 on BookLikes. There seem to be a lot of Goodreads expats who have completely lost the plot :-D
8. A teenager, about 16, came in the shop and picked up a whole pile of cookbooks worth over $200. She went to the counter and said she didn't know which one she wanted but she would like to rent them for the weekend, take them home and read them and then she could decide which one she wanted to buy.
After much conversation it emerged that the girl who attended the American school, fees $1600 per month, had to do a school project involving recipes and thought that renting them - she offered $5 or $10 for the whole pile - would be the cheapest.
It was explained to her that we only sold new books unless they were rare Caribbeana, so if she took them home, they would no longer be new. She said she would be careful and wouldn't tell anyone!
I said to her that she should go to the library. She didn't know there was one on the island (she was born here, but is white American and a lot of those families don't mix at all with local society). So we directed her to the library. She said she really didn't want to have to go up 'there'. She didn't know if her mother would like it, she said, because you never know 'who' would be there. (Meaning that I as a white person would understand that and sympathise with her attitudes towards locals and help her out. Me! Lol. Nah!)
So, twisting her hair, looking fliratious she asked if we would mind if she came in for a couple of days and went through the books and if she could photocopy any of the recipes and pictures she needed.
No. Absolutely not. She was not a happy camper leaving.
7. Man comes into the shop and orders the hardback edition of Machiavelli's The Prince. Clerk asks him for a deposit. He gives her $10. She asks him his name to give him a receipt.
"Bond, James Bond." Clerk who is very young and West Indian does not think this is anything but his real name.
She writes a receipt for him and asks him for his cell or email to contact him when the book arrives. He gives her his cell no. She gives him the receipt.
He says, "I was only joking about my name being James Bond, my real name is Tom Jones." So she crosses out James Bond on the receipt and writes Tom Jones.
Customer goes to the door and then turns round and says, "Do you know who James Bond is? Or Tom Jones?"
Clerk is very confused and says, "Is this a trick question?"
Yes, he says, and leaves. Clerk skypes me and I say well try his cell number and see if you get a name back. She tries. No such number.
So he's buying Machiavelli and given us a possibly false name and a non-existent phone number. Presumably he will come into the shop next week to ask for his book. But what on earth did he do it for?
6. Lady goes into my bookshop with a $16.99 book and asks the clerk for the money back on it because her mother-in-law bought it for her son's first birthday and he already has it. Clerk says she has no record of the book being sold to the MIL. In fact she doesn't know who the MIL is. Lady says that she must do, that she is a regular customer of ours and that's why she bought the book from us, knowing that if the child already had it we would refund her.
Clerk phones me. I tell her that I know the MIL quite well. That she has NEVER been in my bookshop in all the years I've had it and that she is a snotty, lying bitch who probaby bought it cheap on Amazon and is passing it off as ours.
I phone the lady, a lawyer, who wants to return the book. I say I have searched our records and we haven't sold this particular title for over a year and that her MIL, who I said as far as I am aware has never been in the bookshop, must be mistaken and must have bought it elsewhere on the island (she didn't, no-one else sells it.
Lady gives me a mouthful. I must be the one mistaken because if her MIL says that she bought it there, then I just wasn't in the shop and my clerk must be inefficient or a liar, possibly didn't write the book down and kept the money for herself, yadayadayada.
She says she will tell everyone not to come to my shop if I have these sort of principles and I'm just out to make a quick... and no customer service and that she would never buy a book from me again. That's no loss, until she wanted a 'refund' for the book, she'd never been in anyway.
I ask her politely to please check with her MIL to be sure where she bought it. Lady puts phone down on me.
I saw the MIL in the street a couple of days later and as per usual she cut style on me, pretended she hadn't seen me. She's been doing this for ten years now. Bought it in my shop, my arse!
Funny thing is, the lawyer's just been made a partner as she gets on so well with the clients...
(view spoiler)[This is not a review of this funny book. I'm just going to post (view spoiler)[(by request of Xox) (hide spoiler)] the weirds thing customers say in my bookshop. Top one will always be the latest. (hide spoiler)]
5. Lady who endlessly gets us to research books for her and then never orders them comes in and sits down on the chair at the cash desk and pulls out her sticky, iced cake from the cafe up the road and begins to eat it. She eats a bit and then carefully licks her fingers free of crumbs before starting to flick through some books on the desk.
I ask if I can help her and she says it is so hot outside do I mind if she justs sits down while she waits for her friend (my place has chill aircon). I say well you can't eat here, I don't want to attract rats and insects. She says she will be careful not to drop crumbs. I say I really don't like eating around books because if they get marked I can't sell them. She says that's all right she won't touch anything. I don't know what to say, so I leave her.
Her friend comes in, pulls up a chair and brings out her own lunch also from the cafe. I say, look I'm sorry to interrupt you all, but this is a bookshop, I think you should go back to the cafe and eat your lunch there.
"But it's so hot up there and it's nice and cool here."
"I'm sorry, but I really will have to insist that you not eat in here. It's not a cafe, it's a bookshop."
They get up to go, not really in a bad mood. The first one says, would you mind just photocopying this for me before I go? And if you have an envelope to put it in...? (her fingers are really greasy).
I say look, really I have a bookshop, not a print shop, not a cafe, I don't sell stationery.
The second lady says, but if you want to keep customers you have to go out of your way for them.
I say I don't think either of you have bought anything here for over a year.
True she says, I have a Kindle now. But come Christmas I might.
I am now right at the end of my tether and they sense this and leave dropping crumbs. Right at the very last minute, the first one crumples up the foil she had the cake in and says, "Do you have a garbage bin?"
4. "I asked your clerk for four books last week, but I only want one of them now."
"That's fine. Can you tell the clerk which one you want and give her a deposit, please?" (I am in the office, this is on skype from my shop).
"I found the other books cheaper online. Amazon."
"Yes, I expect you did."
"Thing is that it is very expensive to get them from xxxx to the island, I'd have to use a courier. Would you mind if I had them sent to your post box in xxxx? Perhaps you could bring them for me when you bring the books for the shop. I'd be so grateful."
"That is why we charge extra, and it is only $2 per book, because it costs me $55 to go and pick the books up."
"Does that mean you won't bring them for me?"
"I will be happy to if you order them from me."
"But then I won't save any money on Amazon."
"Let me put it this way. You wouldn't ask someone in Publix to go and pick up stuff from Pueblo for you because Pueblo are cheaper. So why ask me to pick up stuff from another book retailer for free?"
"Ok, I understand. If you sell them to me at Amazon price I will buy them from you."
It gets very tedious after that....
3. "Do you have any books in Latin?"
"No, what are you looking for?"
"A novel, historical fiction."
"Do you mean something about Latinos?"
"No, a book in Latin, the language."
"I don't know if there are any novels in Latin."
"Oh there are, my friend bought one here."
"What was the title?"
"I don't know. It had a yellow cover."
"I really don't know what it could be, do you think you could ask your friend and phone me and let me know?"
"Yes, I'll come in tomorrow."
"By the way, do you read Latin?"
(That was yesterday, they haven't come back today, yet).
The mind boggles. The only book I've ever had to do with Latin in the shop is X-treme Latin which I liked because of the chapter on using the various Latin words for fuck when furious with major road rage.
Two to start with the first from yesterday and the second this morning.
1. "Do you have Protocols of the Elders?"
"No. You do know it's a fake don't you?"
"Yes, everyone knows that but its got a lot of interesting things to say about the Jews."
"But it's fake!"
"It doesn't mean the stuff about the Jews isn't true."
He then asked me if I could get it for him. I said I could and he would need to pay for it upfront. He said he wanted to look at it first to make up his own mind if it was true or not before buying it. I said well I wasn't getting it if he didn't pay for it, then he said,
"The Imam said you wouldn't get it because you are a Jew."
So, just some test? I get weirdos like that all the time.
2. "Do you have internet?" (Cruise ship passenger)
"Yes, it's $5 for 30 mins."
"But I only want to check my email, can't I just do that?
"Well no, sorry, it is a business."
"What about if I buy a book will you let me just check it then?"
"Great, thanks. Can I just check it first?"
Customer leaves cursing.
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