Smile! You're on....

Forgive me, I'm feeling a little evil today. But, honestly...

Can either of these people be real?

Or is it exactly as I first suspected in my journal entry from sixth grade:

I am the only "real" person. The rest of humanity is robots or aliens or something, and the universe is just this big science project with me as the subject. Or it's like a Habitrail. And whoever the supreme being is who created the Habitrail and put me in it and is thinking up all this junk to do to me, well, all I can say is he must be really, really bored.

Okay, give me a break, I was only eleven years old.

But honestly.

People 1

Ring, ring, ring!

Me: Hello! Big Gigantic Bookstore. This is Miss Halushki. How can I help you?

People No. 1: Uh, hullo...I was you sell maps?

Me: Why, yes, we do.

No. 1: (laughs) I guess I should be more precise...

He sounds like a middle-aged guy. Nice articulation, fine enunciation. No slurring or purring or squeaking into the phone. Not growling or belching or screaming over the hip-hop playing in the background. Just a straightforward question from a pleasant-sounding voice. Intelligent sounding. Perhaps he's going on sabbatical to England and needs a map of the tubes. Or he's driving to D.C. to take in the cherry blossoms. I'll assure him that yes, we have his map. I'll offer to put one on hold until he can get to the store, we'll exchange polite farewells, another satisfied customer, and then it's on my way to a 15-minute latte break.

Me: (amiable return laugh) Yes, we have a lot of maps. Are you looking for foreign or U.S.?

No.1: Well, what I'm looking for is a weather map.

Me: Hmmm...a weather map. I have to admit, I'm not sure what that is exactly. Is it for teaching?

No.1: Yes, I suppose you could use it for teaching. It's just a large map that shows the weather.

At this point, I'm still not sure that I'm understanding correctly. I continue to ask a few probing questions. Is it really a map, or is "weather map" some sort of idiomatic reference to a meteorological field guide? Is it a sort of wall chart listing types of weather? I'm fishing in murky waters here, getting no help from the customer, waiting for some clue that will lead to my inevitable "OH! A WEATHER map. Well why didnt' you just say so? I've only ever heard them referred to as a Brindorff-Giesler Whirly-Gigger Number 89, but you say they are also called 'weather maps'...ahhhhhh."

But no such luck.

No.1: A weather map. You the ones they have on the TV news? Or in the newspaper?

Me: you want one of the maps that the weather person uses so that you can chart the weather.

No.1: Well, yes...

Me: Ah-HAAAA...!

To this point, customer No. 1 has not expressed any hint of exasperation, and for this I am grateful. It's one thing to feel like a dolt; another to have someone frustrated with your doltitude. Although, wait for'll see what a precarious place I am finally put in: balancing on the fine edge of wondering whether I am still "not getting it" and yet strongly tempted to step onto the firm ground of bemusement and/or impatience - this phone call continued for about fifteen minutes, well into my caffeine time - risking bemusement or a note of professional impatience only after knowing for sure that I was indeed "getting it" and that the person on the other end of the line was, yes, a madman at most, lonely at least, and that there was no such thing as a "weather map".

No.1. But I need a map that has all the weather already on it. So, you could hang up the map and see what the weather is like in New York or in Texas...all over the United States.

Me: Ah.

No.1: All the weather.

Me: Uhhh...for

No.1: Yes! It would show you the weather for every day in every state. Yes! A weather map like that!

Me: So, you wouldn't draw the weather on yourself...

No.1: No!

Me: And it's not, say, a...computerized map?

No.1: No, it's a paper map you can hang on the wall.

Me: A paper map that would show the weather for, for instance, today...

No.1. Yes! The weather for today would already be there...

Me: ...and then...the weather for tomorrow and next week...

No. 1 And for tomorrow, and so on. ALL the weather on one map. Yes! Yes! A weather map like that!

Me: Ahhhh, yes, I understand exactly what kind of weather map you are talking about.

No.1: Great! Do you have one like that?

Me: No.

No.1: Oh. Well, do you know where I can get one?

Me: I would try the Big Gargantuan Bookstore down the street.

No.1: Oh yes? They might be able to help me?

Me: Yes. Maybe. I don't know.

No.1: Okay. Well, thank you for your help!

End of call.

Now...if someone here knows of such a weather map, I'll claim my dolt hat and wear it proudly. In fact, I'll eat it. More likely, if anyone sees this performance on either a) Candid Camera or, b) MTV's Boiling Point please let me know. I can always use another line on my acting resume.

People 2

I've taken-up a lot of blog space with that last bit, so I'll cut to the chase on this one.

This time the customer is in-store. Female. Late 50s. Dripping in gold jewelry; dresses, perhaps, a bit too young for her years wearing tight white cropped pants and a lime green belly shirt; teetering on strappy gold heels...but maybe she's on her way to Palm Beach. Who am I to say?

She catches me five minutes before the store is about to close, and here is her question. 25 points and a case of Yuengling Lager to the first person who can answer this one:

People No. 2: I'm looking for a book of Greek myths - oh, I had this book when I was a young girl - it's a collection of Greek myths, you know - "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Romeo and Juliet" - and each Greek story was only a few pages long with a little picture at the top and there was a moral at the end of each story. You know, like "Slow and steady wins the race" and "The customer is always right". Do you have that book?

Now in case you are wondering: yes.

Yes, I asked her whether the "Taming of the Shrew" and "Romeo and Juliet" she was thinking of were possibly the other versions as written by someone named Shakespeare and not Edith Hamilton. And yes, I pointed her in the direction of Aesop's Fabels. And, yup, we looked through several varieties of Greek and even Roman mythology. And of course, I was extremely gentle when suggesting that maybe she should limit her martini intake to five a day.

Just kidding.

Anyway...strike one, two and three.

So, again, if anyone knows of this book - or would be interested in writing it - I've got beer for you.

And by the way, she thanked me for being so helpful, wrote down my name, and said that she would call back in a few days to check on my progress in finding the book.

Oh...and one more peice of information that may prove to be the most useful in hunting down said tome:

It has a gray cover.


Jeannine said...

Here it is:

And a bargain at only $2,000.

You may always delegate these little tasks to me, lol again. said...

I am positively sure that this is the book.

However, I am also sure that this customer will look in the Table of Contents (as she did with every other book I presented her with), not find "Taming of the Shrew" and tell me that in fact, this is NOT the book.

It was like arguing with a Mobius strip. I'd think, "Finally...she understands that what she's talking about is three different genres - or three different books at least." But no. We're back to the famous Greek myth, Macbeth.

Thank you for your leg work. (Finger work.) I'll print out the link and keep it handy. I know she'll come in again looking for me. I got that vibe. said...

P.S. I owe you a beer.

nadzent said...

Oh yes! If this person should happen to call again, or come into the Big Ginormous Bookstore in which you work - send him to the Harrisburg Train Station (assuming there is one) Platform #6 1/2 (or is 9 1/2?) and to then hop on the Hogwarts Express. I believe they sell "Weather Maps' of the type he seeks in a little shop in Diagon Alley...

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