Welcome to Planet Earth

The following quotes, excerpts and exchanges are all 100% true and are not in anyway Frey-ed to enhance the entertainment value. Names have been changed to protect the employment status of the not-so-innocent.


Bored Bookstore Cashier: Dum-dee-dum. Two more hours till my latte break.

A middle-aged woman with a very festive scarf in her very enthusiastic hair and wearing long, beaded earrings plops a stack of books at the register.

Cashier begins scanning books and ringing-up sale.

Cashier: (deciding between hazelnut or almond latte) Your total is $95.48. Will that be cash or credit?

Customer: Excuse me?

Cashier: (deciding on hazelnut latte) Your total is $95.48. Is that cash or credit?

Customer: I’d just like to check these out.

Cashier: (changing mind, thinking almond would be nice) I’m sorry. You just wanted to…look at these?

Customer: I’d like to check these out. How do I get a card?

Cashier: (shall I get whipped cream?) A card? A discount card?

Customer: A library card. I’d like to check these out.

Cashier: (decaf or double espresso?) A…uh…this is a bookstore.

Customer: Okay. Can I just borrow these?

Cashier: (triple) Well, you see, it’s a bookstore. You have to buy the books to take them home.

Customer: Oh no! I don’t want to do that! I just need a new card to borrow them for a few weeks.

Cashier: (with alcohol) Okay. There is a library down the street…

Customer: Okay…

Cashier: …where you can get a card and borrow books…

Customer: Uh-huh.

Cashier: …but we’re a bookstore.

Customer: Yes.

Cashier: We sell books. We aren’t a library.

Customer: But the library doesn’t have these books.

Cashier: Hmmm…well, the individual libraries are each part of an entire system. Maybe another library has the book you want to borrow.

Customer: When did you start selling books instead of loaning them?

Cashier: Well, we’ve always been a bookstore….

Customer: Oh no, I used to come in here all the time and borrow books.

Cashier: Uh…okay…

Customer: I know you used to be a library.

Cashier: Wellllll…we aren’t anymore. Now we sell books.

Customer: That’s too bad.

Cashier: Yes. It is. Would you like to buy these books?

Customer: Oh, I don’t know. Does the other library still loan books or do you have to buy them there, too?

Cashier: I have to go on break now. My head hurts.

Customer: Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll come back later for a new card.

Cashier: (forgets coffee and just needs Tylenol) Okay. By the way, you have very exciting hair.

Customer: Thank you! You’ve been very helpful.

Cashier exits and weeps.


Cashier: My feet hurt. Wait…only my left foot hurts.

Large man with no neck and small eyes tosses two Sunday papers at cashier.

Man: Hey! You know you’re out of the Pittsburgh paper again!

Cashier: (I fear you.) Oh. I’m sorry. Today’s the Super Bowl, so all the papers are selling out.

Man: (with clenched fist) No! It’s not just today! Every Sunday morning I come in here and the Pittsburgh paper is sold out! Who is in charge of ordering the papers?

Cashier: Oh yes! I’ll get him over here right away (so you can smash him with your enormous meaty mitts.)

Cashier dials the in-store magazine and newspaper guy. His phone is busy.

Cashier: (with much fear) His line is busy. Let me ring up your purchase and then I’ll call him again.

Man: (with red face and some foam in corner of mouth) So! Why don’t you have enough papers! You’d think someone would figure out that you are selling out and that you need more! The customers want more papers! Why don’t you have more of the Pittsburgh paper! You could be making money on this!

Cashier: (with much peeing in pants) Honestly, from what I understand, we don’t make much money on the papers.

Man: (with large gesture that almost takes cashier’s head off) OF COURSE the store makes MONEY on the PAPER! Do you THINK they would have the paper HERE if they didn’t make MONEY on it!

Cashier: (uncomfortable in wet pants and now losing patience, but dialing frantically) Hmmm… the newspaper guy still isn’t answering his phone. I hate him now.

Man: (leaning far over counter) Why would a store sell something they weren’t making money on! That’s just not how businesses are run in America!

Cashier: (feeling warm around the throat) Well, I think that we carry the papers to bring people in the store. Once the people are here, the thought is that they’ll buy more product. But, sometimes, that doesn’t always happen.

Man: (another large gesture toward café) OF COURSE they are buying more PRODUCT! You have a café FULL of people drinking COFFEE and reading PAPERS!

Cashier: (a small spark of pissed-off bravery) Well, you aren’t buying anything else. Just papers. See?

Cashier: (offers girlish smile)


Cashier: I’m sorry. It’s a corporate decision (i.e. name, rank and serial number)


Cashier: It’s a corporate decision. I’m sorry.


Cashier: It’s a decision. I’m corporate sorry.


Man grabs papers and storms out of bookstore.

Cashier exits and weeps.

(Note: In other variations on this scene, the cashier is told that she is the “face” of the bookstore, and so is paid to bear the wrath of the customer while on the front line, to which the cashier responds that for $7.50 an hour, her sole duty is to call the manager who makes tons more money and thus can afford the cleaning bills after having shit thrown at her.)


Information Desk Attendant: Can I hit the lights with a rubber band?

Teen girl with very clear skin, turned-up nose, and sporting local private high school attire approaches desk.

Info Gal: Can I help you?

Teen: I’m looking for a book.

Info: (with fun-loving jocularity) Oh, then you need the gas station across the street.

Teen: (blank stare)

Info: I’m sorry. What are you looking for?

Teen: I have, like, a paper due that I, uh, have to write and so I need some books on what I need to write about.

Info: Okay, do you have any titles?

Teen: No. There’s this one book I saw online. It has a blue cover.

Info: Okay…any words on the cover? Author? Subject?

Teen: It’s about politics.

Info: Hmmmmm. We have a lot of books, ehm, about politics. I’m not sure about the blue cover….

Teen: Well, I need ten books for the bibliography, so I need more books than one.

Info: Yes. It would seem so. What is the topic of your paper?

Teen: I need to compare, like, all the political parties and what they like, stand for.

Info: Huh.

Teen: So, like, do you have any books that do that, that like tell you about the political parties and stuff.

Info: Yeeessssss….uhhhhmmmm…well, let’s take a walk over to Current Affairs and History.

Teen: And, I don’t like to read a lot so nothing too long. Do you have like a bunch of those Cliff Notes things?

Info: Uhhhhh…when is your paper due?

Teen: Next week. It has to be fifty pages. It’s my senior term thing.

Info: I see. I hope I’m not butting in here, but I think you’ve set yourself up for a challenge. Fifty pages is a lot.

Teen: Really?

Info: I mean, it can be done. With a lot of espresso. And plagiarizing.

Teen: I don’t know what that means.

Info: Good. Don’t listen to me. Okay, let’s look at this section here.

Teen: (picking up The Savage Nation) Here’s one on political stuff. Like this one?

Info: Okay…well…yes, I suppose that's one side of it….

Teen: (flipping over book and looking at price) Whoa. This is a lot. Are all the books this expensive? I can’t spend that much on my mom’s credit card. I just bought shoes.

Info: Have you checked out the library?

Teen: (blank stare)

Info: There’s one down the street….

Teen: Can I just, like, copy a few chapters from this book?

Info: You mean…like…take notes?

Teen: No, I mean like, can I just use your copy machine and copy a few chapters? I don’t need to buy, like, the whole book.

Info: (blank stare)

Teen: Don’t you have a copy machine?

Info: No. We...do not.

Teen: Okay, then could I, like, just buy the book and then I’ll go copy the chapters and then I can return it, right?

Info: Is that a question?

Teen: I can just copy it and return it, right?

Info: Let your conscience be your guide (i.e., name, rank, and serial number)

Teen: So, I’ll just, like, grab a few of these books and then just copy what I need and then return them.

Info: Let your guide be your conscience.

Teen: Do you have any books with chapters on how to write term papers?

Info: No. No we don’t.

Teen: Bummer.

Teen randomly grabs books from shelf, twirls with much perk, and leaves.

Cashier exits and weeps.


Imzadi said...

I always thought that I'd like to work in a bookstore someday. I'm not so sure anymore...

Anonymous said...

You must be making it up!

I'm running over to the big bookstore now and checking out some books... to make copies of and steal all the Pittsburg papers. ;)

Om.powered said...

You mean I can't get a card? I always thought I could.

Damn. Now I'll pout for a week.


The Pacifist Patriot said...

Girl, I worked for a bookstore for almost six years. You do bring back memories.

cmccormick13 said...

multiply that girl by about 40, take away her money and private education, and welcome to my life.

My favorite questions:

"Is this going to be graded?"
"Do we need to write this down?"
and my all-time favorite:
"Do I need to bring my stuff to class?" To which my response is, "No dear, osmosis will take care of it."

Anonymous said...

Hi! Just came over from Julie's site - thanks for the reference and the stories - I worked in a snooty fruits and vegetable shop a long time ago, I can relate to he helpless, clueless customers!

Amanda Lynn

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