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Inspirational Reads

Tales of the Bookstore, Chapter 1

February 3, 2010

I think it's time I start telling you some tales about the bookstore where I worked. I spent a year as an assistant manager at a store called Little Professor Book Company in Fort Wayne, IN.

When I was a senior in college, rolling out of bed at 10 am for that difficult Christian Humanities class, I completely forgot to submit my applications for graduate school. So, Notre Dame would have to wait a year before I got there. However, what to do in the interim?

Upon graduation, I interviewed for a few chemistry jobs around the greater Fort Wayne area, even went up to Ann Arbor (Jesus, is she a whore) for an interview at Parke-Davis (which got bought and closed down six months later) for an analytical job. All of those jobs in the chemistry/science field did not pan out, so after about a month of not having any money and my good looks not really getting me by anymore, I started applying pretty much anywhere with a "Help Wanted" sign in the window. I hit up Lowes, Meijer, and eventually settled on the bookstore.

Little Professor interviewed me the day after I submitted an application, and two days later (I decided to NOT start working on the weekend), I was employed full-time. About a month after I started, I got promoted up to Assistant Manager and made a whopping $7/hr. That's fat cash, homies. Well, it was fat enough to pay for an engagement ring, pay off the last of my school bills AND my credit card, and keep me good and liquored up for ten months.

It was about the third day at work that I met Shane.

Shane was...not a model citizen. By any stretch of the imagination. Good guy, loved working with him, but he hated working there about as much as I did. If you can believe it, I was the Dante to his Randall. I may not have wanted to be there, but I did at least put forth an effort to provide mediocre customer service.

Shane didn't give a fuck.

He'd call his girlfriend/fiancee/wife a fucking whore--while on the phone in the children's section! He'd drop other indelicate phrases while working on the floor. He would go over to the bay which housed the self-help and grief books and talk about how he hoped they'd never find a cure for cancer. He would also drink all the coffee provided by the shop next door, thus making the young women who worked there come over and replace it.

On second thought, that was a good thing. The chicks who worked next door were fucking hot.

I once had to field a complaint about Shane from an angry customer.

Me: Hello, Little Professor Book Company, Covington Plaza, this is Matt, how may I help you?

Customer: I want to speak with a manager.

It was at this point that I rolled my eyes. I always had people calling up bitching because some employee couldn't find a book or they farted or something like that. I had a feeling this was going to be another one.

Me: I'm a manager, how may I help you?

Customer: Yeah, I was just in your store around lunch time [it's after dinner by the time this call came in] and I heard one of your employees swearing.

At this point, I knew exactly who it must have been.

Me: Do you know who it was?

Customer: It was a guy.

Me: Could you be a little more specific? I can't really berate the offender if that's all I have to go on.

Customer: What the hell? I've seen your staff. How many fucking guys work there? How fucking hard could it be to figure out who it was that was swearing and fire his ass?

Me: Well, aren't you one to cast the first stone?

Aaaaaand...then I hung up.

He called right back.

Me: *opening spiel upon answering the phone*

Customer: Hey, asshole, I don't appreciate being hung up on. I just wanted to let you know that I will be taking all of my business to Borders from now on. Because I do not appreciate being hung up on by some fucking loser who works in a bookstore.

Me: Well, good luck with that.

I then put him on hold. And then I never picked the call back up.

I found Shane. Instead of pulling him aside to tell him to cut it the fuck out, I did the professional thing and confronted him out on the book floor in front of the staff and customers.

Me: Hey, some asshat just called up voicing his objections over your use of the word "fuck". Tone it down a bit, would ya?

Shane: *after a pause where he realizes what I just did* Well, alright then, Captain!

So, yeah.

The biggest problem with Shane was that he had a severe case of oral diarrhea. If something went in his ears, it came out his mouth.

Since I was a manager AND the tallest person on the staff, I was charged with changing the light bulbs around the store. In the children's section, we had a display set up that was supposed to look like a tent, with all these vinyl banners and such hung over a couple of lintels. Under the "big top" there was a stage where some sucker had to sit and read books to kids on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

One Sunday afternoon, I was struck with a desire to not do any real work, so I decided to change all of the burnt out light bulbs. As I was maneuvering myself around the stage in children's, I noticed a thick layer of dust on top of all the vinyl banners. On a whim, I dragged my fingers through the dust, drawing my initials in the dust as well as the date.

Later that day, I showed Shane, because I couldn't contain myself over how fucking clever I was. He thought this was hilariously brilliant, got out the ladder, and did the same on the next banner over. Cool, I thought, now we'll see how long it is before the guy whose job it is to keep the displays clean finally does his fucking job.

The next morning, Shane came in and showed our little bit of artwork to the store manager.

She was not amused.

That night, I had to get the ladder back out and I had to wash the dust off all the banners.

Because I'm mature like that, I took the bucket of filthy, dirty water and dumped in the bed of Shane's new pickup.

Revenge is a dish best served muddy, I guess.


Chemgeek said...

"If you can believe it, I was the Dante to his Randall."


Steam Me Up, Kid said...

I'm the Snowball to your Dante.

I don't know what that means. Or maybe I do. *raises eyebrow*

June said...

Shit piss fuck suck gobble nibble chew
Nipple bosom armpit finger fuck screw
*say it quick, in one sentence

Oral diarrhea taught to me at a ripe young age by my older brother only to be remembered for the rest of my life!

Elliott said...

That sounds far more entertaining than any of my college-year jobs.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Chemgeek: Believe it or not, Shane hadn't seen that movie when I started working there (summer of 98).

@ Steamy Kid: You come into my store, mill around for a little bit, and then bring my fantasies about my girlfriend crashing down around my head?

Oh...and there's a story about Snowball coming up in the near(ish) future.

@ June: Armpit?

@ Elliot: Yeah, it beat slinging hash at the greasy spoon where I worked two of the previous three summers, and the mail room carrier driving job at my dad's company, as well.

kate said...

I love the Clerks reference...there aren't nearly enough of those in the world.

I had a job in college that consisted of me serving coffee to/being hit on my really, really, really, really old men. Their favorite thing to do was throw a menu on the floor, ask me to stand on it and then go "I'll have what's on the menu."

Oh...oh, my.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

I worked in a mall bookstore for a minute (while I was a freshman in college) and MY manager's name was also Shane.

This Shane was guy and told me about the time he "farted a guy out."

Scarred. for. life.

snowelf said...

omg...this story was great, but what really got me was the caption on the elephant picture. Nice! :)


Junket said...

Please tell me that someone really called to complain about a fart. I need to hear this story.

Nej said...

I'd love to hear the dialog that customer had with the phone after you put him on hold and never came back. He sooo wanted to call you, rip you a new one, and then walk around all puffed up like he was "the man."

Love it!