I was at the registers and it was kind of hopping. A woman came over to the counter to pick up a hold — a set of Star Wars DVDs. I found it on the shelf and began ringing it up, when she interrupted me.
“This says movies IV, V, and VI,” she pointed at the packaging.
“Yep,” I said. “The Star Wars Trilogy.”
“But, when I called, I said that I wanted the original trilogy.”
“This is the original trilogy.”
“But how come it’s numbered four, five, and six?”
“It’s just the way they made them.”*
“I want the first three films.”
“You want the first three films? Or the original trilogy?”
“I want the original trilogy: the first three films, that’s what my boyfriend said.”
“He said he wanted the first three films, or he said he wanted the original trilogy?”
“Is there a difference?”
And at this point (instead of, say, repeatedly pounding my head onto the register counter), I just play the geek card: “I need you to take something on faith. And that something is that, me? I’m a geek. And if your boyfriend said he wanted the original trilogy, this is what he wants,” and I tap the DVD set. “Trust me on this. If he said he wants the original trilogy, this is what he wants, the late 70s and early 80s, Boba Fett, Slave Leia, Han shoots first**, trust me — this is the set.”
She gives me this look. Sort of a “WTF shouldn’t you be wearing a Yoda costume or something?” type. “Okay … but I want a receipt. Just in case.”
And then there’s the Wi-Fi.
Recently, like, beginning of October, we began offering free Wi-Fi. I’m sure the concept is that people will come in, sit down, surf the net, and then buy lots and lots of stuff. This may even be true in some cases, but usually what it means is that five minutes after we’ve closed, there’s some dingleberry so intent on the internet that he gets into a screaming match with employees when he’s told for the fifth time “Hey, pal, we’re closed — pack it up and get the fuck out of here.” And of course, once he’s finally been persuaded to pack his laptop up, he wants to use the restroom.
“Pal, we’ve been closed for ten minutes. We were making announcements that we were closing fifteen minutes before that. Restrooms are locked.”
They don’t actually lock. And most of the time, we say, “WTF. But hurry up or we’re locking you in and calling the police.”
Because — look, most of the people who work the evening shifts at the Bookstore? Like me, we’ve got day jobs. Two of my coworkers are staffers at the National Geographic (one has been there so long, he’s on the magazine’s masthead). Others work or intern at the Smithsonian, or for think tanks, or are full time students — we’ve got a woman who is earning her PhD in 15th Century literature. And those who aren’t? Most have families.
The point is: consider us, please. It might not seem like a big deal to you when you’re still in the store fifteen minutes after close, but my alarm goes off at 5:15 am every day, and every additional minute we have to stay in the store because you’re so stuck in your own world where everything caves to your demands means that I’m losing sleep for tomorrow.
And I keep some long ass days.
So when you hear the “Attention, Bookstore customers — the time is 8:55 and in five short minutes, the store and all areas of the store will be closing” announcement, turn off your laptop, pack it away, and get the fuck out of the store.
Someday, I’ll tell you about the well dressed businessman who came in and began screaming and spitting in a manager’s face when he learned we only offered a wi-fi connection, and did not actually have computers available for consumer use. That guy is the reason why kicking customers in the crotch should be company policy.
*No it isn’t, that’s such a myth. Lucas didn’t tag Star Wars as Episode IV until it had already been released into theaters.
**I’m actually pretty sure that box set contains the special editions of the films, where Han in fact shoots second. Alas, because we have the individual film discs with the original film, where Han shoots, as he should, first. But I didn’t want to try to explain what a Greedo is. “Picture Gordon Gecko with scales, lady. And a blaster.”