It’s story time, courtesy of Steve-O-in -NJ, who was inspired by the obnoxious, hopefully fake internet message going around the web purporting to be a dressing-down of “inconsiderate” shoppers who “browse.” He recounts a related episode I apparently missed, with trenchant commentary.
Here is Steve-O-in -NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Facebook Users Are Actually Posting This. It Shows Scrambled Ethics Alarms.”
It reminds me of the list some bitter soon-to-be-former employee of Borders Books and Music wrote on a whiteboard and put up right before the whole chain closed in 2011 due to various factors, mostly the expansion of amazon and missing the boat on the e-reader market. I’ll run through it, adding my own commentary:
Things you never knew about Borders Employees:
- We hate when a book becomes popular simply because it was turned into a movie.
What, so it means you’ll sell more of that book? How does that hurt you?
- It confused us when we were asked where the non-fiction section is.
It shouldn’t. Anyone older than eight knows the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Yes, non-fiction is pretty broad, but that’s easily answered with a question to try to narrow what the person is looking for.
- Nicholas Sparks is not a good writer … if you like him, fine, but facts are facts.
No, that’s your opinion, which counts for exactly nothing here. Just who made you, a skinny, bored, can’t-be-bothered-to-do-more-than-the-bare-minimum, clueless twenty-something, an authority on what constitutes a good writer? Your job is to sell books, not critique them, and certainly not to pass judgment on customer choices. You want to become a book critic, see if the local paper is hiring.
- We greatly dislike the phrase “Quick question.” It’s never true. And everyone seems to have one.
Then get a job flipping burgers. Answering questions is part of the job.
- Your summer reading list was our summer reading NIGHTMARE. Also, it’s called summer reading, not three days before school starts reading.
Are you seriously telling us that not a single student came in to get the books on their summer reading list in a timely manner? No, you only noticed because inevitably some didn’t, and it became noticeable. Between sleep-away camp, dance camp, football camp, music lessons, and all those other programs parents send their kids to now to give them an edge and/or keep them out from underfoot, it’s inevitable some things will slip through the cracks. It’s not for you to pass judgment on parenting. It’s also not the parents’ fault that the schools assign six, eight or even ten thick, depressing, boring books over the summer, thinking it will keep the kids’ minds sharp and keep them out of trouble, when all it is is a burden.
- It’s true that we lean to the left and think Glenn Beck is an idiot.
That is irrelevant. I’m here to buy books, not talk politics with you. If I say I want a right-leaning book, then point me to it – WITHOUT gratuitous commentary.
- We always knew when you were intently reading Better Homes and Gardens, it was really a hidden Playboy.
And just how did you know that? And what were Playboys doing out where just anyone could pick them up?
- Most of the time when you returned books you read them already — and we were onto you.
And we were onto you – that’s why we were doing it. If your management chooses to have a policy that allows for that, then there is nothing wrong with us taking advantage of it.
- Limit One Coupon did not mean one for every member of your family — this angered us. Also, we did know what coupons were out.
Then that should have been spelled out. It’s up to management to close loopholes, not for you to seethe about them.
- It never bothered us when you threatened to shop at Barnes & Noble. We’d rather you do if you’re putting up a stink.
Tell that to your management. I’m sure they’ll love it. By the way, the reason I’m here in the first place is because there’s a chance I can get what I want now. Please don’t bother telling me that you will order a book I ask for but you don’t have and it will get here in “about 7-10 business days.” If it’s not here, I can order it on amazon, it will come right to me, it will get there in probably less time, and it will cost less.
- “I was just here last week and saw this book there” meant nothing to us. The store changed once a week.
And you need to keep track of it. If it’s no longer there, then tell me where it is. If it’s no longer in stock, then tell me that.
- When you walked in and immediately said, “I’m looking for a book,” what you really meant to say is, “I would like you to find me a book.” You never looked. It’s fine, it’s our job — but let’s be correct about what’s really happening here.
“It’s fine. It’s our job.” Full stop.
- If you don’t know the author, title, or genre, but you do know the color of the cover, we don’t either. How it was our fault that we couldn’t find it we’ll never understand.
Admittedly, that’s not a whole lot to go on, unfortunately, poorly informed customers are part of the job.
- We were never a daycare. Letting your children run free and destroy our section destroyed a piece of our souls.
Oh please. I get that a bookstore isn’t a daycare, but cut the drama. If some parents aren’t controlling their kids and it’s causing a problem, then you need to step up, or, if you’re not empowered to step up, ask management to, and they will tell security to step up.
- Oprah was not the “final say” on what is awesome. We really didn’t care what was on her show or what her latest book club book was. Really.
Maybe not, but she was influential on what people would think was awesome, and being informed, so that you know what people are going to be coming in for, is part of your job.
- When you returned your SAT books, we knew you used them. We thought it wasn’t fair — seeing that we are not a library.
We already had that discussion with regard to your generous returns policy. Take it up with management, maybe even corporate. Let me know how you make out, if you aren’t banished to the dust gathering section, and if you still have a job.
There is more to the world than making life easy and stress-free for every individual. Every time someone else does something you don’t like is not a license to snark and bitch and complain and feel justified about it like a six-year-old denied another piece of cake or a teen told to turn off the TV and get busy on homework. OK, you Borders folks were out of work, and it sucks to be out of work through no fault of your own because your employer closed. File for unemployment and start looking for another job, stop grumbling about what’s in the past. OK, you home improvement store folks, it sucks to be working in a place where lots of people come during a time of increased risk. It would suck a lot more to be furloughed or let go, which a whole lot of people are.
Seriously, those of us who are out during this time of increased risk are in your store because we need something immediately. We came in to get it immediately, otherwise we’d have ordered it online and bypassed you altogether. However, some things, like a cracked pipe that’s leaking water or a freezer coil that conked out and has put food at risk, can’t wait 2-3 days for an online order to arrive. We’re just as much at risk as you are when we are out and about. Do you think you’re the only ones constantly washing to keep the virus at bay? Do you think you’re the only ones upset about this? Do you think you’re the only ones with spouses worried about you? Rest assured, you aren’t. EVERYBODY is stressed, and EVERYBODY is constantly washing.
Oh, and about worried spouses— this thing is going to end, and you will be able to go back to your pedestrian, secure life of “honey, I’m home” before a half-hearted kiss, a boring dinner, and falling asleep with no action. Tell that to the fireman’s wife who worries one day of every three that a gas explosion or a roof collapse is going to claim her husband. Tell that to the cop’s wife who holds her breath every time “shots fired” or “domestic violence” comes over the scanner. Tell that to the Coast Guard lieutenant’s wife who knows his wife has to go out, but not return.