Your friendly neighborhood reminder

Posted on July 5, 2011


It took several minutes before anyone even showed up to the customer service desk.

He was a tall lanky fellow with tight brown curls and a look of confusion and air of deference.  He didn’t even acknowledge me.  He was busy putting a piece of paper into a book and then wrapping that book with a rubber band.

He saw me eying him, and so he said, “hold on” without looking up at me.  He loudly said something to the counter.  At least I thought he said it to the counter because that’s what he was looking at when he said whatever it was that he said.

He then looked up and said it again with a slight turn of the head over his shoulder.

I looked in the direction of the projectile sound byte and saw an elderly woman who replied to him with some other sound.

She stopped stacking books and came to the counter and stood on the other side.  Then, she said something to the computer screen.  Again, I thought she was speaking to the computer screen because she was looking at it.

I was wrong again.

She was speaking to me.  She turned her head and looked at me and said something that I couldn’t understand.

Another woman was now standing by me and she motioned for me to go to the lady, so I assumed I was supposed to walk to the other side and ask my “customer service” question.

I said, “Oh, well then.”

I walked over to the other side, all the while wondering why, if there were two computers that were not being used and one of them was facing the counter where both I and the other woman were standing, would she choose to stand at the other computer and keep her back to us?

“Yes?” she said.

“I was wondering if you could check to see if you had a book in stock,” I said.

“Yes?” she said.

“Yes,” I replied.

“What is it called?”

“When the Killing’s Done.”


“No…not what.  When.  When the Killing’s Done.”

“Ok.”  Type, type, type.  Confused look.  “What is it called?”

“When the Killing’s Done.”

“Hold on!” she said.  “Ok.  Whennnnnnnn.”

“When” big breath “The” smaller breath “Killing’s” normal breath “Done” big sigh.

“There’s no book by that title.”

“How are you spelling it?”

She turned the computer screen so I could see.

“You need an apostrophe,” I said.


“You need . . . you know, just look it up by author name.”

“Who is the author?”

“Boyle,” I said.  “Beee.”

Watched her type “V”.

“No… B as in Boy.  Okay.  Good.  O.  Y.  L.”

Watched her type “A”.

“No, not A.  EL.  EL. Yes.  Okay.  No.  That’s not it.  There’s another letter.”

Watched her hit browser back button over and over to stop it from searching for “Boyl”.

“Eeee,” I said.  “B – O – Y – L – E.”

“There’s no author by that name with that book.”

“Scroll down the screen,” I suggested as I noticed an entire page filled with search results.

She moved the mouse in elongated circles wondering where to hit.

“You know what?  Try adding his first name?  T.C.”





She finally found the book title.

“No, we don’t have it.  See?” She pointed to the screen emphatically as if to prove that my question was pointless in the first place.  I shouldn’t have stopped her from doing her job of stacking teenage summer reading books.  “Do you want me to order it for you?”

I pause for a second wondering . . . and then say “No, thank you.”  If she couldn’t find the book, spell, or understand the English language in any discernible fashion, how would I trust her to actually have the book sent to the store?


We went to another store to return something we had bought several weeks prior.

We stood in line and waited until it was our turn.

The Girl handed it to the lady and we told her we were going to return it.

She scanned it and looked around and paced back and forth.

“Swipe your card,” she said.

Kokkiree swiped her card.

The lady paced back and forth and punched a couple more buttons.

She ripped off the receipt and put it smack down in front of Kokkiree.

“Sign this,” she said.

Kokkiree stared for a second and then signed.

Then, she thrust a receipt back to us and said, “Go home now.”

Kokkiree was stunned.  I was stunned.

Kokkiree had some choice words as left and we both just started laughing.

“Can we just start walking to California today?  Seriously, I can’t wait to get out of this place.”


Goodbye sweet, neighborhood.  Goodbye.

Hello, California.

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