On a particular bookstore.

My dream-self has acquired the ability to cleanly and safely detach body parts, like a robot or mannequin. Say I dream about having a splinter in the sole of my foot. I can simply take off my foot, set it on the table, get the splinter out, and snap my foot right back into place. The advantages are obvious: I don’t have to lean too far this way or that, I can approach the splinter from any angle, and there’s no pain because the nerves in my foot are disconnected from the rest of me.

Part of last night’s dream involved a minor bruise on my left arm, along the triceps. Normally, that spot is hard to reach… but with this new-found ability, all I had to do was detach my left arm, flip it over, and examine the bruise.

Then it grabbed my right arm. That woke me up.

My visits to the local big-chain bookstore have become less enjoyable in recent months. If it weren’t for the cute brunette who drives a green Accord and works there every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 until—I mean, if it weren’t for the proximity to home, I’d never go back. Instead I’d go to their rival right round the corner, which is twice as big, has better deals, and has workers who aren’t nearly as obnoxious.

The last several times I’ve gone, the “booksellers” (I guess “workers” is too plebeian a term) have discussed politics quite openly and loudly, as if customers or other “team members” (English: “coworkers”) who might disagree—or who simply want to be able to shop without hearing about politics—weren’t standing right there. Maybe it’s just the timing, becauseIllinois’s’s primary elections were held this past Tuesday, and last weekend marked the third anniversary of the start of the war.

When I discuss politics, or religion, or other potentially controversial or disgusting subjects, I do it privately with people who are interested in what I have to say. Furthermore, I’m quiet enough that people standing three aisles away who aren’t interested in my brilliant, absolutely correct and perfectly articulated thoughts don’t have to hear them. I would appreciate the same courtesy from my friendly neighborhood booksellers.

I know, I don’t have to shop at that particular bookstore—but I’d like to think that these booksellers realize that, too. If they want more of my money and they want to discuss those sensitive subjects while I’m standing right there, can’t they whisper? Or simply shut up until I leave the vicinity?

In fact, I think I’d prefer that they shut up altogether. The booksellers at this place can be pretty snooty. Asking me if I need any help when I first walk in the store is one thing, but askingover and over again in an increasingly condescending tone—as if my shopping for books is somehow a problem for them—really works my nerves. And yes, I know the difference between “trying to be friendly and helpful” and “being snobbish and hoping that the guy in the cheap black jacket and Wal-Mart wardrobe would hurry up and leave.”

Therefore, I’m going to get one of those navy FBI jackets with the gold lettering and start wearing it to that bookstore. I’ll bring a little notepad with me, ostensibly to write down prices or book titles. I’ll stand in empty aisles near the politicking booksellers, or just around the corner from them, avoiding direct eye contact. Every few minutes, I’ll check my watch and jot something down on my notepad. When they ask if I need any help, I’ll smile and say, “Just browsing, thanks,” then move to another part of the bookstore, jotting down notes and taking pictures with my cell phone.

After an hour or so, I’ll buy the cheapest thing at the counter, like an eraser or a piece of candy, and leave. I will then return at exactly the same time the next week, and keep up the routine until someone confronts me about privacy and civil liberties. Meanwhile, I’ll do my actual book-buying from their competitor around the corner.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 23rd, 2006 at 9:26 PM.

2 Responses to “On a particular bookstore.”

  1. aabrock Says:
    March 31st, 2006 at 9:20 AM

Dom, if your bookstore was one of these:
these then I recommend finding another establishment anyway!

  1. Vincent Viscariello Says:
    March 31st, 2006 at 12:17 PM

At least those chains admit that their concern is the safety of their employees and customers, rather than the usual bogus claim about not wanting to offend religious sensibilities.