Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fools and Horses
Not since the days when I worked in bookstores to put myself through college have I encountered such contact with the general public as I now experience as a volunteer at the shelter. I mean when I worked for IBM and Apple, the public was hardly likely to wander through the office asking stupid questions. But now I see them on a fairly regular basis and am constantly amazed by the folks I meet.

Most of them are normal human beings. They're polite and intelligent and ask regular questions about the cats. ("Can you recommend a cat that really likes to play?" or "Do you know if this cat gets along well with dogs?" kind of things.) But then you get the wackos. The ones who ask what do you have to feed cats. When I replied "um...cat food" they came back with "so you don't need to give them live mice or anything?" (Oh god, please don't let them adopt a cat.) Or the lady who asked specifically for a black and white cat and when I pointed out a particularly cute one she told me it wasn't black and white enough. (Oh, sorry I didn't know you had a ratio in mind. Can you give me numbers? Are we talking 50-50? 60-40?)

When confronted with the odd I find myself just sort of invisibly shaking my head in disbelief as to how these people function in the world. How do they hold jobs? And why, oh god why, do they breed? (Because many of the dumbest questions come from people with four or more kids in tow.) (Such as the lady who thought it would be fun to get five cats, so that each of her kids would have one to play with.) (No!!!)

But nothing tops working in a bookstore for stupid questions. For a while I actually kept a notebook with such gems as "do you have the yellow book that was on Oprah last week?" (Why yes, ma'am, we keep all our books filed by color. Please check our yellow section.) Or, one of my favorites, "has Jane Austen written anything new?" (Well, no, not since her death she hasn't.) A few more of my top idiot queries:

- Do you have that book, A Hundred Years of Solid Food? (No, but I've heard good things about A Hundred Years of Solitude?)
- I'd like that book by James and Harriet Yorkshire. (We're fresh out, how about a copy of James Herriott's Yorkshire?)
- I can't seem to find a copy of Shakespeare's "Death of a Salesman" can you order a copy? (Sure.)
- I need to read Jane Eyre for a class. Do you have any books like it, only shorter and not boring?
- Do you have any Sherlock Holmes books? -- Certainly, in the mystery section under Conan Doyle. -- No, Sherlock Holmes. That's the author's name. Do you have any books by Sherlock Holmes? (Oh yes, in our "books by fictional characters section over there on the invisible bookcase.)

And then there were the requests for such famous titles as:
- Lady Chatterley's Butler (a shocking tale of how to serve Port correctly)
- A Tale of Three Cities (the sequel)
- Uncle Fred's Cabin (which I think must be all about fishing)
- Donkey Hokey (this one gave me a moment's blankness before I led her to Cervantes)
- Anna Karimazov (finally Anna Karenena and the Brothers Karamazov together in one great novel!)
- For Whom the Bell Rises (Can I interest you in a copy of the Sun Also Tolls?)
- Sense and Prejudice (sadly, we were out of Pride and Sensibility)

And those are just the ones I remember without the aid of that infamous notebook.


Kittie Howard said...

Love your dry wit...I really did LOL! Sadly, tho, these people think they're the cat's meow and have little meows ... five cats for five kids...ohhhh, you've got the patience of a saint, Decca!

FinnyKnits said...

I kinda want to work at a bookstore now. Those are pretty fucking funny. I especially enjoy "For Whom the Bell Rises".

Do bells rise? I'm sure they do not.

Duke said...

Loved your examples. I can believe every one of them too.

They remind me of misunderstood song lyrics which are some of my favorite things.

"Scuse me while I kiss this guy" by Jimi Hendrix

"Hold me closer Tony Danza, count the headlice on the highway" by Elton John

"There's a bathroom on the right" by Creedence Clearwater

I won't go on. I'm sure you've heard them all before.

Decca said...

Thanks, everybody. Working with the public is always a fascinating experience. And I'm always more than happy to make fun of people I quietly scorn.