You know, I'm just gonna stop apologizing for the lateness of these updates cuz then I'd never stop. Anyway, I was under the impression that I hadn't updated since June, but evidently it's been much longer. Oops.

I'm still employed, but that's liable to change without notice. For the first time since Grimace threatened to sue me, I have been entertaining the notion of quitting. I'm so tired of all the bullshit and drama. Seriously, it's like I work at The Hills or something. Sharon's gone, so now we don't have to worry about people who dish it out but can't take it, but we've got a lot of new people that either don't know what the fuck they're doing or just don't care. Molestache, for example, is shelving and doing zone maintenance. This is a problem for several reasons, not least of which is that he is fucking creepy. He stands around and looks lost for most of his shift, and when he is actually shelving, he's cramming them in with KY Jelly and a shoehorn. Everything's all squished and warped. Hey, genius, if it doesn't fit, don't shelve it.

He's not creepy just because of the molestache, either. I got a complaint once when he did storytime. The woman said that while the books he chose were good, they were inappropriate for the age group. One was about the death of a grandparent and he actually started crying at the end and scared the bejesus out of some of the kids. Then he told this woman that he wasn't in for the last storytime because he had a court date, and had to go downtown or whatever. Um, random customers do not need to know about your personal life, chief. I told Stephanie, the woman who's been running this ship, and she said that it was the third complaint she had gotten about him that day. Dude, we've only been open for two hours and you have three complaints? That's gotta be some kind of record.

Speaking of Stephanie, I don't like her. Marilyn, our normal store manager got really sick in April and went on long term disability. Grimace brought Steph in from another store because she has the most experience, but even though it's not official, Steph pretty much runs the place. I told a few other people about the incident with Molestache, and it got back to her (stupid talkative coworkers) so she yelled at me. Hey, I figure people have a right to know when they're working with a nutball.

She's also nitpicky, condescending, and generally annoying. In our morning meetings for the past couple of days, she's been shooting down every little perk that we've been allowed/gotten away with for the past seven years. Our membership sign up goal per day is 2. We've consistently gotten above 2 (in one case over 3) every day for the past three weeks. Sometimes we'll sell 14, sometimes 25, but it's the percentages that count. Her inspiring thank you? "That's great, but the numbers need to be more consistent and level. The sporadic numbers worry me." News flash, douche, we get sporadic numbers of people in each day.

Personally, I don't see what's wrong with givin' a broth a hookup, if you know what I mean. B&N is a multibillion dollar company. It can afford to eat a little now and then, just as long as you're smart and don't abuse the privilege. Steph is threatening termination if you're caught hooking someone up that doesn't qualify for said hookup.

The real kicker on this one is no water/drinks on the floor. At all. What is this, Stalinist Russia? You can't deny me rehydration. It's hot as fuck outside and inside, we're working our asses off, and you say no liquids because we can all get away and go to the bubbler. I might as well set up camp over there then, because working drains me of all bodily fluids. I drink at least a 2 liter bottle of ice water, two cans of soda, a large bottle of juice, and I never have to pee in an 8 hour shift because I sweat it all out. Turn the air on in this motherfucker and then we can talk. Steph wants us to tell on people that have water on the floor. Yeah right. Keep dreamin', chief.

If we allow customers to have drinks, why can't we have some too? And those assholes spill all over things.

And good for you for volunteering to come work at the cursed/forgotten/red headed step child/bastard store. That takes balls. Unfortunately, we're all pretty hardcore over here, and with the exception of Craig, we're all used to the never-ending rain of bullshit that falls on our store and we know what to do about it. So don't roll in here like you are the queen. Because you ain't. If someone pages "available bookseller to info" that usually means that no one's at info because they're already helping someone. So don't come up to me and say "you're going, right?" because I'm on the phone. Don't tell me how to run my bargain department. No one knows it better than me. It's like my own deranged store. Don't tell me to fill something. I'm only one person, I can't replicate myself by mitosis and do all that needs to be done. I'll get to it when I can, so STFU.

You're a manager. Your employees come first. That's your job. If I call and ask what you want me to do about breaks since Danielle hasn't gotten one in almost 4 hours, don't tell me "well I haven't gotten a break either, so I'm not too broken up about it." that forces me to tell Danielle (who was recently in a car accident and not quite 100) that she's going to have to wait until 7 for a break when she got here at 2:30. How is that fair? Sorry, she's getting a break whether you approve or not. The phones can keep ringing for all I care, since we all know you're not going to pick them up.

The only thing I can say for her, however, is that she did get me out of bargain. I told them I couldn't handle another Christmas in there, so they moved me to fiction. Thank god, but now I have to deal with Craig on a more regular basis. Evil man. We got a visit by Grimace and her boss recently and apparently I'm not allowed to have double face outs in the new release bays, so I was yelled at for that. Who the fuck cares? Craig told me that that area is the focal point of my department and that there are other things that can go in there without doubling up.

"I know there's other stuff that can go in there. It's a matter of time."

"That's not an excuse. You gotta…"

I tuned him out after that. Kiss my ass, not an excuse. I'm at school Mondays and Wednesdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays are new release and best seller days, so I have to do the displays and whatnot for that. Friday through Sunday are "priority days" so we have to practice "ACE", active customer engagement, which means nothing but info and helping people. They don't even want us shelving on those days. ACE deez, all right?

And he was giving me shit about product placement too. "Did you do new releases?"

No the fucking cleaning crew did it. What do you think genius? "Yeah, why?"

"Why was Rosie O'Donnell's book tucked away in the corner? People are asking for it. You gotta pay more attention to product placement."

"That just happened to be where she fit. And she's a fucking lunatic."

"You gotta do better than that."

So he moves them from the octagon display to its own table. We had 36 that Tuesday and when I came in on Thursday, how many did we have left?

Thirty-fucking-six. "So, your Rosie display didn't move for shit, did it?"

"Yeah, I guess it wasn't as big as I thought it was going to be."

"…anything you'd like to say to me?" Like a fucking apology, perhaps?

This douche walks away. Then he starts redoing the classics fixture, something that should have been done in '06 but wasn't. Oops, but not my fault.

"Yeah, this was supposed to be done in '06. Any reason for that?"

Why are you lookin' at me? It wasn't my department at that time. And stop fucking with my displays.

Same basic thing happened when Bill Clinton's book came out. Asked me the same thing: "did you do new releases? Cuz this was supposed to be on a table, but you've got it under this display. That a republican thing or something?"

First off, don't call me a republican. Secondly, it was a rush job. Those lazy receivers hadn't unpacked any new releases so I had to unbox them myself. It was like bargain all over again. I had like 300 copies and put them wherever they would fit.

You don't like how I set up displays, I'm more than happy to let you do it yourself. Because there are other more important things I can be doing with my time. Like avoiding you, for example. He says "you gotta…" one more time I'm gonna hit him in

the teeth.

Oh he had been riling me up for a few months before this. Right before Marilyn left, we had an inventory. Long story short, it was FUCKED UP. We had to have another one (after convincing the head of LP that the employees weren't loading their trunks with merchandise. but that's another story.) Craig decided that instead of unboxing the bargain stuff and leaving it in the receiving room for easy inventory access, he wanted it shelved. Now, the reason it hadn't been shelved in the first place is because there was no fuckin' room.

Craig had two guys cram all of it into the department. Haphazardly. Willy-nilly. A veritable shit storm.

Needless to say, that riled me up. Strike one.

A few weeks later, I hear, second hand, that Craig doesn't understand why I'm not getting the stuff out in a timely fashion. Two reasons: 1) no room, as usual; and 2) I'M THE ONLY ONE WHO SHELVES IT. I don't get help. The AM shelvers have the regular stuff to do (and we only have 2 of those anyway.) I have to unbox it, cart it, haul it, shelve it, and maintain it. ALONE.

First of all, if you've got a problem, tell me. I don't need to hear that shit through the grapevine. It makes my respect for you drop like bowling ball out of a college dorm room. Secondly, STFU. You obviously have no idea what bargain is all about. Strike two.

Last night was the last straw. The head of bargain merchandising in the company saw something that I had written on "Steve's blog", a forum we booksellers can visit to write to the CEO. I said that I had so much stuff I didn't know what to do with it. Head of bargain (HOB) said that I could send out the excess to a different store. I finally got around to it last night.

Craig caught me and said, again, that he doesn't see how I'm that strapped for space and that there's a lot of room. He also doesn't think I should have written to the blog either. I told him that all the father's day stuff is coming down, so that will fill in history, transportation, sports, and reference. There are 100 boxes in the back. There are already 2 carts of stuff to go out. My backstock is full because I have no time to put it out. And finally, I was just venting. I didn't expect any reaction, let alone all the brouhaha that HOB is making me do.

If Craig thinks that Craig can do it, Craig's welcome to do it Craig's self. And then get the fuck off my case before I snap on him.

At least I had the pleasure of these two douches, though. Husband and wife tag team of stupidity. The husband: round one.

I was actually getting work don in my department when he strolls up. I noticed he was missing an arm. Does nothing for the story, but I thought I'd share. "Where the bibles at?"

One of those, eh? "They're two rows past the customer service desk on your right."

"I went down there and all I saw was a bunch of Satanism."

Uh huh. "Okay, let me show you."

"Yeah there was all killin' and choppin' people up and burying their ashes. I don't want that Satan stuff."

"Okay, the bibles are right here."

Two minutes later. Round two: the wife.

"I want this bible in giant print."

"Okay...let me see here..."

"I want this exact bible in large print. This print is too small. But I want the same bible. But in giant print."

STFU. "Okay, I found it. I'll have to order it for you though. Is there anything else you were looking for today?"

"Yeah the Cambridge edition of the King James bible."

"Okay, I see something by Cambridge university press; is that okay?

"I want it in large print."

I suppose I should've guessed that. "All right, these four are the only things coming up, and one of them is out of print."

"What's this '10 point'?"

"That'd be about the size of the print on the computer."

"That's too small. What about 18 point? How big is that?"

"It's about twice as big as the stuff on the computer. But that one is out of print, so I wouldn't be able to get it for you."

"Well, how big is this '10 point'?"

Are you seriously asking me that again? "The size of the print on the computer."

"So...like this? (And she grabbed a flyer that was sitting on the desk.)"

We are looking at the same computer, correct? "Yeah."

"That's too small. How big is the 18 point?"

"Almost twice that size."

"So...like this? (Referencing the flyer again.)"

Progress! "Right."

"Well, order that one."

Spoke too soon. "I can't. It's out print."

"Out of print?"

Echo echo echo! "They don't make it. I can't get it. I can get the 10 point though."

"How big is that?"

"On the computer."

"That might be too small. What about this 18 point?"

"I can't get that one."

"Can you order it?"

"No. it's not available."

"Hmmm...How big is the 10 point? Like this, right? And what about the 18?"

"The only one I can get is the ten point. Do you want me to order it?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"Okay. Anything else?"

"No. thanks."

Oh, she's not done yet. Round three: wife, TKO

"I want this exact bible but in giant print."

Fuck. why is it always me? "Okay. (Christ, here we go again.) I can get it in 10.4 point in hardcover or leather."

I had the screen turned towards her, hopefully to cut out all the confusion. "What's this parallel bible? Does it have the notes in columns instead of along the bottom?"

"No. That's a king James and international version side by side."

"Oh. I don't need that. Does this one have it? (Pointing at the screen)"

"Columns instead of footnotes? I wouldn't know without looking at the bible."

"Does the parallel version have columns?"

"No. the king James would be on this page and the international version would be on this page."

"But are the notes in columns?"

"I imagine they would be footnotes like this one since they're the same company."

"Well, what about this one? (Pointing again.)"

"That's the parallel version."

"What does that mean?"

"The king James would be on this page and the international version would be on this page."

"I don't need that. Order this one."

"That's hardcover."

"Do you have it in leather?"

"Yeah I can get it in leather."

"Does it come in different colors?"

"Black and burgundy."

"Burgundy?"

"Like this one."

"Okay."

"Anything else?"

"That's it. Thanks."

I went and overdosed on heavy narcotics after that. Matt came up and asked what was up later, and I told him about it. "The husband had one arm. Swims in a circle."

My biggest pet peeve with my coworkers is some of their tendencies to just not show up for a shift, or no call/no show. Tim was supposed to be in at 3:30. He usually works at 4:30, so when he didn't show up we thought he might be confused. But then it was 5pm and no Tim. Ashley had to run info. Then Mike, who is also consistently late, hadn't shown up for his shift at 6pm in music. I was stuck back there the whole night. I even called him and left an angry message on his phone saying "it's now 6:20 on 8/30 and your ass was supposed to be here at 6. Get in here now and I wont be forced to come to you house and beat you." needless to say, neither of them showed up.

And then I had the cafe manager bothering me for breaks. "Are you busy?" Motherfucker, I'm in music all night. I can't cover anyone's break. I didn't even get my own.

Dickholedouches.

My faith in humanity continues to drop to all-time lows with the help of these three winners. First off, this lady comes to the customer service center, looks at my coworker who was standing inside it, and asked him if he works there.

I shall pause and let that sink in for a moment...

Then some guy called and asked if he could order/get one of those foam hands that say "(team name) is #1!"

And Heather had some lady come up to her on three different occasions within about a half hour and ask if she worked there. Three times. No, my employment status has changed since the last time you asked.

Can someone explain that to me please? The proper icebreaker in that situation would be "Excuse me" or "Can you help me" not "do you work here" especially when it's as obvious as someone performing oral sex on you.

Speaking of which, I had yet another old man try to molest me. Matt's been calling him the "bubby grabber." Sounds vaguely Jewish.

Older guy came up to me. "Oh, that's a nice shirt. Where did you get it? Is it silk? Can I...touch it?" he was already reaching for it, and if I hadn't backed up a pace, he would've had his hand full of...yeah. And then a mouthful of broken teeth.

We've got pins on our nametags advertising Harry Potter 7. My pin happens to rest...between two peaks, let's say. He reached for that. "Is that a 7?"

Ok, now you're asking for a kick in the nuts. And then my coworker, who is the former marine and more than a little unstable comes to stand behind the guy. He was in a car accident, and his arm's in a sling, so the guy says, "Wow, and don't tangle with girls named Kelly. You didn't rat her out, huh?"

"Yeah, cuz he knows I'd break his other arm." not amused.

And then the guy corners two other customers after we made the closing announcement. Couldn't get him to leave, he just kept talking and wouldn't take a damn hint.

He came in the next day, too, but I ran away and hid. I don't need that drama.

He came in again not too long after that and caught me covering in the music department. I happened to be on the phone with another customer but he starts complaining about a CD he bought being scratched. I told his ass to wait, at which point he starts a conversation on his cell phone. He's got the volume cranked up, so I basically have three people talking at me at once. After I finish with the guy on the phone (after more than a few "pardons?" and "one more time"s) I see what's up with bubby-grabber, as we've all taken to calling him.

"I just bought this CD. It's scratched."

I look. There's a rub mark on the very outside edge of the disk. "I should work fine, sir. The music doesn't even go all the way to edge. It stops about halfway."

"But what if it doesn't? Can't you put it in and check?"

"I don't have that capability. I can try and use some skip fixer on it and see if it'll clear up, though."

"Yeah, do that."

So I start wiping at it, and apparently I didn't put it in the case right, because it pops out. And lands on the corner of the counter. So now it's really scratched. Shit.

"My bad. I can order a new one for you."

"You see that scratch? Now what?"

"Sorry. Like I said, I can order a new one for you."

"Well, why don't you order a new one for me--"

"Yeah, that's what I said--"

"I wasn't finished. Order a new one for me and I can come pick it up."

Oh hell no. I ordered another one and got him out.

A few days later, he's in again (I'm assuming to pick up the CD) and his hearing aid is turned up so loud its giving feedback. Not the buzzing/ringing sound, I mean actual feedback. And then he starts digging in his ear with his keys. I was helping a customer at info and both of us looked at him, mouths open.

The icing on the whole cake happened Friday when Tim, the unstable former marine, caught him walking out of the music department with a CD tucked under his shirt.

Needless to say, he's been banninated.

I have terrible luck in the music department. A lady came up to me last night while I was covering the music department. She asked me where "Il Divo" was, and I directed her to said shit. She said she wanted a dual disc of one of their albums, but the album she was holding was not available in dual disc format. There was however another one that was available in said format. She bought it.

Five minutes later, Heather gets called to the front because a customer wants to talk to her. The customer just happened to be the lady I helped in music. The lady said, and I quote because I was within hearing range, "the fat girl in music was not very friendly. She was rude."

Oh hell no. we didn't even interact long enough for her to jump to this conclusion. And WTF are you doing calling me "the fat girl?" WTF. You don't hear me going around calling you the stupid whore, do you?

Douche nozzle.

Winner of the parent of the year award is this guy. It was pretty busy Saturday, but since we're so far over on payroll, they were sending people home left and right. I got swindled into cashiering, and everything was going steadily until this douche rolls up. First of all, he skips everyone in line, dragging his two sons with him. "Do you guys have the Thomas the train pieces?"

"No, we don't carry them...actually; those were the ones that were recalled if I remember right."

"Yeah." and then he walked out.

The customer I was ringing at the time looked at me and I looked at her, both of us with WTF written on our faces.

You would knowingly buy something for your children that have been recalled for lead paint fears? Hmm.

He's followed pretty closely by this bunch, though. Okay, this is sort of convoluted. Try to stay with me.

M: man
W: man's wife
MBM: man's baby mama
PK: poor kid

W and MBM start arguing outside over who has to take the PK for the night. M pretty much watches this go down without doing anything. PK is literally between W and MBM watching them argue over him. It was like a cartoon of someone watching a tennis match. Cops are eventually called. Unfortunately, M works for city of GF police department, and MBM works for city GD police department, so now they're arguing over whose police dept. they're going with. We are currently in city of GF, so city of GD can take a walk. Both W and MBM are requesting any employee witnesses to back up their stories and any video surveillance footage. Our district manager is trying to keep everyone out of someone else's legal issues. Apparently W and Mom's stories are exactly the same as each other's, so one of them has to be lying.

The cops talk to Craig, who says there's really nothing we can do since no one saw or heard whatever went on and one of the women says something about how she's the victim. at that point Craig tells her he feels sorry for the boy they were arguing over, and the woman kind of laughed and said "oh yeah, I guess so." (I don't know if it was W or MBM.)

None of the three adults involved need to be responsible for a toddler. They could barely see beyond their own needs, let alone someone else's.

This just adds more fuel to the fire that is my hatred of humanity.

This has gotten out of hand, so I'll end with the great honey incident of '07.

Kim and I come in at 8 this morning to a wonderful sight. Sometime during the night, some shelves in the cafe had apparently collapsed and unloaded all their goodies upon the floor. Boxes of coffee packets, boxes of strawberry sauce, packets of frap mix, packets of vanilla beans, miscellaneous pots and pans...and quarts of honey. One of the shelves had fallen on a honey jug and splattered it all over the floor, wall, door, boxes, fridge, dishwasher, stepladder, etc etc ad nauseam.

Hour 1: 8am-9am: pickup.

I gradually got all the stuff off the floor. I had to wipe down everything, haul the busted shelves out of the way, get the stepladder into the sink and hose it down, and pick up the screws and hardware that came off with the shelves.

Hour 2: 9am-10am: mopping, mopping, and more mopping. And a little more. Oh, missed a spot. What the hell is dripping...(it was the door)? Unstick shoes from floor. Unstick pants from shoes. How did it get there? WTF!

Mopped the floor FIVE times to get it not sticky. Got the offending honey jug into a garbage bag. Found said honey jug's cap about ten feet from the jug. Rinse off the honey covered product several times. Piled the shit up out of the way as best I could.

Rest of the week: hope we don't get ants. Or bees. Or ants that ride bees.

Holy shit that's what I get for not updating. If anyone wants more timely stories, check out my posts at customerssuck. My name there is B&NGoddess.

This chapter written to Muse: Black Holes and Revelations.