Thursday, June 09, 2005

Meet James.

James comes in about twice a week, sometimes more. Sometimes a LOT more. He always has this look on his face like he's in pain. Even on the extremely rare occasion when I've seen him crack a smile, it looked like it hurt him to do it. His red hair adds to this impression, as does his perenially red complexion. His face always looks like he's just 1)spent several days floating in the ocean with no protection from the sun's rays, or 2)broken every blood vessel in his face by attempting to stifle a sneeze. I hope it's not an indicator that he's about to keel over from high blood pressure.

He also sweats quite a bit. It doesn't matter if it's the middle of summer or deep in the heart of January, if James walks in then you'll see him drenched in sweat. I assume it's some sort of condition. He often comes in after working at his job in the dining commons of the local college, and he'll usually still have the polo shirt and baseball cap on, including the little nametag with "James" emblazoned on it in proud letters.

Not a bad guy by any means, James is simultaneously one of the least annoying Regulars we have here and also one of the oddest in appearance. Generally in the world of regulars, physical oddity and annoying personality go hand in hand, but James has never cornered me into a 30-minute conversation like good ol' Ed, or asked me to track down some import CD at a domestic price, like Sally does constantly.

He's a collector of first edition sci-fi novels, and a lover of snack chips. Here's to you James...long may you sweat in these hallowed halls.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

*cue movie trailer voiceover*
This summer, one man will experience his worst nightmare...
He will challenge the impossible, and he will need every skill at his disposal in order to survive...
It's the most terrifying story ever told...
Can anyone's blood pressure stand...

The Day of the Regulars

It was one after another today, and the odd thing is that we weren't even that busy! With the advent of warm weather around here at last, much of the saner populace was out enjoying it. Yet lo and behold, as if to underscore the fact that they are diametrically opposite to sane people, an endless parade of our beloved Regulars shuffled in and out all day.

It all started the minute I walked in the door and they handed me the phone. It was Sally (see my Sunday, May 02, 2004 entry for details), asking me to look up more recording stars she just saw performing on PBS who haven't made a new album since 1953. She wanted a Greatest Hits sort of disc by Faron Young, the man originally known as "the Hillbilly Heartthrob" and "the Singing Sheriff" (no, I am not making those nicknames up). I explained to her that our distributor offers at least 15 separate titles in that category ranging from "The Best of Faron Young" to "Faron Young's 12 Greatest Hits" to "17 Classic Yodels, Live at the Grand Ole Opry by Faron Young." She then requested that I click on every single one of those discs and compare/contrast the track listings for her while she waited on the line.

After I put her on hold, throttled the phone and screamed silently and red-faced into the mute mouthpiece (much to my coworker Robin's enjoyment), I pulled myself together and told her that I'd compromise and print out each individual album's tracklist so she can peruse them herself tomorrow when she comes to pick up another special order.

Awhile after that there was a phone call from Ed (see my Thursday, July 22, 2004 entry), who wanted another copy of the "Herb Albert" (read: Herb Alpert) CD he'd just purchased so he can give it as a gift. I had to gently explain ten times to him that the disc was now 14.98 instead of 11.98 because in the intervening 6 months, the distributor raised it from their Christmas Sale price. He proved unable to comprehend the information, saying, "Weww, yeah, but I weawwy need that wecord fow my fwiend, so I weawwy want the 11.98 pwice. that ok?"

Later still, 'twas not one but TWO visits by Justin, the Kid Who Only Buys and Discusses Jewish Music and Books. After much gnashing of teeth and playing music clips for him from our distributor's website, he bought a 7.98 bargain disc of "Polish Polkas," which he will almost certainly return tomorrow, if past experience is any indicator.

Then there was Jim, a fairly new regular whose bangs threaten to poke his eyes out. He has this teenage boy obsession with manga (Japanese comic books) and lousy action movies, so he recently ordered the soundtrack to the fairly awful vampire film "Blade II". It arrived yesterday and he purchased it from me this afternoon. In the evening he came back and announced that it was the wrong disc and he needed to exchange it for the other one. I paused, held my fury in check with iron-willed determination, and said, "But I explained that there was one disc with the rock songs from the film, and another disc with the symphony playing the score. I asked you which disc you wanted and you said the rock songs." He stared into space for a dim-witted second or two. "Uhh...I guess I didn't understand what you said."

Closing time can't come fast enough tonight, folks. As if to underscore just how evil this day has become, another regular named John just paid us a visit and asked to order a particular Best Of disc by Fats Waller. He didn't have the exact title or anything remotely useful, but only knew that it was on RCA Records. Lacking the willpower to fight anymore, I turned and went through the laborious process of clicking all 76 entries for Fats until the correct one appeared on the screen. Sometimes I just give in and accept the inevitable.


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