Following is a near-verbatim retelling of a conversation I had with a clerk in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore. I went in looking for the Nicole Krauss book that came out last year (which I am presently enjoying). I asked a clerk for help, and she was very polite, very helpful, very pretty, and very possibly too young for me (but I didn’t ask). I’m not sure exactly where this conversation was headed in her mind, but I do know that I bought the book, and I’m considering going back for another one.
[Derek enters bookshop, stage right. He wanders around the Literature/Fiction section for a while. A polite, helpful, pretty, possibly too young for him clerk approaches…]
Clerk: Are you finding everything alright?
Derek: Well, actually I am having trouble finding something I’m looking for. Do you have a second?
Clerk: Sure. What are you looking for?
Derek: The latest book by Nicole Krauss—Krauss with a K—it came out last year. It’s called “Great House.”
Clerk: Let’s take a look here. [Types in a search database.]
Derek: It might be in that horrible place between hardcover and paperback.
Clerk: Yeah, it looks like it might be…we don’t have it in the store.
Derek: That’s a shame. When is it out in paperback?
Clerk: In September.
Derek: Oh, I was really hoping to start reading it sooner than that. She writes beautiful books and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know her new one was out until recently.
Clerk: Yeah, I remember when we had it in the store. She only has a few books, right?
Derek: Yeah, she takes YEARS between books.
Clerk: Those are usually my favorite authors.
Derek: Mine too.
Clerk: Maybe you could get the e-book version?
Derek: [Slightly disappointed, slightly irritated stare.]
Clerk: Not an option, huh?
Derek: I used to be a librarian.
Clerk: I understand. I work in a bookstore.
Derek: Yes. That’s how we met.
Clerk: [Laughs—perhaps a little harder than the joke merited?] Tell you what, let me look at something here… [Types in database.] Yeah…I can get you the hardcover at a discount, since it’s out of print in hardcover now.
Derek: That would be great!
Clerk: Okay…do you have a membership card with us?
Derek: Yes, I do.
Clerk: Good…that will get you free shipping. Is this still your address? [Reads address.]
Derek: Yes, that’s right.
Clerk: Okay Mr. Brink, your book should arrive right to your front door within a week. I’ll give you a printout of the order… Actually, let me just ring this up for you. [Rings up purchase.]
Derek: [Paying for purchase.] Thank you very much, I really appreciate your help.
Clerk: No problem at all. I’ll see you next time.
Derek: I hope so! [Exits, stage right.]