There's an elderly Asian gentleman that comes in few times a week to buy a New York Times and a Wall Street Journal. He's very soft-spoken, always gets the same thing. One day a very tall, not Asian man came in with a piece of paper. He asked for the New York Times and a Wall Street Journal. I told him I thought I knew who they were for. He said yes, he was buying them for a friend who was in the hospital. The not Asian man came in for several weeks, buying the newspapers for his friend. I told him to tell him that we missed him and that we hope he's doing better. A few days later the Asian gentleman came in, moving slowly, looking a little pale, but up and around. I told him how good it was to see him and hoped he was doing better. He smiled and seemed pleased to be remembered.
Since then sometimes it's been the Asian gentleman and sometimes the not Asian gentleman who buy the newspapers. This week it was the Asian gentleman. I hope he's getting better.
A middle-aged couple came in and asked for the death and grieving section. As we walked over to the section, they said they needed something about losing a child. I pointed out a few titles dealing specifically with the loss of a child. They said, "But our son wasn't a kid, he was 22." I said that he's still their child, and many of the books talk about losing one's child, and that the age of the child didn't necessarily matter. "He was killed in Iraq.", they said. "He was our only son." "I'm so sorry.", I said. They were crying. I was crying. I pointed out a few more titles, said I was sorry again and walked away. Their picture was on the front page of the paper the next day, sitting at their son's funeral.
A girl about 10 years old and her dad came up to the register. One of the books they were purchasing was a book about Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. The girl said, "That's for my friend. She has a brain tumor. She loves Twilight." I told her I thought it was nice of her to be getting her a book she knows she'll enjoy. "She named her tumor. She named it Fred. This is the second time the tumor has come back. She's in the hospital. She really likes Twilight. This'll be great." I told her I liked that she named her tumor. And that I hope she enjoys the book. "She WILL!"
A woman was looking for a baby book. She was looking for a particular baby book (that we didn't have). As another option, I told her about what another customer had done for Mother's Day. The other customer's sister was having a baby girl, so she bought 5 pink blank journals for herself and her mother and other relatives to write in about this new baby girl. I thought it was a marvelous idea. The customer yesterday thought so too, "IF people would write in it." She said her family members wouldn't write in it. She has four grandchildren and none of them have baby books. This new baby that's coming is the first one for this daughter. "She WILL keep a baby book. She's just one of those who think keeping traditions going is a good thing, so she will do it." She talked about how she kept baby books for all of her kids. Some of her kids ask her about their kids, "when did he start walking?", they'll ask her. "That's why you write it down", she says to them. She's thrilled that this daughter will be keeping a baby book, and she didn't seem to mind that we didn't have the one she wanted.
A young man wearing a leather jacket and carrying a motorcycle helmet was looking for a book for his mother. She likes thrillers, has read Michael Crichton and liked him. We chatted for a while about what she's read, how Michael Crichton kind of has his own niche, with almost biological thrillers. He then asked if I liked Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. "I loved it.", I said. "So did I." I told him that there is a sequel to it (World Without End); he hadn't known about a sequel. I told him I didn't like it, as it was set 100 years after Pillars of the Earth and all the people I liked in the first one died. I just couldn't get into it. He ended up taking Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, which I liked and sounded to him like something his mom would enjoy.
Our store is doing a book drive for children in foster care. A young-ish man with long hair and a beard came up. He was purchasing two books of gay erotica. I told him that we're doing a book drive for kids in foster care, and asked if he'd like to donate a book. "Oh, wow, that's cool. I was a foster child." He bought Holes by Louis Sachar for the book drive. "This was my favorite book when I was a kid."