A woman with graying shoulder length hair, wearing a blue turtleneck and a darker blue coat came up to the register. She had with her 2 audio books, Bill Clinton's autobiography and Jane Fonda's autobiography.
"I'd like to return these if I can. I don't have a receipt, but as you can see, they've never been opened," she said.
"Without a receipt I have to be able to track the transaction to do any kind of return," I said. "Did you pay with a credit card?"
"I might have, I don't remember. It might have been a few years ago." (our return policy is within 60 days with a receipt or way to track the transaction. I'm thinking this doesn't look good.)
"Well, if you have the credit card, I can do a search and see if we can find the transaction in the system." I try a couple of her credit cards, plus her in-store membership. Nothing works, the transaction is not found, which means she bought them quite a while ago.
"I'm sorry, without a way to track it, I can't do the return."
"Oh," she says. "I just lost my job on Friday. So I'm trying to get back any money I can."
I feel awful. "I'm so sorry. I wish I was able to do something."
"And you know what else?," she said with some feeling. "I just started dating this guy and he's a Vietnam vet. He has some strong feelings about Jane Fonda."
"Ah," I said. "And I'm guessing they aren't favorable feelings."
"Uh, no, not at all. And the thing is, I like Jane Fonda. But I don't even want him to see that I have this audio book of hers. So that's another reason I wanted to return it. I didn't want him to see it. I guess I could try and sell it at a garage sale."
"Or ebay," I said. "You could try selling it online. Just a thought."
"Oh, right," she said. "I didn't even think about selling them online." She smiled. "I might just try that. Just to get them out of the house."
A grey-haired Asian woman with a pink coat and a black, white and pink plaid scarf came in looking worried, pencilled eyebrows furrowed.
"I am wondering if you have any Christian books? Any books, or magazines about Christianity?"
"We do, we have quite a large selection of Christian books. I can get someone to take you over there," I said.
"Well, actually, are there any Christian magazines? In particular, magazines for someone, an adult person, who needs to socialize? Who needs to get out more? Who needs to get a job?"
I'm trying to think...our store doesn't carry that many Christian magazines. I can think of 2 or 3, none of which specifically deal with helping people develop social skills. I tell her this. "You might have better luck with books. Our self-improvement section, our psychology section, or even our Christian Inspiration section would have books on social skills. And in our business section we have books about how to get a job. We can look up and see what might available."
"No, no, I would like to know what magazines you have that would help with that. Not books."
"Okay, well, we might have a few, I'm not sure they are Christian, though."
"That's all right, they don't have to be Christian, can you just show me what you have?"
Another bookseller volunteers to take her over to the magazines. I'm thinking they aren't going to find much. I get busy with other things, and a little later I see the same woman checking out at with the person who took her to the magazines. After she leaves, I ask the bookseller why she just wanted magazines.
"She was trying to buy for someone who doesn't read, so she didn't want to get him a book, but she was trying to help him. I found a few things, not really exactly what she was looking for."
"If he doesn't read, she probably thinks that magazines are more accessible for him, which may be the case. Some people are intimidated by books."
Another bookseller chimed in, "He just needs to get out and join a club or something, a bowling league, a chess club, just to get out and be with people."
"You're probably right. It's good that she wants to help him. I'm not sure a magazine is going to do the trick," I said.
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