There's the doctor. We know he is one because he tells us every time he calls or puts something on hold. He looks to be in his late 60's, is about six feet tall, has white hair and a full grey beard. He buys a lot of books, all first edition hardcovers, usually new releases of thrillers or mysteries. He calls or comes in regularly to order books or see what we've got in. A recent phone conversation I had with him went like this...
Me (answering the phone): Hello, thanks for calling, how can I help you?
The Doctor: This is Dr. Johnson. What have you got that's new?
Me (trying to think fast, knowing he likes thrillers and mysteries): Well, there's a new Lee Child book out...
The Doctor: (interrupting) I've already got that one.
Me: Vince Flynn has a new one...
The Doctor: I just finished reading that one, it's right here on my lap. I read it in an hour and a half.
Me: Okaaaay, let me head over to the new release bay and see what's there.
(I read off about a dozen titles. After each title I mention, he tells me he's already gotten and read it.)
The Doctor: I guess you don't have anything I haven't read.
Me: It doesn't look that way. I can go to the computer and see what else might be coming out soon.
The Doctor: No, never mind. I'll be in in a few days and look around.
Me: All right, well thank you for calling. (exhausted)
And then there's Nora Gibson. She is elderly, calls on the phone regularly to have books sent to her home. I know she's elderly because of her very quavery voice which is hard to understand. She's very sweet and is patient with us when we have to ask her to repeat things because we can't understand her.
My first call with her, before I knew who she was...
Me: Hello, thanks for calling, how can I help you?
NG: This is Nora Gibson. I've moved.
NG: Would you like to write down the numbers? I have my member card number too. (ah! she's a regular!)
Me: Sure, let me get a pen. All right, what's your new address?
NG: I just moved. I didn't want to move. But I'm trying to let everyone know. It's been very frustrating. I didn't want to move. So. It's 1-1-(mumble)-6-(mumble) (quavery mumble)-gate Avenue.
Me: 1-1-(guessing) 2?...
NG: No. 1-1-(mumble)-6-(mumble).
Me: 1-1-(guessing again) 3?...
NG: (laughing) 1-1-(enunciating and saying loudly)
NG: No, no, no. 1-1-4-6-(enunciating and saying loudly)
Me: Ah. 1-1-4-6-9 (guessing) Northgate (?) Avenue.
NG: 1-1-4-6-9 (mumble)-gate Avenue.
Me: So that's N-O-R-T-H-gate?
NG: No, it's (slowly and quavery) H-O-L-G-A-T-E Avenue.
Me: Ah (relieved). 1-1-4-6-9 Holgate Avenue.
NG: She laughs. Yes, that's it.
She gives me her new phone number as well and I have to ask her to repeat those numbers several times as well. THEN she says...
NG: I'd like to order some books. I like Alton Brown. I'd like his first two books, I don't have those.
I know that Alton Brown has quite a few books, and I don't know which ones came first. Sometimes it's hard to determine original publication dates because books get reprinted and show up in our system with the new publication dates. I look up Alton Brown, and try to ascertain which ones she wants.
NG: I already have (mumble) and Gear, so I don't need those. I want his first two books.
Me: All right, you have Gear for Your Kitchen and...what was the other one?
NG: (quavery, enunciating) Asphalt. I have those. I want his first two books.
Me: All right, So is it Good Eats: The Early Years? And Good Eats 2: The Middle Years?
Me: Okay, I'll get those ordered for you. (I take her credit card information, which again is a long, slow process, and finish taking the order). All right, they should arrive at your house within the week.
NG: Thank you so much!
A week or so later I find out that she's called because the books haven't arrived. Evidently we had the wrong address for her (!). Whoever talked to her that time got her correct address (hopefully) and corrected the order.
One evening E. came up and looked a little flustered. "There's someone on the phone, I can't really understand what she said, except when I answered the phone she said, 'I'm panicking!'"
Me: Did she say her name?
E: I think so, but I couldn't understand it. Her voice was really shaky.
Me: Was it Nora Gibson?
E: It might have been...
Me: Want me to take the call?
E: That would be great. (relieved)
I got on the phone and talked with her. Evidently she'd lost her credit card and was worried (very worried) about it. I talked with her for a while and she found it while I was on the phone with her.
Note: No one's real name has been used. Except Alton Brown's.
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