Friday, October 7, 2011

Things I've learned about life from working book retail -- Parenting edition

I'd like to think I've grown into something of an expert when it comes to working book retail... By no means does this mean I think I know everything, nor does it mean that I have any interest in going into management because I enjoy being a drone and just working with the books and customers all day.  But I have worked in a book store for about three and a half years at this point.  And there are certain things that I have come to realize about different aspects of life that I don't think I would have realized otherwise.

For this post, I'm going to start with some parenting issues.

Here's a tip, guys...  Usually, a child does actually have at least some clue what they're interested in.  Granted, it may only hold their interest until they get home, but you know what?  At home they should already have other toys, and if the thing they picked up at the book store keeps them quiet at said bookstore and all the ride home...  You've won!  I mean really, what more can you ask for?  Your child may have brought something into the house only to discard it and may never go back to it again, but you've had a semi-blissful shopping experience.

Now, before you start telling me that I'm being silly because you can't afford to buy every last thing the child asks for and besides, if you did, that means the child would grow up spoiled.  That is not at all what I am suggesting here.  I'm just saying that if you intend to buy your child something... let them pick out what it is.  I can not believe the number of times I've seen a parent trying to convince their child to buy something else.  If it's because you really just want them to buy something educational, I can get behind that.

I swear, though... The number of times I see a parent trying to convince their child that no, they really didn't want that book...  No, you want this book right here.  Why?  Because the parent is soooo certain that the child would be more interested in the other book.  Though often it's a matter of being that one dollar cheaper or because if they got the cheaper item they could get another cheaper item and have more things!  Or, the weirdest one of all, I swear I saw a parent trying to convince their child that they wanted something similar to what the child was asking for only it was slightly more expensive because they had a coupon!  Yay!  If they get the more expensive item than they'd save more money!  ... but the child really just wanted the cheaper thing and the parent would not have it...  That confused me greatly.

Now, all of that silliness aside, here's one thing that working at my current bookstore has taught me...

I really, really hate it when parents use the "monsters will get you!" ploy in order to keep their children in line.

That's me, can you tell?  Lookit the name tag.  See?

I was, in fact, assaulted by a child several months back because of this lousy parenting technique.  This little girl kept trying to wander away from where the person watching her (I shudder to think it was actually the girl's mother and hope to goodness that it was just an older sister or something... but it's hard to tell these days).  The woman was all "Oh, you shouldn't wander off.  A monster will get you."  I was shelving in the section-- young adult, by the way, where the woman was camped out trying to find a new paranormal thing to read I think-- and I happened to come into the little girl's view one of the times the older chick was saying this.  At which point, she promptly jumped on my arrival and declared "See!  There's the monster right there!  I'll let her get ya if you don't stay right here with me."

. . .

Okay, for one thing, she just called me a monster.  That just ain't right, in and of itself.  What makes this even more annoying is that she keeps playing it up, pointing me out to the child every single time she does anything the older girl doesn't like or starts trying to wander off.  Next thing I know, I'm crouched down to put away some books on a bottom shelf... and the little girl throws her jacket at me as hard as she could and is standing there glaring murder at me.

Did it hurt?  Not really, no.  The zipper caught me on the top of the head, but it was just a very small girl throwing a jacket at me.  Still, what the heck?  I toss the jacket back to the little girl with a smile, go back to shelving, and she hits me with it again!  At this point, the woman realizes what's going on, grabs the girl and starts really chewing her out.  Umm.... you're the one who told the impressionable child that I was a monster.  Who's fault is this really?  *rolls eyes*  At that point I had to leave the section in order to keep from pointing this out to the woman.


Alright, so that's the negative, now time for some positive.  Here's a good example of parenting (in my humble opinion).

At the store I currently work at, we keep the books 'fronted' which basically means the spines all straight and even with the edge of the shelf.  This makes it easier to shop because you can actually read all of the spines, whereas books pushed back against the back of the shelves can overlap and be very difficult to deal with when they're all different sizes.  The most common issue we have with this is the children who go through a section pushing in every single book on every shelf they can reach.  Whenever I happen to see a child doing this, I generally will smile as nicely as I can and politely ask them to please not do that.  Not harsh or scolding, just asking them politely.  Usually this gets the child to realize that it is something they aren't supposed to be doing, but we still have to go in and fix it after them.

Well, once, I said something to a little boy who was doing it and his mother turned around very quickly to see what was going on.  I had a moment of panic thinking I was about to get chewed out for telling her child what to do, but instead she looked at the books pushed in on the shelves and immediately told her child to pull all those books back out.  I was very surprised that she reacted this way, because we often get people who are of the opinion that we 'get paid to clean it up, after all.'  This woman, however, acknowledged that her child had done something that would make it more difficult for us, and made sure that he didn't leave a mess for someone else to clean up.

That, my friends, is a very responsible attitude to teach your child at a young age.  The idea that your actions have consequences and that if you do something you shouldn't, that you have to fix it.  ....Or something like that.  Admittedly at this point I'm getting a little fuzzy brained.

I think it is about time for me to wrap this up.  Especially since I feel like I've been rambling on for quite too long already. ^_^()  Thus, I conclude the first edition of "Things I've learned about life form working book retail."  Of which, I haven't the foggiest clue how many there will eventually be.  I have at least one more that I may type up in the near future which will probably be called "Cures for bookstore boredom."

For now, I feel like I have taken enough time away from the drawing I had been working on previous to the sudden inspiration to type up this blog post.  I shall work on it just a little longer and then promptly head to bed considering that it is already almost 3am and I am...

 ...a very sleepy Kitty.

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