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And now, more true stories of working in comics retail:
This started with a phone call. Most of the experiences that make me want to rip my hair out start with a phone call:
"What's the name of the game store that you guys do business with?"
It's [Game Store Name].
"And where are they located?"
Right next door to us.
"And what's their phone number?"
It's (xxx) xxx-xxxx.
"And where are they located?"
I swear, I couldn't make stuff like that up if I tried.
And I get this call far too often:
Hello, how can I help you?
"Is it out yet?"
Is what out yet?
Which book would that be?
"The book I special ordered."
And which book did you special order?
"Well, I've only ordered one..."
Yes, but since you haven't told me who you are or what you ordered, and since I don't seem to be telepathic today, could you maybe give me a broad hint...
Having a shared vocabulary with your customers is also essential:
"I'm looking for a dark book."
Well, what do you mean by dark?
Are you talking about tone or subject matter or some quality of the art?
"I just want something dark."
Okay, give me an example of something that fits your definition of dark.
"I want a violent fantasy/horror comic with a strong female protagonist drawn in a cheesecake style."
Oh, well of course, silly me, that's the obvious definition of the word "dark" isn't it.
I've mentioned before the phenomen of parents who bring their kids into the store but refuse to buy any comics for them, or let them buy comics with their own money. It's some weird form of torture as far as I can tell. I saw a new variation of it recently, when a woman brought her ten year old son into the store:
"Okay, you can have one comic."
"Can I get this Yu-Gi-Oh comic?"
"No, you can have Betty and Veronica."
"I don't want that, I want Yu-Gi-Oh."
"Well, the only comic you're going to get is this one. Do you want it or not?"
"Okay then, I guess you don't want any comics."
It's not a funny story, so much as a WTF? story...
And finally, I'm not often driven to infanticide, but this kid came very close to accomplishing just that:
It's a fairly busy Saturday, the store is full of people, and I'm keeping my eye on the store to see who needs help, who looks lost, and who needs to be watched like I'm a hungry hawk and they're a baby chick venturing out of the nest for the first time. And I see a kid, not quite ten years old, saunter up to the rack where all the "New This Week" graphic novels are on display, reach up to the top shelf where I usually keep the "Mature Readers" books, grab a copy of the Dawn of the Dead trade paper-back, and quickly duck around an inconvenient corner in the store with it.
Oh, there will be none of this, I think to myself. So I casually walk over, find the kid a little too intent on the scenes of carnage in the comic, and politely say: I'm sorry, but this is a mature readers book. I need your parent's permission to let you look at it.
The kid, looking not the least bit apologetic, says he's sorry and continues to wander around the store. His actual expression would best be summed up as "yeah, you caught me doing something I'm not supposed to do, but you can't do anything else about it than take the book away."
So, I go about my business. And a few minutes later I hear a woman's voice, a little too loudly, "What, all the comics are dirty?"
I look up, see that little bastard with a smirk on his face pointing at me and saying "That's what he said."
So, that's Sanity and Rationality: 0, Kids Who Have Their Parents Completely Buffaloed: 2,350,674