And Always During Lunch

As I mentioned earlier this week, I don’t like to tell you how to handle your own business. But once again I have overcome that so I can tell you about telephone conversations with Book Fair managers.

No, this isn’t about what I scream at the telephone when it rings as I am checking the first edition points on Jane Fonda’s Work-Out, nor how many pencils I have bitten through because I had them in my mouth while moving a box and trying to keep the stack of Rebecca Wells books from tipping over just as someone knocks on the back door and the phone rings. No, no, I want to talk to you about phone sales pitches.

I don’t need ‘em.

Yet, somehow, I keep talking to people who take fifteen minutes to ask if they can drop off books. There are two types of conversation, which for the sake of convenience I will call Type C and Type D. (A and B have Friday off for the long weekend.)

C: I have some books to drop off.

Moi: All right. You can do that Monday through Saturday, from about 8 to 4, except, of course, on holidays like Labor Day and….

C: They’re mostly history books, with some art books.

Moi: That sounds like our kind of books.

C: I was a history major in college, and then I got my Master’s for a thesis on the influence of sandals on the outcome of the Civil War.

Moi: Oh, there should be some good books in there, then.

C: The Civil War books are all hardcover.

Moi: Oh, good.

C: The books on the history of sandals are about half paperback, but they’re pretty rare.

Moi: I’m sure we’d be glad to see those.

C: The rest are in hardcover, and they’re pretty rare, too.

Moi: I don’t believe I’ve had two books on sandals so far this week.

C: I didn’t underline or highlight in them, so they’re in excellent condition.

I’m so glad the Newberry Library has never bought me a telephone with video capabilities, because at this point I am sprawled in my chair, with my head tipped back, my eyes closed, and my shoulders sagging to the point that I look as if I have been dead for about twenty-two hours. (I usually look as if I’ve been dead only about three.) But as soon as I finish with dear old C, I get a call from my old friend D.

D: I have some books to drop off.

Moi: All right. Except for things like Labor Day weekend, you can drop those off Monday through Saturday, from about 8 to 4. If it’s a lot….

D: Do you take children’s books? They’re mostly children’s books.

Moi: Oh, yes, we certainly do like children’s books.

D: Because if they’re just a bother, I can give them to the Day care Center.

Moi: Oh, we like children’s books. People keep buying them because there are new children all the time.

D: These are really mainly board books. You know? The kind for really small kids? Do you want those?

Moi: Oh, we like every kind of children’s books. We get all kinds of customers.

D: One or two have been chewed on a little. They’re clean—I washed them—but if you think they’re too damaged to bother with, I can throw them away.

Moi: No, no: bring them in. If they’re too damaged for us, we leave them out on the curb and the squirrels take them back to their nests to read to the little squirrel puppies.

D: One of the books is about a fox. If you think that would upset the squirrels, I don’t have to bring that one.

Oh, my friends, how many times do I have to say “Yes”? You don’t have to convince me the books are worth taking, C, if I’ve already said “Bring ‘em in”. You don’t have to keep telling me how rotten the books are, D: I can see for myself when the time comes.

And I have WORK to do! If you use up all my time with a sales (or unsales) pitch, when am I going to have the leisure to look for naughty pictures hidden between the leaves of the encyclopedia yearbooks? Some people have NO consideration. 

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