Home > various and sundry > Self-Checkout: A Quest for an American Savage

Self-Checkout: A Quest for an American Savage

I’ll admit it–when it comes to bookstore brand loyalty, I don’t really have any. I’ll shop wherever the book I want happens to be sold. If I don’t want it right away and it’s cheaper on Amazon, I’ll go with Amazon. However, I will also admit that I preferred to go to Borders for one simple reason: I could look up the books myself. Now that they have gone out of business, I have to ask one of the employees for assistance…and that bothers me.

Maybe it’s because I grew up as an only child or maybe it’s because I spend most of my time at home, alone with the animals, but I am definitely introverted. That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy people. Sure, I’m a little shy, but I’m not an extreme case. I go to parties and bars and really huge conventions with only mild anxiety and it’s easily cured by spending some time alone.

Maybe I have some sort of bizarre fear of rejection, but on the Top Ten Things Amadei Dislikes Doing list, “interacting with employees” is probably second on the list right behind “calling places to make appointments/reservations.” Maybe I’m just more self-sufficient than other people. Or maybe I need a therapist.

But what that all that boils down to, more succinctly, is that I’m probably the person self-checkouts at the grocery store were made for.

Last Thursday, I was at the mall and thought, “Dan Savage has a new book out and every time I hear about it, I want to read it a little bit more, so I’m going to just buy it.”

I went off to the only bookstore (Barnes and Noble) that exists and, lo, I could not find the book. It wasn’t in the biography section and it wasn’t in the Gay & Lesbian Studies section. I checked every table and end-cap in the vicinity to no avail, but the website said that the store had it, so I realized, to my dismay, that I would have to ask. Ugh. Can’t I go through some sort of really painful process where they draw the thought right out of my mind?

But I did it anyway.

I went up to a cluster of employees and when one asked me if I needed help, I said, “Do you have a copy of American Savage?”

“That sounds familiar,” responded the employee, his graying ponytail flapping in the breeze. Okay, it wasn’t really flapping as there was no breeze, but it sounded better than “his graying ponytail hung lifeless down his back,” though that would be more accurate. He typed a few things on the computer and found what I was asking for because I am the 1% of bookstore patrons who do not ask for help by asking for “the blue book with the guy on the cover that was on TV this morning. You work here, I’m sure you know it.”

Upon looking at the entry that popped up, the guy said derisively, “Oh. That guy. Yeah, it’s over here.”

Of course, it’s that tone of derision, that feeling that I did something wrong by asking for this book, that keeps me from wanting to actually ask for help from employees. I don’t know what his problem with Dan Savage is. Maybe he’s a right-wing Christian who thinks Dan is a horrible person for being homosexual. Maybe most people who ask for Dan’s books are rude to him. Maybe he’s gay and Dan once snubbed him in a gay bar in Chicago. The only one who knows is that employee.

So–more, better, different? More: Not being an asshole; Better: Just show me where the book is; Different: how about his entire attitude? Yeah, he took me to the Social Sciences section (literally two feet from where I had been looking in Gay & Lesbian Studies. TWO MORE FEET AND I WOULD NOT HAVE HAD TO ASK) and put the book in my hands like a good little worker bee, but he couldn’t even hide how much he didn’t want to do it.

Which, really, is all I ask from retail employees. Just hide the fact that you hate me. I hid the fact that I hated my customers when I worked at Waldenbooks. It’s the great cycle of retail life.

light touches

One day, cranky retail employee, the sun will set on my time here and will rise with you as the new king.

Because, honestly, the more books I buy from Amazon, the closer you are to losing your job, so be nice. It costs you nothing and leaves me with less anxiety.

On a lighter note, this is what printed out with my receipt. Really? There’s nothing else in the store you could suggest? Really?


You may also like The Repeating Dictionary of Repetitive Words Book of Synonyms and Thesaurus Wordbook.

The full title of that middle ones is Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America.

…which has nothing to do with anything Dan Savage or Marc Maron has written ever as far as I can figure out from its Amazon page. Must be what they’re pushing this month.

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