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Focus: Working: To All Customers This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Yes, I do work here, but no, I do not recognize theblue book with the black title, nor do I remember where it is located.

This thought always runs through my head when I find myself working atthe Customer Service desk at Barnes & Noble. I haven't been there very long,but I already have an idea of which books we sell regularly and where they arelocated, and the obscure ones, which random people always seem to be looking for,which will not be located in the section common sense or the computer would tellyou. Whoever was working before me had a bit of a problem alphabetizing, and nowall the new workers pay when some harried person asks for assistance.

"Oh, it's one of those law books, there is a 'G' in the author'slast name." Well, that information certainly helps, considering we haven'teven figured out what sex the author is yet. Not only does that take time, butwhen trying to help customers locate a book, they suddenly get antsy. It's toomuch for them to try to search for it because you, the employee, obviously knowexactly where all the 15,000 plus books are on the shelves and tables, and whyshould they bother? They only have five minutes anyway, never mind the time theywill have to wait in line to make their purchase.

Recently I experiencedyet another customer who I don't think was in the right store. She was an olderwoman with a heavy accent I didn't recognize, which made it hard to understandher. I was content with fixing the diaries and moving on to some other project,but cranky because of having to work so many hours in one day. This woman foundme and asked, "Ma'am, you work here?" No, I thought, I only wear aBarnes & Noble name tag when I walk into the store and fix it all up in myfree time.

"Yes, I do," I replied.

"I need adiary, like this." She held up a brown leather writing booklet. "Only,it needs to be bigger. Is this the biggest you have?" Our diary section isdivided into three parts which are always a mess, no matter how many times I fixthem.

"Actually, I think that is our biggest, though there are morein the section marked Specialty Books."

"No, no, I don't want adiary." This struck me as odd; wasn't that the exact term she used whenasking her question?

"Well, what do you want then?" I was stillpleasant, not having dealt with many customers yet. "I want a diarybook." Shall I even comment again? "I need the kind of cover that slipsoff like hardcover books have, so I can wrap up my bills and leave it on my desk,but it needs to be big." I could think of two solutions: a rubber band or anenvelope.

At this point, I referred her to anotherI-Can-Help-You-With-A-Smile co-worker and got back to fixing the mess this womanhad made. I still don't understand the point of paying ten bucks for a diary justto get the little slipcover, but I guess money isn't an issue for some people. Ido, however, wonder if the woman ever found what she was looking for, or if sheeven knew what she wanted.

Although I plan to work here for as long as Ican, I will probably continue to be amazed by how people's minds work. I do holdmyself responsible for not being able to read customers' minds, but I believe wehave a book on ESP. It might be in the Psychology section.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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