Thursday, June 19, 2008

San Francisco: Conversation Overheard

Photos of Jack Kerouak and Alan Ginsberg were looking on, and so was I.

The young man was a teenager, clearly from out of town, and his act of offense was to stroll into San Francisco’s most famous bookstore and ask for “a sports book -- any kind of sports book.”

The two clerks at the front desk paused, and in tones condescending, told the young man he wouldn’t find anything like that here. He persisted. "Just anything, a biography, sports photos, something I can take home to a friend."

The clerks shrugged and looked at each other, smirking. Try downstairs, one of them said. The young man turned from the front door and headed toward fiction. "That’s the upstairs dude, try the steps that go down." They were enjoying this.

To my relief, the young man walked out the door. But the clerks weren’t done with him. They replayed the scene, enjoying the encounter with this young midwesterner who didn’t have a clue. This was not a San Francisco moment.

For the last two weeks I’ve been punishing myself for not saying something, or doing something. "Excuse me," I’ve said. "Are you always so rude to your customers or just having a bad day?" Hey," I’ve injected-- "Try a little kindness." "You creeps,"I’ve blurted. "I’m never coming in here again."

Most of all I’ve wondered–what kept me from saying something?

1 comment:

  1. After having a similiar bookstore experience myself, I'm starting to wonder what it is about bookstore clerks?