Sandy, her wife, and a friend were looking through travel books when I arrived at 2 today. She told me that this was her last day there for several weeks as they are going off on a vacation to Arizona. She told me about their recent 8 week trip to Africa. I was jealous.
She left and I settled in for the afternoon. There was a woman, sitting ramrod straight at the table, reading. She was there for quite awhile, then got up and looked at the travel books, then the poetry and writing sections, and then left.
Bruce, the guy in white who makes his own hats out of newspapers or coffee cups (though he wasn't wearing one today) came in. His white sweater had an unraveled sleeve, with threads hanging down from nearly the level of his elbow. There was a big square hole in the sweater, about 4" square on one side, and the whole other side was unraveled. He didn't speak today and didn't stay long, and as he walked out I noticed that the crotch of his white pants hung at the level of his knees, but I couldn't see the level of the waist.
Another customer or two walked in, looked around and walked out. The weather was warm enough that the door to the store was open all afternoon, and the air was filled with the smell of garlic, perhaps from the pizza parlor across the street.
I had been reading a book called "My Love Affair with England" the last couple of times I was there and I found it on the shelves again and picked it up, but somehow I wasn't in the mood for England, so I chose a novel called "Midwives" by Chris Bohjalian to read, but I was very yawny for some reason and every time I yawned, my eyes watered, so I was having a difficult time focusing on the words on the book.
A woman with a braid crown of hair on top of her head came in. She picked up a copy of "Red and Black" by Stendhal, asking if that was the complete book, because she thought it came in several volumes. Not being familiar with the book, I checked it on Amazon but by the time I found out that it was only 340 pages long, she had already left.
It was 2:45 and there hadn't been a single sale. I also discovered my camera batteries were dead.
A stooped man who was browsing the bargain books outside came in. When he was outside, I wasn't sure if it was a man or woman and he looked very much like my old boss, Ann Holke. He was wearing a very warm looking sweatshirt and worn jeans, had a coffee cup in the crook of his arm and a can in his hand which had a sign that read "supplemental facts" on it. It looked like a can he might have been using for solicitations. Like all the other customers for the previous hour, he looked at a couple of sections (for him the gardening books) and then left without buying anything.
I had been reading "Midwives" but decided to check the bargain books to see if there were any mysteries by some of my favorite authors. I found two by Robin Cook which I had not read, so bought them both and started reading one.
A tall woman came in looking for "older travel books." I thought she left without buying anything either, but she did buy a travel book, a book of poetry and a coffee table type book. She was my very first sale of the day, at 3 p.m.
Several people browsed the bargain books outside without ever coming in. People passed by, in singles (Bruce walked by again), or in groups, laughing and talking ("chortling and lobbing in wild abdomen" -- stuck that in for Walt). There were groups of loud teens and family groups, and one group of about 8 people with a child bringing up the rear on his bicycle. But none of them came in.
Finally a couple came in. He had been there before. He was dressed in a bright blue plaid shirt and a fedora and he laughed that he was there with his wife, but said "my wife won't let me any more books" (I think he had a large purchase last week). When he came up with three books, 2 contemporary fiction and 1 art book, totaling $17.28, I laughed and asked if they were for him or for his wife. He assured me they were for his wife.
In my notes made at 3:25, I wrote "Wow--THREE in store." It was the busiest the store had been since I arrived.
The small woman who had come in all bundled up last week came in again, this time without her hood. I somehow missed when she left because suddenly things started to get busier.
A husband, wife and small baby in a Gerry pack, wearing a pink beanie came in. They bought a Maurice Sendak book, not "Where the Wild Things Are."
A large British woman in purple marched directly into the children's room. She was looking for "Boxcar Children" books and was pleased to find four. She talked about her grandson's teacher's strict reading program and how he was not permitted to read books either below or above the reading level at which he tested. Sounded strange.
It was 4 p.m. and I had made 4 sales.
A young woman wanted "Waiting for Godot," but didn't find it and left. I have a symbol I use in my notebook when someone leaves without buying. Kind of a "no" symbol, with a circle and a line drawn through it. My notebook for today is full of such symbols!
Someone was looking for historical fiction and I directed them to where I thought they would find something, and meanwhile I was looking in a different section, where I found a biography of Charles Schulz, written before he died. I decided to read it instead of the Robin Cook book I had been reading. (Ultimately I boughtfour books today!)
A young woman found a copy of "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," a rather thick book, and expressed surprise that it was only $4. She bought it because it was too much of a bargain to pass up. She had hoped to find an "older Jane Austen book" for her roommate and was disappointed that all of our Austen books seemed to be more modern publications.
"My friend" finally came in a little after 4. This time he bought a Dave Barry book, a book on Mayan Art, and a book on piano tuning that he found on the bargain table. His total came to $10.18 and he gave me $20.18 and I joked about probably NOT making a mistake in his change this week. I didn't.
A young woman came in with her boyfriend. He's Mexican and is studying English as a Second Language at the adult school. They were looking for simple books for him to read in English. He likes mysteries and I couldn't think of one with a simple vocabulary, but suggested one of the Women's #1 Detective Agency books for him. It was not to his liking. He said he had been reading a book called "The Cabin," which I was able to find on my cell phone for him, but we didn't have it. I sent them off to The Avid Reader down the block. I also suggested they contact Susan, who was an ESL teacher and might have some good suggestions for him. When she came in later, her first suggestion to me was one of the Women's #1 Detective Agency books, which made me feel good that I had thought of that for him, even if he didn't want it.
A guy with very long unkempt hair and mid-calf jeans, a cup of coffee in his hands, came in with two gardening books saying that he wanted to "donate two books to the book cart."
A distinguished gentleman bought two Garrison Keillor books he found on the bargain book table and said it was "too good a bargain to pass up."
A guy bought a book called "Shaman" and I was going to mention the documentary I saw recently called "Horse Boy," about a family taking their autistic son to visit various shamans in Mongolia, but then I saw that the book was a science fiction book by Kim Stanley Robinson, so I didn't figure he was actually interested in real life stories of shamans.
Susan came in at 5:45 and Walt shortly after. We had to head home right away because we were going to see "Grapes of Wrath" at the university and I had to get dinner cooked quickly before it was time to leave for the show.