Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I wish my customers
dressed this snazzily.
I've always envied indie stores their "regulars." You know, those lovable kooks that drop by every day at the same time and give the shelvers crazy stories to take home - usually stories that start with "You'll never believe what happened at work today."

When I started working at my store, I lamented our lack of regulars. Box stores just aren't cool enough to have groupies. I'm sure some of our customers do come regularly, just not regularly enough to be known on sight.

Or so I thought.

Turns out that my store has quite the odd little following. I only work a few days a week (two jobs, remember), but I've seen the same faces again and again, and I thought it was high time to introduce them to you.

The very first set of regulars I'd ever heard of was Those Homeless... Guys. Okay, it sounds like an insensitive title, but let me explain. Almost every day, a homeless couple comes into our store. They rarely buy anything, but my boss never minds because they're very polite and always put up whatever they take out to read. We never really know what to call them, because the taller one is very clearly a Homeless Guy. He's ratty with a full-on-beard and a huge backpack filled with all his things. His companion is shorter and stockier and also clearly a Homeless Guy... until you realize that from the neck down, his anatomy very clearly says Homeless Chick. I'm not just talking about a girl with an androgynous face. I'm talking about very, very mixed signals. When you're instructed to address people as sir or ma'am, such a situation can be very awkward.

One of my favorite regulars is The Red Dwarf Fan Guy. He told me his name once, but I forgot it. He's really tall with an earring in one ear and always wears a black beret. Despite being probably in his forties, this guy out-geeks even me. I made the mistake once of trying to follow a conversation between him and my fellow cashier and was almost instantly lost. He's watched what sounded like every sci-fi TV show or movie known to man. I like Doctor Who, but he's even watched the ones back in the '60s. I like Star Wars, but he's got the entire canon memorized. I ended up just nodding dumbly and pretending like I knew what was going on. He left with the recommendation that I try watching The Red Dwarf  TV show. I haven't yet, but maybe I will someday.

Another regular (who, for some reason, only ever seems to come on my days in) is The Doomsday Prepper. He's a big guy with an bristly grey beard and camo pants, but he's pretty normal other than his reading choices. At least, that's what I thought until the day he came in looking for The Anarchist's Cookbook. You know, the wackjob bomb-making book? Even then, I probably wouldn't have been too concerned if he hadn't kept trying to reassure me that he was just curious and not a nutjob. The more someone tries to convince you that everything's okay, the more you should worry. That's my personal motto. Then he warned me that the Feds would probably come asking around, but that it would be okay, because he's just "John Q. Public... just John Q. Public." But he called me hun, so I should probably be okay.

Of course, not every regular is so much fun.

For instance, every week there's one particular old guy who comes in. He comes in with his newspaper and heads over to the cafe. Our cafe person despises him. You see, he only drinks a special blend of coffee that no one else ever drinks, so the girl in the cafe always has to brew a special pot of coffee just for him. Not cool. It's not like he even acts terribly appreciative. He never buys a book either, so I only learned to recognize him from the cafe girl. Mr. Special Coffee Guy was one of the first regulars I learned to know on sight.

Another regular, The Returner, was actually warned to stop being so regular. All the stores in our area were warned to watch for her, because she got in the bad habit of buying books and then returning them a few days later... after reading them, of course. Oddly, she had a special penchant for reading and returning different versions of the Bible. I'm not sure why.

The Cheapskate, on the other hand, is a regular we wish we could wave away. Now, I love a deal as much as the next girl, but this lady toodles on in every week in her Hoverround to paw through the sale books. But she doesn't stop there, oh no. She hunts down books with superficial damage and tries to bargain. Now if a book has moderate to severe damage, we can offer a 10% discount, but that's all. Look, lady, I appreciate that you want to save money, but if you think you're going to get me to give you a book for half-off, you're nuts.

There are other regulars, such as The Monday Group, The Outdoorsy Girly-Girl, and The Woman with the Awesome Hair. I have to say they all certainly make work interesting.

Do you have interesting regulars where you work? And if you were a regular at my store, what do you think YOUR moniker would be?

Free images used from www.freedigitalphotos.net