Remember I said that in Fish Hoek when you walk into some shops your soul shrivels? A couple of weeks ago I’d run out of library books to read and traipsed to the library, only to find it closed for stock-taking for a whole week. Muttering imprecations I walked back to the village, and – aha! – saw a 2nd hand bookstore I’d never spied before! My spirits rose instantly, and I skipped inside.
Whoo. Something hit me in the solar plexus. Not nice in there. The women who worked there looked mean. Nice books though, so I steeled myself against whatever weird feelings I was having, chose a couple and swore I’d never come back.
But, I can’t live without a book to read at night, and sometimes it’s a mission to walk to the damn library, so when those books were finished I found myself back in the shop. Same horrid experience, same promise to myself.
I know, thick as a brick. Slow learner. The problem was, when I got home I realized I’d read one of the books. Why can’t I remember these things? Never mind, I thought, I’m sure they’ll exchange it. Completely overriding my gut, which was in yelling mode Don’t go back there!
I went back there, sure they’d just exchange for me, laugh at how easy it is to forget you’ve read a book.
Yes well. Three wrinkled, soul-deadened women descended on me at my request, eyes flashing, angry gnarled spirits lashing out, small-town type sarcasm dripping from tongues. In short no, they wouldn’t exchange the book, because clearly I was a liar and a would-be rip-off artist. But they would buy it back from me for a third of the price. I could feel my blood pressure shooting through the roof. Do I look like a criminal?
I took it all with great dignity, which made them all ashamed. Bullies don’t like feeling ashamed – not that they’ll admit it, though. They had one last weapon in their arsenal of spite and heavy-handed superiority. “You mustn’t take this personally, you’ve got to understand – ”. Seriously trying to flatten me into submission.
Ha. I smartly interrupted with a cheeky “no I don’t, I don’t have to understand anything. I’m the client. And I take it very personally.” They didn’t like it. I was laughing at them. “You just accused me of being a con-artist, a liar. You saved the bookstore R23 and for that you’ve lost my business forever.” Then I brought out my big gun.
“Plus I’m a journalist. Think of all the people I’m going to tell about my experience. By the way who owns this store, can I have their number?” Ooh ooh, how they huddled together in fear, which made me laugh out loud on the inside. Gotcha!
I swanned out. Well that was fun. So what if I’m not really a journalist? I’ve written some news articles. That counts, doesn’t it. Oh dear, life in a small town, it’s getting to me.
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