Bookseller from Hell

Robin Rose Yuran writes

Bookseller From Hell

By BarbBarb Yuran

“If it’s Jim Schvantz (not real name), I’m booked to die.� The phone is ringing at the circ desk with a distinctive Schvantzy-sounding ring and I am making this dramatic slicing motion across my throat. Bookseller from Hell has been hounding me for weeks now and I have been avoiding him like head lice. He’s smarmy, he’s whiny, he’s guilt-trippy and he’s attached himself to me like a barnacle. It’s like he thinks I’ve been in pursuit of some obscure set of books- I don’t know, maybe Dust Bunnies Abroad: Country by Country- and only he has it. He makes me want to drink gin at 9:00 in the morning. He lies like the mother of all rugs. He is a rug.
        It began innocently enough. It always does. Never underestimate the power of mendacity delivered with a teaspoonful of guilt. He calls. He says he dealt for years with the former director (I happen to know this is not true- the person he names had been dead for forty years). He asks when he can stop by to introduce himself to me because he is absolutely certain that I would love to continue this warm and fuzzy relationship. I tell him anytime after 2:00 Friday. I immediately regret it. Then I completely forget about it. Friday is warm and sunny. My favorite ex-intern who is now a junior in college calls and asks me if I want to go to lunch at 1:00. I say sure. As we cross the parking lot I see a man with a dolly piled high with crates of books. Clue. I could have kept walking. But I’m stupid. Eyeballing his cargo, which appears to conjure up all the animal adjectives for books- dog-eared, ratty, slightly foxed, I approach and ask if he needs help.
                  “Yes,â€? he replies, “I am looking for Barb.â€? Ruh roh. That’d be me. “I have an appointment with her at 1:00 o’clock.â€?
                    Sniveling, lying, poopy man. I should not admit to being the person he is looking for, but because I am apparently brain dead, I do. But I also remind him that I what I had actually agreed to was “any time after 2:00.â€? (I am thinking that I’d better start using that memo calendar in my nice black briefcase for more than just a prop at board meetings.) It is all coming back like a bad dream. No, he insists, the meeting was at 1:00. Clearly he wants me to cave. And I almost do, but I realize he is playing me and I have had it up to my v-neckline with the morning’s share of linguistically-challenged telemarketers. (I think that I will start calling India- I will speak broken Hindi and try to sell things to people.) Pushy little twirp. Does he really think that stopping by to ‘introduce’ himself means I have committed to sit with him for about a million years which is how long it will take for him to trot out his whole stupid collection of dog-rat-foxness? A-no-ha. I tell him I am awfully sorry for the misunderstanding. He says he had to drive for over an hour just to get here. (Have a nice guilt trip, see ya next fall!) I put on a sad face and tell him to leave me some catalogues- that’s the best I can do right now and I’ll get back to him. Like never, maybe. His voice gives me hives. I can smell his cologne and we are out of doors. He could make even a nicer person than me not nice.
        So, let the games begin. First I eat the box of chocolates he left on my desk. Then, dodging phone calls like incoming meteorites, I spend days, weeks avoiding Schvantz-man. Finally, one day, I am totally busted. “Northfork Library, this is Barb.â€?
        “Hello, Jim Schvantz here.â€? Jim’s oleaginous voice oozes through the telephone like ‘possum guts.I tell him that I have looked through his catalogues (mainly a lie), that my budget is short (truth), and I only deal with Baker and Taylor (mostly truth).“What exactly is it you are LOOKING for?â€? He is raising his voice with me and my left eye starts to twitch.
                        “Nothing. I am not LOOKING for anything.â€? I remain calm but firm. I tell him thank you but I am not interested in anything he has to offer and he may stop and pick up his catalogues at anytime.
                      “WHOA! WHOA! WHOA!â€? He is shouting now with a nasty little alpha dog yipyipyip. “YOU HOLD ON JUST A MINUTE, LADY!â€?
                      Oh boy, not feelin’ like no lady. I enunciate each word. “I do not like your tone of voice. I do not like your attitude. I am hanging up the phone now.â€? I do.
                        My co-director has stopped in mid stair on my left and is looking at me with interest as I put down the phone. “Telemarketer.â€? I shrug. He nods, descends and goes into the office.
        I am sure that I am finished with Jim. But- woe, woe, woe. What to my wondering eyes should appear about two weeks later? The Fed-Ex guy wheels in a great big dolly (I am learning to be scared of guys who play with dollies for a living) with four great big boxes. Huh. An entire brand new set of Britannica encyclopedias that I did not order. Actually, it’s kinda funny when I find Schvantzy’s name on the invoice with a bill for $1074.60. Guess he got me. Duh. I call headquarters and report the incident. Even his boss thinks it’s funny. For about a second. I am looking forward to the bookman’s wake."

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A simple policy helps the backbone a little

I do not take telephone solitications from vendors at work (well *any* phone sales at home neither for that matter).If salespeople want to send me something in the mail I'll be sure and give it the attention it deserves. Problem solved.Of course that doesn't stop the higher-ups from scheduling meetings with reps pushing things we can't possibly afford. Oh well, it's good to see what's out there I guess -- which is also the only reason we accept unsolicited database trials for things outside our price range.

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