Sunday, June 29, 2008

Attack Of The Robot Librarian Lady

So this weekend we're on vacation at a little touristy bookstore, browsing around for easy reading (I've finally finished Shakespeare Wars, and though I brought it with me, Asimov's is just too much a brick to bring to the beach).  So we walk in and this little old lady greets us.  "The great this about history," she says, noting that we are standing next to the history section, "Is that today it's being written to be readable."  Great.  We've shown no interest in history, it's just where she cornered us.

Having announced that, she then spots one of our group who has moved to the next section, which is actually Mathematics.  "The other day," she tells my friend, "Someone came in and purchased one of our math books.  He said it was for the beach.  So now I never question it when somebody wants something for the beach."

And on it went, with this woman spouting random things about random sections of her store.  Well, I find the Shakespeare section, and a book I don't have - something like "Everything I Need To Know I Learned From William Shakespeare."  It's in hardcover and appears to be $19.95, but you never know about markdowns so I go up to the desk and ask about the price.  "I love Bill Bryson!" she says, and begins flipping through the book.

"I do too," I say. "But that's not Bill Bryson's book. Though I have read that one, it was very good."

"The one that just came out?" she asks.

"It came out last year, I got it for Christmas," I say.

"Wonderful," she says, and hands back the book.

I don't take it from her.  "Could you tell me how much this one costs?"

"Oh!" she says, "You did ask me that.  Let's see....$19.95."

I thank her and put the book back, then take my other purchases up to the desk.  My friend calls out, "You're not going to get that one?"

"Nah," I call back.  "I like reading about the man, but you can only read so much, especially when it's the same biographical stuff over and over again."

"Who?" asks the lady behind the counter.

"William Shakespeare," I say, and wait for my amusing anecdote.

"Do you know who the man is who's been more written about than any one else?  Lincoln.  When Doris Kearns Goodwin wanted to write about Lincoln she didn't know what to do, so she wrote about all the men who had campaigned against him...."

And that's what I got for my Shakespeare references, a story about a Lincoln biographer (whose name I may have messed up).  As we left I leaned over and told my friend, "You know, Lincoln had a secretary named Shakespeare, and Shakespeare had a secretary named Lincoln....."


We decided that a) she was clearly a retired librarian, given her desire to teach about books without anybody asking her too, and b) she was a robot who was trained to spot people in front of section X and then tell a story relevant to section X.

1 comment:

catkins said...

I remember reading Paul Ramsey's "A Fickle Glass" on the beach. I still have my notes tucked away in back of the book. Really enjoyed it. Never read a math book on the beach, though.