In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Life in sales: always surprising

Dear Annie,

It's That Time of Year again at the toy and book store.  Things are very busy, I'm working huge hours and it's all kind of fun.  Around now it just becomes riding the wave until the end -- not much more I can do in terms of ordering; we just hope supplies will last.

So it was especially lovely that in the middle of all the chaos, I was blessed with the Best Customer Complaint Ever.  I had helped a very nice, 70-ish woman; she bought an
A. A. Milne boxed set
: both Winnie-the-Pooh books and the two poetry ones.  As she was leaving, she took me aside and said, "I think you need to talk to your manager behind the counter about language."  We're a store with kids in it all day, so we're all very conscious of needing to avoid  profanity.  The person she was talking about is very mild-mannered.  She gave me a steely look and said sternly, "'Him and me' should never start a sentence!"

I thanked her for her grammatical concern, filed it away to smile about with Will, and went on to the next customer.  It was funny, because Will himself cares deeply about usage -- I couldn't tell if she attributed the remark to him, or she just felt that he should enforce higher standards with other staff members.  I later learned that she managed to confront Will directly and they had a very pleasant discussion of various grammatical errors of this era.  On her way out of the store, she found me and said I didn't need to talk to Will after all -- "He's on our side."

So here I am on the side of matching subject and verb, happy that I meet strangers who care about such things, and enjoying the serendipity of my profession.

I hope you and yours are having a pleasant run-up to Christmas.



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