After working at the bookstore for so long, I got to know many of the “regulars.” They were the people who would come and sit and read for twelve hours at a time on Saturdays and Sundays, but never buy anything, or the ones who would walk out with a high stack each time. I would begin recognizing them outside of the store, giving them a perky, “Hi!” when I’d see them at the grocery store or the post office. They would give me a highly confused face, not recognizing me out of context and without my Barnes and Noble nametag. There were regulars with children, and those were the ones I usually felt the greatest attachment too, as I'd see them when the mom was pregnant, then watch a little reader grow through the years. There were also many transvestites (yeah, I've wondered why myself.) And, there was a really cute young teacher who reminded me of Steve from Sex and the City.
However, some of the regulars never even set foot in the store.
There was an older woman who would call every Sunday to ask us for advice. (We later learned that she was calling the library every other day, and only called us sine the library was closed on Sunday.) She would begin every conversation the same way. “Can I ask you an etiquette question?” She wasn’t looking for answers to, “How do I fold my napkin?” but things like, “I need to call my daughter, but the phone is right by the baby’s crib and he should be sleeping now, and if I call her, the phone might ring and the baby might wake up. Would it be rude if I called?” And, “I was just talking to a family member on the phone, and when we hung up, I said, ‘I love you’, and they just said, “Thank you.” What do you think they meant by that?”
She would call several times in a row, each time asking the same exact question. After a while, everybody would just automatically pass those calls onto me, because I was the only one with any kind of patience for her. Sean would page me to pick up her calls...whenever I would hear a giggle in his voice over the intercom, I knew that the Advice Lady was on the other end.
I would seriously think about her and worry, imagining how alone she must have felt that she had nobody to call but the local library and bookstore.
She stopped calling suddenly!
I wish I knew what happened to her...