A Funny Thing Happened…

A funny thing happened at the Barnes and Noble last week. I had stopped in to browse a little before an afternoon class, and picked up an issue of Writer’s Digest. As I checked out, the clerk — an older woman — asked if I was a writer.

“Yeah,” I responded, “I am.”

“What do you write?” she asked.

“Well, I’m a professor at the University, so a lot of my writing is academic stuff, but I also write quite a bit online, mostly how to-type articles.”

At the mention of my teaching, she lit up. “What do you teach?”

“I teach Women’s Studies at the university, and anthropology at the community college.” I’ll admit I wasn’t all that interested in a chat — I wanted to get some lunch before my class started, too — but I’m always willing to talk about my work with an interested party.

“Oh, I took women’s studies at San Jose State years ago. All the professors were hardcore bull dykes!”

Oh. So we’re not going to talk about my work, I see. To be honest, I was pretty taken aback — was the bookstore clerk trained to insult customers’ academic fields, or did she learn it in her spare time?

“Well, you know, there’s all sorts…” I started.

I’m a femininist,” she declared.

Always one for the wordplay, I asked if that was the opposite of a femin-out-ist.

“No,” she replied, apparently missing my subtle linguistic tricksterism, “it’s the opposite of a feminist. I was one of the first card-carrying members of NOW, back when it started. The ACLU, too. But I learned better, believe me!”

“Well, yeah, ok,” I said, backing towards the door. “Well…”

“I have a master’s degree in child development, and [something something something — I wasn’t terribly interested at this point]. I worked with autistic children for years — you know you’re getting through to them when they say ‘fuck you’.”

“Well, I have to go,” I said, lamely, and walked out the door. I admit, while I generally give employees of stores I patronize a lot of latitude, having been a clerk for several years of my life, but seriously, I’ve never had a job, no matter how bad, where I felt justified in attacking a customer or free to use profanity with a customer (and I’m not exactly sure how we got to the autistic children thing). I probably should have complained, but I think the world’s better off with her behind the register at a B&N than going back to childhood development!

What a strange thing to happen. All I wanted was a magazine!

No comments yet to A Funny Thing Happened…

  • Anonymous

    You could’ve just told her
    You could’ve just told her you were a dyke too.

  • Anonymous

    Yikes. Geez. Good grief.
    Yikes. Geez. Good grief. Thanks for the laugh.”All I wanted was a magazine.” Funny :)

  • Anonymous

    Ha ha ha, this was really
    Ha ha ha, this was really interesting and educational to read! Unbelievable how far the politeness to stay (alive) in chat can carry us. This could easily qualify for a short story! Dialog is superb! And I wonder what happened next, and what happened before to that amazing hardcore-friendly bookstore anaconda. This blog really rocks!

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