There actually are customers that make my job enjoyable. Vicki Turner is one of them.
Somewhere in her 70's-80's, Mrs. Turner is a tiny little thing that never makes it out of her house without her neatly pressed monotone dress and her thick hair perfectly pulled up into a bun and dyed jet black, which is also the color of her painted on eyebrows. She looks like an elderly china doll.
Do you remember Kathy Bates' character in "Titanic?" Rich lady who knew what poor felt like and never let money get to her head? White Trash poor lady becomes White Trash rich lady, and everyone loved both pre- and post-money Kathy Bates? That's Vicki Turner.
"Listen Hun," or "Listen sweetie," are the first words out of Mrs. Turner's mouth when she speaks with me over the phone. She will then ask if we have some obscure book in the store and, if not, if we could order it. She is never disappointed when we don't have something, because she knows we can't have everything, as some customers believe. She knows we will order it and there is not a chance that she will NOT get by the store later on.
Either her or her husband comes by at least once a week. When I open the store in the morning my first task, after deactivating the alarm, is to pull back a New York Times and a Wall Street Journal for the Vicki Turner pile behind the cashier. Included in the stacks are Art books, Novels from every genre and time, obscure Political Philosophy titles, and Playboy, for Mr. Turner. "I get them so he can read the articles. Listen, Hun, I bet you hear that all the time! Articles...please." The Turners spend at least$200 a week, after the Member discount.
I love Vicki Turner.
A few weeks ago she asked if we had any books on "Will & Grace."
"Honey, do you ever watch that show?"
"I watched it for a few seasons. I think it's funny."
"Honey, listen, I tell ya... Those four characters make my life worth living sometimes. Who is your favorite?
"I really like Karen."
(Her laughing) "I KNEW you were going to say that. She's a hoot, isn't she?"
She informed me that she started watching the show on Lifetime and has deliberately not watched it in Prime Time because she wants to get caught up.
But last week, in the middle of a busy time, she called and told one of our booksellers, "Listen, child, I have GOT to speak with Craig. Get him on the phone."
It took me a while to get free to answer. When I did...
"Thanks for holding, this is Craig..."
"Listen Hun, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?! Is Stan dead or alive, you've got to tell me!"
She made the mistake of watching Prime Time. On Lifetime during the day she saw Stan's funeral and on NBC at night she saw Karen talking about something Stan had said. I had to explain the (real lame) story about Stan not really being dead.
"Ok, child, well I'm glad I'm not going crazy!"
This is what I like about working with the public: There are some people who know how to be citizens. They are friendly. They frequent Cheers and the Nantucket Airport and the Regal Begal and Al's (formerly Arnold's) and The Max, and they LOVE being out and about. These people know they spend their money for service, but they also spend it for a friendly face and a helpful hand. They care about people and just get it, that being nice really is a virtue to be sought after.
I won't pour a glass for many people outside my circle of friends, but I'll pour one for Vicki Turner. Here's to you, Sweetie!