John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Why swearing at sales clerks is a good idea

This past Thursday, a woman approached me at the customer service desk and asked if I could help her find a book. She told me the author's name, and then said, "the title is, How to Do Something in the Woods."

"How to Do Something in the Woods?" I repeated.

"Well, no, it's not Do Something, it's… a word I don't like to say. A four-letter word."

"I understand," I assured her, and turned to the computer to try to find the book. I typed in the title and received hits on several different books, but none with that exact title. I did an exact phrase search on the title, and got no results at all. I tried an out-of-print search, and a search on the author's name. "I'm not finding anything with that title or that author," I said, "but let me try a couple other things."

Meanwhile, I was listening to the customer talk to E. It was her husband who wanted the book, she explained, for a camping trip this weekend. E said that it wasn't going to be a good weekend for camping, since it was supposed to be cold and rainy; she agreed, and it was a shame, since this would be her son's first camping trip since moving up from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. My eyes went wide, and I struggled to keep from turning toward her and gaping in open astonishment.

As I listened and tried to keep my expression neutral, I was performing an exact phrase search on "in the woods." Finding nothing on the first page of results, I clicked through to the second. About halfway down the page, I found the book she wanted: How to Shit in the Woods. "Oh," I exclaimed, relieved and a little too loudly, "that four letter word!"

Anyway, we didn't have it, but they had one at the Reston store, so happy endings all around. The moral of the story: don't be so prudish when you're shopping for books, damn it.

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