Earlier today, I took a phone call from a customer who was looking for a book called Cooking Rocks! by Rachael Ray. And the very first thing that popped into my head, after she mentioned the title but before she mentioned the author, was, "Cooking rocks? Why… Oh." And not in a referential way. I'm just that dumb.
Part II: "If we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something."
Later in the day, a woman came in looking for books by a particular author, one of whose other books she had recently read and enjoyed. But she didn't remember the name of the book she'd read, nor the author's name, other than that his first name was Ian. I suggested Ian McEwan, but that wasn't it. She said that he wrote what she would call "intellectual fiction," and that he also wrote a series of sleuth novels about an Italian detective. I was clueless, so we went up to customer service to perform a search just on the name Ian. I got a bunch of hits—Ian Rankin, Ian Caldwell, Ian Graham, Ian Stewart, Ian Falconer, Ian Kerner, Ian Davis—but none of them were the right Ian.
Finally she said she'd just walk through the fiction section and hope it would jump out at her. We walked over there together; she suggested it might be among the classics (it wasn't). As we were standing in the classics aisle, one of the managers, A, walked by. I said, "Hey, do you know an author named Ian who writes literary fiction and a series of detective novels?" She did, though she couldn't remember his last name. But his first name, she continued, had an unusual spellings, though again she couldn't remember how it was spelled.
"Yes!" cried the customer. "It's spelled 'Iain.'"
"Oh!" I said. "Why didn't you tell me that, you stupid woman?" I did not continue. "When you're trying to find an author based only his first name, how his first name is spelled is not a trivial detail!" While I was not saying that either, I walked back up to Customer Service and found the author for whom she was searching: Iain Pears, author of The Dream of Scipio. And we had a book of his she hadn't read, so yay us.
Part III: "And you're sure this was the tomb of Alfalfa?"
When I was said the name of the aforementioned Iain Pears novel to the woman above, I pronounced the last word in the title, "Sippy-O." Because that's how that name is pronounced. I don't remember much of what I learned in Latin, but I still know the pronunciation rules. Anyway, on hearing me say the name, she said, "Skippy-O," presumably in an good-natured attempt to "correct" my "mistake." I didn't respond, and continued pronouncing it with a silent C. To her credit, she eventually asked if the way I was pronouncing it was the way it was pronounced. I allowed as how it was, and she said, "I didn't realize. Thank you!" So, not so stupid after all, I guess.