Have you ever had an encounter with a book store creep? It could be that we go to book stores often enough that we’ve had more chances to have this problem. I say we, here, because my wife tends to have these encounters more often than I, and usually, but not always with men who are acting creepily. I guess book stores are not exempt from this type of behavior. Here are some kinds we have encountered:
The Hit-man. This is the guy (usually a guy) who is trying to hit on women and mistakes the book store for a bar, or perhaps just isn’t the kind who frequents the bar. What is weird is that my wife and I are not young. Usually I will discover this has happened when my wife suddenly starts shadowing me in the store–our interests are relatively dissimilar, so when this happens I know something is up. These people need to find books on appropriate boundaries and cultivating healthy relationships!
The Overly-Familiar. This person may be trying to hit on you, but more often, they are just needy. Usually they will make some remark to get your attention and if you respond, suddenly, they are your new best friend and start telling you about their break-ups with significant others, their medical problems, the stuff that is broken down in their house, their economic woes and on and on (and on). Often leaving the store–or feigning a sudden need to use the facilities is the only way to get away.
The Invader. This is the person who simply pushes in front of you without even an “excuse me” or “pardon me” or a “there is something I was looking for in this section.” The only solution is to stay up close to the books you are looking at, which you usually think of too late. Mostly, I just conclude that tangling with such types is kind of like taking on the person who cuts you off in traffic–perilous to say the least.
The Camper. That’s the person who sits down in a chair, or on the floor and just occupies the very set of shelves you were hoping to look at and is utterly impervious to those social cues that you might actually like to look at the books in that area. Often, I’ll take off for a while and look at other things and come back. If they still don’t get the message, they are definitely a camper whose motto is “possession is 9/10ths of the law”.
The Flatulator. This last type is becoming increasingly popular in book stores and other contexts. Have you noticed how jokes about “breaking wind” and other such conversation is no longer limited to middle school boys? Seems that the practice isn’t either. I’ve noticed two types. One is the person who just likes to satisfy the urge whenever they have it, no matter who is around. The other is the “skunk” who uses this as an offensive weapon to keep people out of their space. Usually works!
Perhaps one lesson in all this for those of us nerdy enough to hang out at book stores frequently is to ask whether we might be inadvertently slipping into some of these “creepy” behaviors. Most of us really find our enjoyment of the book store experience diminished when we encounter one of these folks. The real question is, are we becoming one of them?
What are your stories of encounters with book store creeps? And how have you dealt with them?