Jawdrop Moment

I was shelving books the other day, and was approached by a customer, book in hand. Nothing unusual there, it’s part and parcel of my daily work routine.

The customer wanted to know if we had the latest book by the author they had just finished reading – which was a bit of a problem because they held in their hand The Quarry – the last book written by Iain Banks before his death in 2013.

I gently broke it to them that this wouldn’t be possible – barring an upcoming non fiction work due out next year based on his notes and drawings around his Culture series of books. I thought that perhaps this was what they meant when they asked after his next book

And this is where the conversation wandered sideways a little: I was berated for keeping the books of a dead man on the shelves if there weren’t going to be any more books by them.

I’d love to say that I had the presence of mind to sassily spread my arms to encompass the many, many works by dead people on our shelves, but they turned on their heel and walked out, leaving the book on top of the desk beside us before I could gather my wits.

I love working with the public, and sometimes it is precisely because of the surreal conversations I have with them.

Consider That You May Be Wrong

I was cornered (literally) recently by someone who had had rather a lot to drink, and who had some pressing truths that he wished to share or possibly impart upon me. So yes, I got harangued by a drunken relative recently. What was I harangued about? Well, to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure – as it was a long rambling monologue that veered between the present day, my childhood, parental behaviour, my being an enigma, the infrequency of visits to this person, my coming out, my relationships, my immediate family, and that I had been heralded as someone who would take over the world one day.

Now, aside from a champagne glass that I had held aloft to join in toasts, and a glass or two of wine with the meal, I was entirely sober – and so was mindful enough to cock an eyebrow and let them ramble rather than try to unpick the unholy mess.

Since then, I have been trying to unpick it slowly so that I can process and discard each element rather than trying to react at the time even as another three statements were loaded on top. The whole thing was topped off with the quote that I’ve used as the title to today’s blog – “Consider that you might be wrong.”

Now, my entire modus operandi is to assume that I might, and probably am, wrong – it manifests as perfectionism, hypercriticality of myself, and no small degree of anxiety on an ongoing basis – so “consider that you might be wrong” is hardly a great challenge. As the conversation didn’t actually specify what I might want to be considering, I thought it best to just let the monologue die rather than wade into some potentially very murky waters.

Was I being urged to consider that I am wrong about my career choices? Or about my relationships and sexuality? Was I being told I was wrong to be an enigma, whatever was meant by that? Or was it wrong that I had decided to be myself rather than following someone else’s path for me?

It’s been nagging at me, but I don’t think I want to go back to the individual concerned to ask clarification questions because I don’t owe them any answers or explanations, and if they can’t directly ask me questions, why should I struggle to interpret a series of convoluted insinuations?

Ugh.

I feel better for getting that down on the page.