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Robin Rose Yuran writes
Bookseller From Hell
By BarbBarb Yuran
â€œIf itâ€™s Jim Schvantz (not real name), Iâ€™m booked to die.â€? The phone is ringing at the circ desk with a distinctive Schvantzy-sounding ring and I am making this dramatic slicing motion across my throat. Bookseller from Hell has been hounding me for weeks now and I have been avoiding him like head lice. Heâ€™s smarmy, heâ€™s whiny, heâ€™s guilt-trippy and heâ€™s attached himself to me like a barnacle. Itâ€™s like he thinks Iâ€™ve been in pursuit of some obscure set of books- I donâ€™t know, maybe Dust Bunnies Abroad: Country by Country- and only he has it. He makes me want to drink gin at 9:00 in the morning. He lies like the mother of all rugs. He is a rug.
It began innocently enough. It always does. Never underestimate the power of mendacity delivered with a teaspoonful of guilt. He calls. He says he dealt for years with the former director (I happen to know this is not true- the person he names had been dead for forty years). He asks when he can stop by to introduce himself to me because he is absolutely certain that I would love to continue this warm and fuzzy relationship. I tell him anytime after 2:00 Friday. I immediately regret it. Then I completely forget about it. Friday is warm and sunny. My favorite ex-intern who is now a junior in college calls and asks me if I want to go to lunch at 1:00. I say sure. As we cross the parking lot I see a man with a dolly piled high with crates of books. Clue. I could have kept walking. But Iâ€™m stupid. Eyeballing his cargo, which appears to conjure up all the animal adjectives for books- dog-eared, ratty, slightly foxed, I approach and ask if he needs help.
â€œYes,â€? he replies, â€œI am looking for Barb.â€? Ruh roh. Thatâ€™d be me. â€œI have an appointment with her at 1:00 oâ€™clock.â€?
Sniveling, lying, poopy man. I should not admit to being the person he is looking for, but because I am apparently brain dead, I do. But I also remind him that I what I had actually agreed to was â€œany time after 2:00.â€? (I am thinking that Iâ€™d better start using that memo calendar in my nice black briefcase for more than just a prop at board meetings.) It is all coming back like a bad dream. No, he insists, the meeting was at 1:00. Clearly he wants me to cave. And I almost do, but I realize he is playing me and I have had it up to my v-neckline with the morningâ€™s share of linguistically-challenged telemarketers. (I think that I will start calling India- I will speak broken Hindi and try to sell things to people.) Pushy little twirp. Does he really think that stopping by to â€˜introduceâ€™ himself means I have committed to sit with him for about a million years which is how long it will take for him to trot out his whole stupid collection of dog-rat-foxness? A-no-ha. I tell him I am awfully sorry for the misunderstanding. He says he had to drive for over an hour just to get here. (Have a nice guilt trip, see ya next fall!) I put on a sad face and tell him to leave me some catalogues- thatâ€™s the best I can do right now and Iâ€™ll get back to him. Like never, maybe. His voice gives me hives. I can smell his cologne and we are out of doors. He could make even a nicer person than me not nice.
So, let the games begin. First I eat the box of chocolates he left on my desk. Then, dodging phone calls like incoming meteorites, I spend days, weeks avoiding Schvantz-man. Finally, one day, I am totally busted. â€œNorthfork Library, this is Barb.â€?
â€œHello, Jim Schvantz here.â€? Jimâ€™s oleaginous voice oozes through the telephone like â€˜possum guts.I tell him that I have looked through his catalogues (mainly a lie), that my budget is short (truth), and I only deal with Baker and Taylor (mostly truth).â€œWhat exactly is it you are LOOKING for?â€? He is raising his voice with me and my left eye starts to twitch.
â€œNothing. I am not LOOKING for anything.â€? I remain calm but firm. I tell him thank you but I am not interested in anything he has to offer and he may stop and pick up his catalogues at anytime.
â€œWHOA! WHOA! WHOA!â€? He is shouting now with a nasty little alpha dog yipyipyip. â€œYOU HOLD ON JUST A MINUTE, LADY!â€?
Oh boy, not feelinâ€™ like no lady. I enunciate each word. â€œI do not like your tone of voice. I do not like your attitude. I am hanging up the phone now.â€? I do.
My co-director has stopped in mid stair on my left and is looking at me with interest as I put down the phone. â€œTelemarketer.â€? I shrug. He nods, descends and goes into the office.
I am sure that I am finished with Jim. But- woe, woe, woe. What to my wondering eyes should appear about two weeks later? The Fed-Ex guy wheels in a great big dolly (I am learning to be scared of guys who play with dollies for a living) with four great big boxes. Huh. An entire brand new set of Britannica encyclopedias that I did not order. Actually, itâ€™s kinda funny when I find Schvantzyâ€™s name on the invoice with a bill for $1074.60. Guess he got me. Duh. I call headquarters and report the incident. Even his boss thinks itâ€™s funny. For about a second. I am looking forward to the bookmanâ€™s wake."