Thursday, December 29, 2011

Did Santa Bring You Books for Christmas?

I know the Season of Senseless Spending isn’t over yet but I thought I’d write a little note since I have a tiny window of opportunity this morning (I’m sober). Book sales went through the roof this summer when I started telling my customers that the pocketbook they were buying was actually an e-reader and where the hell else could they get an e-reader for $5.95. Now it’s true that most of my customers ignore this remark but a few are delighted with the deal and isn’t it all about delighting your customers? Things get even better when some come back complaining that their Beazleybook e-reader seems to be frozen on one single book. Obviously a Microsoft Windows crash, I explain, but it’s easy-peasy to fix. I just replace the old book with a new book and charge $9 for the repair (OK, so it’s only really a reboot) but I guarantee my product so I’ll repair the damn thing every time it breaks.

Now like most adults, I wish the holiday season lasted for only 1 long week-end. Imagine only three days of attack-dog style shopping, artery-blocking meals and frozen hours in the car driving to yet another damn family meal, maybe the one where old Uncle Maxwell forgets where he is and starts shouting that he won’t eat another bite until his catheter is removed.

On sale at the store this week*:

Fire Eating, A Manual of Instruction

1993. The perfect gift for the grandchildren. Some pages are water-stained.

The Permanent War or Homo the Sap
1943. I don't know what the hell this book is about.

Butterflies in my Stomach, The Insect World as a Source of Human Food
1975. At last, the definitive work on this holiday season subject

Purgatory Quizzes to a Street Preacher, Catholigetic Subjects Baffling to Converts
1939. No, 'Catholigetic' is not a typo.

Your Basement Fallout Shelter, Survival in Likely Target areas
1963. Has fold-out building diagrams, great place to sit and cry during the next financial melt-down.

*Prices are a pittance, and only one copy of each book is available, so hurry in while supplies last!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Birds of a Feather

I never thought I’d meet someone who made the parrot lady look normal. That woman used to come into the store with 2 parrots, one perched on her shoulder pirate-style and the other in a filthy old baby carriage. They were huge tropical creatures with meter long tail feathers, beaks like the Kraken and evil tempers to match. Once, in all innocence I asked her if her birds performed any tricks and she answered of course they did. She placed one of them on the floor and said, “poop Reginald, poop, poop”, and beamed proudly when the wretched beast crapped on my floor. Good trick!

But this morning, Madame Parrot met her match. A lady came into the store murmuring quietly to herself and holding a bag to her chest and as she moved down the aisle I thought I heard a muted shriek of distress. Now, I’m deaf in one ear so I can’t tell where the sound is coming from. It might be that damn feral cat caught in the basement again or the elderly painting class next door having another gin-and paint party, so I get up to investigate and I hear the sound again, but this time it sounds like a bird gurgling. A very sad gurgle. Whatever was in the woman’s bag started to coo and bloody gurgle with each breath and finally I said, lady, do you have a bird in your bag? She said yes, yes, my dove. I tried to smile but I’m not sure what kind of facial expression I formed. She turned away and began saying things like, “there, there, we’re going home soon, momma’s almost finished, is baby tired?” I had a terrible thought. What if there was no bird! What if she was in the terminal stages of Organic Crazy Person Syndrome? I had to know, so I walked over and said, can I see your bird? Now if you ask that question of a person that isn’t carrying around a bird, you risk assault, but I’m relieved to report that there was indeed a bird in her bag. A comfortable looking, clean white dove in a bed of fresh green grass.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yes, I really said that...

The secret to a long happy marriage is never saying “I told you so”. I was doing lawn work with Donna the other day and she said that she would mow the front lawn and I said be careful because the lawn has a steep slope and she said, yeah yeah whatever. Five minutes later she strolls up to me and says, ‘for some reason the lawnmower is flipped over on its back’. I did not say ‘I told you so’, I just righted the machine and pulled the start-cord and suddenly clouds of black smoke billowed out but that was the least of my worries because when I yanked the cord I elbowed Donna, bam in the nose, and she was crabbing away from me with her hands to her face and I’m wondering, should I say I’m sorry even though it’s her fault for standing in the wrong place? Well, the second secret to a long marriage is the man must always apologise for everything his wife does.

So this couple come into the store with their 8 year-old daughter and I suspect they’re Mennonites or something and the woman puts a few books on the counter and whispers, I’m not from here and I can’t help noticing there are an awful lot of immigrants around. Well, I said, I’m all for immigration because without them we would be depopulating. Look at your situation, I said, is this little sweetheart your only child? Do you really consider yourself fecund? Well maybe I should have said “fertile” instead of “fecund” though really either word in retrospect is look-away awkward and what the hell was I thinking. You may have guessed that there is no politically correct way to pronounce “fecund”, it just tumbles out sounding like a dirty Irish word. She clamped her hands over her daughter’s ears and gave me one of those familiar are you crazy looks. I stuttered, realising the word was unknown to her but the pronunciation was disturbing so I said, what I mean is, if you were more fruitful and had more children you might stop complaining about other people’s kiddies. Her eyes went poppy-like and I couldn’t believe what I just said and her husband looked like he was going to take a swing at me but instead they just marched out and I figure they might say bad things about the store to their friends.

The ambient weirdness of the neighbourhood has been rising recently. Yesterday a very elderly man leaning on a pencil thin cane stood outside the store and stared at me for so long that I started to get very creeped out so I went out and asked him if he was OK and he started screaming at me for not carrying German books. Damn, I thought, another case of Organic Crazy Person Syndrome. So I asked, trying to calm him, are you German? No, he screamed, but the buggers are everywhere. OK, I thought, he might be ancient but he’s clearly dangerous so I started to close the door and he darted out and stopped the door with his foot. This was distressing to me in an Edgar Allen Poe kind of way but fortunately Nestor was visiting and was in the back of the store so I called out, we got a live one here, I need help, but he took one look and fled out the back. He’ll pay for that.

Some people ask me if my stories are true. They are. It’s true that I may be encouraging things a little by my store display. I can’t help it. Current titles include “How To Embalm Your Mother-in-Law”, “The Case For Flogging”, “Eros On Crutches”, and “Improper Advances, Heterosexual Conflict in Ontario, 1880-1929”. These titles are not available at that other book store, you know, the one with the name that rhymes with Rapters (don’t bring your pets) or Captors (don’t bring your kids).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pierre forgets his wedding anniversary...AGAIN

Some relationships begin like a knife fight, crouching and circling with your blade, seeking your partner’s weaknesses and protecting your own while an undeclared truce slowly develops and you begin to accept each other’s bad habits and weirdness. And so it was that at breakfast yesterday morning I noticed my wife smiling and knew immediately that I was in a lot of trouble. She never, ever smiles at breakfast so it rang every alarm bell I had and I immediately took an inventory of everything I’d done recently that she might interpret as inappropriate or “really not funny at all”. Before I could blurt out a blanket apology with the caveat that the thing with the lawnmower was not my fault, she tells me that it was our wedding anniversary and that she’d decided to remind me early in the day instead of waiting until after supper like she did last year....leaving me no time to buy flowers. But still, she could have reminded me the day before. So I was in a hell of a mood later that day in the store when Ivan, a local author, overpass engineer & bon-vivant, dropped by to chat about writing. It’s all about beginnings, he said, a book has to grab you on the very first page. I agreed and showed him the first page of my new novel which begins like this:

“As I ran from the poorly attired serial murderer, I thought of my recently rediscovered abused childhood, and about my brother Darren who was abducted by vampire aliens from the future, and my sister who escaped a Buddhist yoga cult only to overdose in a shipping container in the North Atlantic, and my cousin Moira who disappeared in Tuscany while looking for love and trying to stop the imminent nuclear holocaust to be triggered by a global terrorist conspiracy aided by the US government to find the Holy Grail before global warming destroyed us all.”

So, I asked him, what do you think? Now, Ivan is still somewhat Russian so he never answers right away. First he had to make the long-suffering guru face and then make that odd noise a parrot makes when you pull its tail feathers. Finally he said, maybe you should add a Scottish warrior. Women like that. You know, kilts and swords.

I don’t know, I said, I want to keep it believable.

That’s when a customer who looked like the giant Indian in the novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” walked in and Ivan began doing weird things with his eyebrows and jerking his head in the guy’s direction and I’m saying calm down for Christ’s sake I see him. The giant asks me for the bible in Spanish and I tell him that I don’t even have the bible in English. What are you, he asks, a pagan? Now I enjoy talking to people about religion and politics, and commenting on their parenting skills, but I didn’t think this would end well so I answered that, no, I’m not a pagan, but Ivan here probably is. And I was right, it didn’t end well.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day Four: We do the tourist thing

We’re in a cab racing down 5th avenue, after paying $40 for admission to the Metropolitan museum but the nice people at the counter didn’t tell us that the museum was closing in 30 minutes, so anyway we’re in the cab and Donna shouts, look there’s ted dancing in the street, and I thought, who the hell is ted and who gives a damn if he’s dancing in the street, and the cab driver says, that was him alright. I liked him in Cheers. Oh, that Ted Danson.

So we finally weaken and take the gorky bus tour to see neighborhoods we don’t normally visit and maybe go for a walk there later. The tour guide keeps saying things like “there’s Macy’s department store, yeah, heh heh heh, and “that’s where Madonna sang Happy Birthday Mr. President, yeah, heh heh heh”. But I really started questioning her training when she says that we can’t get lost in NYC because the streets are numbered, and they’re alphanumerically ordered. This tidbit excited a torrent of Spanish in the back row where a painfully touristic extended family is looking mostly grim, for some reason a lot of touristy families look like they’ve been fighting in the hotel room and are in a reluctant truce on the street. Then, the tour guide says, “if you take a look to my right, you’ll see a building built by the architect Arthur Deco who was very popular in the 30s.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day Three: Taking a Walk

Our daughter called us from Montreal this morning and asked me why I left my wallet on the desk in our living room, don’t I need it in NYC she asked. I assured her that experienced travelers always always left their wallets at home as a precaution against theft and it’s a great way to save money while travelling.

Later that day, I didn’t suspect a thing when Donna said she had tickets to a great Broadway show, but that it was a surprise. It was starting to occur to me that surprises are almost always nasty, when we turn the corner of Broadway and 42nd street and there’s a marquee screaming Mary Poppins. I said forget it, watching this would deplete whatever meager supplies of testosterone I have left but one look at her face and I marched in with all the other guys with pasted-on desperate smiles on their faces. It was even worse than the bloody movie. Anyway, afterwards we stood in Times Square with 3 million other tourists and, well we stood there. There’s really nothing to do in that damn square, though Donna liked the naked cowboy playing the guitar except that he wasn’t really naked because he had on a g-string and a rolled up sock. So we went in search of sushi and the first place we found had an Aztec behind the sushi bar and the place smelled like my Uncle Sebastian’s basement toilet after he forgot about his poor cat that time. So we skedaddled and started walking behind a lady in unfortunately tight black slacks walking with her pierced daughter, oh, and a threaded needle stuck to her butt. Now it’s a little distracting to see a jiggling bum needle just a couple feet away so I took out my camera and took a picture. Some of you may know that a man shouldn’t do this when walking with his wife so this little walk swiftly went all to hell .

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day One Redux: First night interruptus

On this trip, we decided that we couldn’t afford the Marriott where we’ve stayed during previous visits so we booked a room at a charming art deco hotel off Times Square. The charm began to wear off as we made our way down the hall to our room and neither of us could identify the odor emanating from the carpet though I had a vivid vision of the crawl space beneath an abattoir. Hopes that our room would prove better were dashed when we couldn’t identify the stains on the walls and there didn’t at first glance appear to be any windows. It went downhill from there and Donna went dangerously quiet. It didn’t help matters that I noticed my wallet was missing and all that jostling in Times Square might not have been entirely innocent. I was trying to explain to Donna that I didn’t really need credit cards and ID when she interrupted to tell me that the bathroom looked like a little torture chamber. Now we have the kind of relationship that if one complains about something, the other automatically says “it’s not so bad”. That kind of pre-programmed banter either eventually drives you crazy, or, well, there is no ‘or’. It’s one of the reasons why people who’ve been married a long time are always a little crazy. So I said, “It’s not so bad, it’s really pretty standard for NYC” but Donna didn’t answer and I knew there was little use to unpack the bags.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day One in NYC: Why I Hate Trains

The train ride to New York began badly when we misread the departure time and got to the train station 2 hours earlier than necessary. No matter, the porter was a capitalist and accepted a very generous tip to place us on the train before everybody else which turned out to be a little creepy, sitting in a dark train alone for 2 hours. It was a crowded ride but everyone behaved except the unidentified person with digestive problems. We were just past Albany when 6:00 pm rolled up and as everyone knows, the end of the world was expected. I looked around but nobody seemed concerned so I started shouting “OMG,OMG, I feel it happening, I’m rapturing and all you people are now officially LEFT BEHIND. But it hurts, why does it hurt so bad? OMG, He’s leaving parts of me behind! The parts that sinned! Parts that I’m fond of!” Well, Donna wasn’t amused, and since most of the train couldn’t speak a word of English or French, they thought I was having some kind of fit and starting offering me weird food. Because of delays, it was a 13-hour ride and this ain’t Euro-standard train travel, this is Amtrak medieval class. There appears to be a direct relation between the degree of rocking and the cleanliness of the toilet, and we rocked like a ship in a storm.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maybe It's the Weather

It must be the crazy season, too much rain and recession. People come into the store and call out a single word, words like trains or hockey. What’s that about? I’ve never gone to the grocery store and stood in the isle shouting bananas or eggs. Well, I answer them with a monosyllabic ‘no’ and they usually slump in relief and walk right out because they’d only spoken in panic upon discovering that they’d stumbled into a bookstore. But some reply with withering things like are you telling me you have nothing on trains? That kind of pressure makes me a little crazy so I make things up like: Oh, I had a huge collection of that stuff, hard to find stuff, vintage stuff, a lot of leather bindings, but I sold the whole lot to some fellow last week for $20, just to get rid of it. You know.

One of our cultural oddities is that people think a used bookstore is an open marketplace for the free exchange of ideas. The oddity is that these same people have very strong and strange views on things that you must agree with. But nothing prepared me for the bear wrestler. He came in with his Fu-Manchu mustache and his main squeeze and asked me if I had any books by some guy with no vowels in his name. You know, he says, it’s about the 15,000 year old manuscripts they recently found in Mesopotamia with secrets that THEY don’t want us to know about. Now, booksellers have an instinct about these things and the word ‘THEY’ usually has us reaching for the panic button or the shot-gun under the counter, but it was 3:00 pm and the vodka was kicking in so I said that kind of crap is down there with Von Daniken and the space aliens. Fu-Manchu man gave me a hard look and gave me his card. He said: go to this web site. We’ll talk again and walked out of the store. I snorted at him after he was safely out of the store, but, OK, OK, I went to the web site. But so would you! The site showed a video of Fu-Manchu man wrestling a bear in a boxing ring, and the bear trainer shouting ‘be good Poo bear, roll, roll’ and Fu-Manchu man looked very grim rolling with the bear so I hope he doesn’t come back to the store any time soon.

Then this very elderly lady comes in and tells me she’s moving into the neighborhood here soon because the Africans in her apartment are trying to seduce her into their harem and she’s tired of the harassment. I laugh nervously and she leaves grumbling I’m too old for this shit. I find myself hoping she doesn’t move too close.

So these bachelor weekends don’t work for everybody. Nestor’s brother recently revealed that his wife was in Europe for a week and he was going to live like a 20-year old while she’s gone. I said, is that a good idea at your age, you’re what, 48? 49? He said yeah, yeah, whatever, you got any more of that Newfie rum? So we drank Screech for a few hours, and how was I supposed to know that he’s already drunk a bottle of cheap red wine and eaten a large all-dress pizza with extra bacon and had spent the afternoon watching Borat. But these things have a way of coming out, and in this case, coming out everywhere so I hustled him out of the store while he screamed in a previously undiscovered language and called him a cab but after what happened outside I realized I should have called an ambulance and I hope I don’t get sued because that was not my fault.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pierre gives yet more advice...

Nestor came into the store this morning and asked me to go the local post office and buy him some stamps. Now I get a lot of non-book requests, like, do you have a bathroom, can I have a Kleenex, where is the locksmith, is there a God? But this seemed a bit over the top so I said, Nestor, WTF. He said do this for me and I’ll stop stealing your books. I knew Nestor was stealing but since he has peculiar tastes and actually buys the occasional book, I never paid it any mind. But still. So I asked him, why not buy your own stamps and he said that Johnny, the Postal clerk, was mad at him. What the hell did you do to Johnny, I asked. Nestor looked at the floor and said, I stared at his teeth.

This was getting a little weird, even for my store. What, I said, do you mean you stared at his teeth. Nestor shuffled a bit and said, I was buying stamps and I must have been daydreaming at the counter because suddenly I woke up and realized that I’d been staring at his teeth. Really staring. Well, I said, that’s not so bad. But, Nestor continued, I think maybe he has very bad teeth. Nestor never says ‘I think maybe’ unless he’s sure of the thing. Nestor continued, then I got nervous and smiled and that’s when he started to look really pissed off. I tried to look innocent, but it only seemed to make things worse.

Wait a minute, I interrupted, show me your innocent face. Nestor pinched his lips together into a sphincter the size of a dime and opened his eyes so wide I thought they’d pop out of his head. Holy moly, I shouted, you looked at him like that?! My advice to you, Nestor, is avoid the Post Office for at least a week. Nestor didn’t look convinced but who cares. It’s not like they can withdraw my ‘Excellence In Customer Service Award’ again for giving bad advice.

The cartoon is from xkcd.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pierre Meets a Psychiatrist

When I discovered that one of my customers is a psychiatrist I told him that I was a defrocked priest but that he mustn’t tell anyone. I’m still not quite sure why I told him this, I suspect it was because I’ve always liked the sound of the word ‘defrocked’ but who cares, it churned the conversation up a bit and he soon wanted to know why I’d been defrocked. I said it was complicated and since I didn’t suffer the curse of complexity I was very confused. He didn’t buy it and said so by glaring at me. Well, I wasn’t intimidated in the least because his wife was in the other day complaining about him and when a man’s wife tells you things about him, he loses all power over you. Especially when she tells you that her husband is afraid of sunlight. I just couldn’t resist so I asked her, you think he’s a vampire? and she said don’t be stupid, he just thinks that every cell in his body is a suntan away from erupting into a spongy tumor.

So I just glared back at him and said that defrocking was a very private thing and I can’t even spell embezzlement so why would I do it and anyway I needed the money for my gambling habit. And speaking of gambling, I said, just to change the subject a bit while I rang up his purchase, don’t you think, I said, that we should prepare children for the unpredictability of life by teaching them to play poker, starting maybe in grade school. Poker would teach the little creatures about the nature of risk and how the house always wins in the end. It would be more instructive than the statistics and ethics courses they’ll eventually cheat their way through. The good doctor counted his change, with more care then necessary I thought, and as he left asked me if I was off my medication. Some people.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Newfie comes into the store...

This big fella and his tiny wife comes in the store today talking in that distinctive Newfie accent and he asks if I have any books on whales and I reply ‘no but when are you folks going to stop killing those baby seals then?’ (I don’t really care about the seals but I figured the question would break the ice). He says ‘they’re not babies, we don’t kill babies. They’re cubs. We club cubs.’ Ah, I said, and it’s euphonic too.

He ignores this and asks me if I have any prints of whales. I do, I say. But are they old prints he asks. Oh yes, I say with my best newfie accent, I have verra olde prints. Abbut 1750 they is, I say. He looks at me funny and says that’s all very good, but are they Newfoundlander whales? Well how the hell would I know what nationality the whales are, so I say they’re Pacific whales and he says well NFLD is in the Atlantic don’t you know and I answer, is it now?

His wife starts making him big-eyes, you know, wife code for enough already so I try and smooth things over and I ask him, ‘so how’s the economy on the Rock then?’ Maybe that wasn’t the best tact because he answers that unemployment’s at 19% and the tuberculosis is killing those too weakened by eating Raman noodles 3 times a day to look for fish that ain’t there no more no how.

Ha, I say, you think you have it bad, just look at that roundish building out there (I point to the curling club), that’s a soup kitchen, I say a little untruthfully, we’re suffering here too but we don’t complain about it all the time. They look over to the curling club and he whispers a soup kitchen can you believe it and I say yeah and it’s not even real soup it’s just tap water with food coloring added so don’t talk to me about suffering. They glanced sadly at the curling club as they left and I thought, I won that one not that I care about winning of course.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book Store Myths

I’m talking here about myths, not delusions. Delusions are often funny unless the person holding them is also holding a machete. Myths are not funny, they’re too much like Beliefs, and Beliefs are like Principals and you know what people are like with their damned principals. So let’s go there.

Myth number 1 is that kids today don’t read. This is usually said very loudly to no-one in particular by people who are bitter about the biochemistry of aging. Oddly, they rarely buy a book. They know kids today spend hours in front of a computer monitor and wonder why they don’t instead spend hours in front of the TV watching Gilligan’s Island and The Beverly Hillbillies like we did. But it’s not true; kids buy a lot of books. I try to slow them down a bit but kids today just don’t listen.

Myth number 2 is that eBooks will supplant printed books. Well, it’s not a zero-sum game. EBooks will replace a small part of the paper book market, but if radio can co-exist with TV, and pencils with keyboards, then we don’t need to worry about the future of paper. (This myth was sponsored by The Pulp and Paper Institute of Canada)

Myth number 3 is that used books are cheaper if purchased on line.
Well if you include shipping costs, they rarely are. Also, you might be interested to know that used books purchased on line are packaged by underpaid Albigensian monks that because of their vows of silence can’t complain about their terrible working conditions.

Myth number 4 is that to be successful, a used bookstore must both specialize and offer a wide selection of everything.
This is only true if you’re schizophrenic.

Myth number 5 is that books printed in China gives you scurvy.
This one might just be true.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What the hell is that smell?

Let me say from the start that I’m not going to talk here about disgusting smells, funny smells, or inappropriate smells. This blog-post is about those unhealthy smells that bring back fond memories, smells like diesel fuel, bacon fat and pipe smoke. And guilty smells like when your neighbour’s house burns down and you like the smell because it reminds you of a campfire on the beach.

On second thought, it’s not about those smells either. It’s about preventing my bookstore from smelling bad.

An elderly man came in recently with magazines to sell and the moment he opened the box my eyes began to burn and my nostrils clamped shut like a camel in a sandstorm. I said ‘these magazines smell of cigarette smoke, and there’s a yellow film of pure nicotine that sticks to my fingers when I touch them. You could roll these magazines up and smoke them’. He narrowed his eyes and said ‘they didn’t smell when I put them in the box this morning’ and I said ‘how the hell can you tell? You’ve been smoking for what, 60 years?’ He made that angry face I see people make sometimes in other bookstores and I was beginning to think that maybe I went too far when he suddenly whistled with his throat and began hacking that loud barking sound seals make when they’re in distress. Well, I figured that if he can’t talk I can finally get a word in edgewise so I tell him I get many books that smell of mould or cigarette smoke but I throw them out because a bookstore should smell like wood and cognac and not like a rotting corpse. He had yet to take a breath and was turning purple and worse he wasn’t even listening to me so I suggested that he take the magazines elsewhere to sell. He finally took a breath and said ‘I’ll donate them to a Hospital’. I hope he changed his mind, our hospitals have enough already to deal with.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

When you’re in retail you notice certain things, like when people do crazy things it’s because they’re crazy people but when I do crazy things it’s because I’m a victim of circumstance.

Take last Friday for example. The street was closed off and covered in a quarter inch of mud after city workers dug in the wrong place. I figured that it would cost more to clean my carpets than to open the store (that gives you an idea of why used bookstore owners don’t drive Jags) so I locked the door and since it was the holidays and well after noon I broke out the vodka. The first person to breach the rampart was a thirsty friend who vowed through the door that he had only walked on the sidewalks and was mud-free so I let him in and gave him a glass. Minutes later some fellow saw us through the window and tried to get in. He jabbed at the hours sign on the door and mouthed something indignant and I made sorry faces and mouthed something incoherent. Then a teenager tried to get in and I shouted through the door that it was the feast day of Saint Stolichnaya of the Three Olives and why the hell wasn’t he in church. I may have lost a customer there. My friend treasonously muttered ‘but you’re a store’ and I poured him another drink to shut him up but it got me thinking. I had to change tactics. An elderly lady tried the door next and courtesy demanded that I go out and speak with her so I asked her if her boots were clean. She said ‘what? Are you crazy? Let me in.’ Behind her two women appeared and also wanted to get in. It was the first time I had a line-up at the store but I had no time to savor it. ‘Ladies,’ I shouted, ‘I must first see the bottoms of your boots’. They just frowned at me so I said ‘Come on, come on, your bottoms!” Well, that was an unfortunate turn of phrase because they marched off. My former friend asked me if my business model was to alienate people and then buy shares in the competition. I gave up, unlocked the doors and had the best day of the month.