I work at Barnes & Noble as a cashier. A few weeks ago a new cashier started—he promptly walked up to me and said “So I hear you do children’s books.” I nodded. He asked lots of questions. I answered them. I wondered why he was asking so many questions but didn’t bother to ask.
This weekend I heard him mention to another cashier that he was going to art school to illustrate children’s books.
I said “Oh, wow, I didn’t know that’s what you wanted to do!”
He turned to me with an ugly face and said “I didn’t know I was REQUIRED to tell you.”
Shocked and puzzled, I said “Uh, you’re not. Never mind.”
Yes, this was strange. Rude. Whatever label you’d like to put on it. Of course I was stuck working within two feet of this guy ALL DAY. So I attempted again to make conversation. I asked “So, what kind of style do you do?”
He didn’t answer for a while. Then, he did. “I don’t have a style,” he barked. “I’m only 19.”
“Oh, okay,” I responded.
I can’t believe I continued trying to be nice to this guy, but I did. I said “Well I was president of an illustration group. They get together bi-monthly and have editors and art directors come and talk and look at portfolios. When you have a style and get a portfolio together let me know and I'll hook you up. Quite a few members have gotten published that way.”
“NO,” he said. And that’s all he said. Nothing else.
“No? Um… huh?”
The kid walked away so I didn’t prod him further. One of my coworkers was standing next to me the whole time and had witnessed this. I turned to her and said “What was that?”
“I don’t know,” she said.
“Well, I just don’t understand. That was SO rude. Plus, why would he pass on an opportunity like that?”
“He’s stupid,” she said.
Then, the kid walked back to us and said “Oh, so now you’re talking about me? I’m standing right here. That’s rude,” he said.
Hmmm. Rude. I think he had things confused.
“So, what. If I want to illustrate children’s books I have to go through you? Is that how things are? YOU are the last word in children’s books?” he barked.
I was stunned.
My coworker said “No, she was just trying to help!”
I nodded. “I was being nice. New people always need some help.”
“Well, what if I don’t WANT your help,” he said.
Sadly, this fun little interaction was interrupted by a tall, thin woman who stood at the desk. “I’m looking for Meghan McCarthy,” she said. She then proceeded to pull out my book City Hawk out of her bag. I’ve been trying to find you. I’d love it if you’d sign this for me…."
Learn or not learn from this little story as you wish. What I took away from this is that there may be some super talented people out there (and I’m not saying that this kid is one of them) but they are undeserving and they’ll never get anywhere in life because of their bad attitudes.