Monday, June 23, 2008

STORY TIME - stupid people with bad attitudes

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.


gail said...

Many times desire and willingness outweigh talent. Wish I was close enough to join your illustration group. You could hook me up instead!

Amazing that someone could look down on opportunity.


alvinaling said...

Yes, obviously he did want SOME help, or why was he asking you all the questions initially? I don't think there's any excuse for rudeness when it's obvious someone is trying to be helpful, but I think we need to keep in mind that he's only 19, and he hasn't even started school yet. Let's let him figure out his style without worrying about getting published.

Don Tate II said...

My guess is that he is jealous and intimidated by you. He's unconfident and protecting his ego. His fear of rejection is bigger than his belief in himself. And, uh, he's rude, too.

Anonymous said...

He has started school. He's a sophomore. And when I was 19 I was not a rude little shit. Pardon my language. I was 20 as a senior so you can't always go by age. He doesn't have to worry about me making him worry (not that that would ever be my intention) about getting published because he won't be getting any help from me.

I should add that no one likes him because he's rude about lots of other things and always adding his own opinions when they are not wanted. I hope his stay at B&N doesn't last long or I'll go crazy!

Anonymous said...

Maybe my comment above was a little pissy. I"m in a really bad mood because the clutch on my car broke and I had to push the car down the street and into a parking spot and then take the 20 min hike home with while my foot REALLY hurt. This was after a long day of work and standing on it. I'm very frustrated. A new clutch is going to cost me big time. And my foot is a piece of crap--will be 100% numb for the rest of my life.

Anyway, I would never expect a 19 year old to have his act together and be ready to publish BUT the group I was suggesting he go to can be extremely educational. He would certainly learn a lot more just sitting in and listening than he would in school. At RISD I was very fortunate to have one kids' book class taught by people who knew the business, but that's not common I think.

I've just had a long week of people being rude to me. It is very hard when customers are rude and you can't talk back because "the customer is always right." Sigh. I need a punching bag. The kids' attitude sent me over the edge. Also, he doesn't look 19. He looks 25.


Anna Alter said...


I hear you, a retail job can be the last thing you need when life is already stressful enough. I've had tons of those jobs and was never good at not taking it personally when people were rude and mean. Even if he is insecure thats no excuse for letting it out on you.

I hope your foot is feeling better, that really stinks about your car!


Anonymous said...

But does he read your blog? Anyway, he has to live with that way of looking at life. That's the worst revenge you could wish on him. Or at least it's in the top ten.

Laura said...

19 is surely no excuse! Lucky him that you were willing to help him. I have 4 sons in the teen-twenty something ages, and I am sure they wouldn't talk like that. He is jerk.
When he is older he will be an older jerk. If you he has talent, he will be a talented jerk.
You are generous and
I am so sorry about your foot. And customers are INSANE.

alvinaling said...

Yes, I just know from working in retail that you come across so many crazy people, whether they be coworkers or customers (not knocking retail, that's just how it is), and so I came up with my own way of making it easier to deal with them--rather then get angry and frustrated, I'd try to think, "Maybe they just have a really bad migraine right now" or "Maybe they just lost a loved one" to try to justify meanness and rudeness. Anyway, I wasn't really trying to defend the guy, just wanted to try to make it easier for you to work with him.

Anonymous said...

No, he doesn't read my blog. He doesn't know who I am--at least professional wise. He knows me as a B&N cashier. He's not the type to bother to look me up, I'm positive of that. Even if he did, he wouldn't find this blog.

I didn't know he was 19 when I offered help until he said he was. Still, I had a style when I was 19 and think I submitted my first book at that age (not that it was ready to go or anything). He should be at the point where he's open to learning all about what he wants to do and he's not. That's why he's going to fail.

I can't stand customers. They can be SO rude. I'm just stick of it all.

This day has also sucked. I waited for 2 and a half hours for a tow truck to show up!!! I sat in the car under the stinky, gross underpass. What a waste of a day this was. Now I have to wait for the potential bad news....


Lisa M Griffin said...

Its too bad that he didn't realize the opportunity he had in an established illustrator who was willing (and able) to lend a hand in learning the ropes. I don't understand why he came off so rude either. I have always been extremely open to suggestions and critiques from others in the field - whether you decide to listen or not is up to you - but oftentimes they advice they have given has been useful. All I can say is, you tried AND he will probably be kicking himself years from now over this encounter.

Bonnie Branson said...

The industry is also small so if he does even get published, he is already earning a lovely reputation.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't help much as he was just so rude and odd, but truly I think he may have a mental illness. Nine times out of ten, if I have had a bizarre encounter with someone like this, I later find out that the other person is bipolar or something. Still, it's frustrating and bizarre.

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me as if he woke up on the wrong side of the cage.

Sorry, but I work in an elementary school and I know younger children who understand that rude behavior isn't acceptable.

Your heart to offer help is so generous, but beware of the energy drainers. It takes a lot of energy to do what you do and to sustain a living at it.

Rudeness deserves no elaboration to investigate why- although it's perplexing abruptness does stun us to analyze-it's best to move on I feel.

Your group sounds wonderful, and I hope to be considered for it n the future if I qualify.