During the holidays someone had called to ask if we had The Invention of Hugo Cabret. We did not have it because it was back-ordered. As we talked on the phone, a customer was in the process of returning a copy of Hugo Cabret.
Happiness ensued. Or so we thought. Until we got a very angry phone call December 27th. A message was left for “the owners,” to call back immediately. It seems the copy of Hugo Cabret had inadvertently been inscribed to Matthew. Sadly, the book was unwrapped and opened on Christmas morning by an eager boy named Aaron. It had never occurred to us to check the returned book before we resold it to see if someone had written in it.
Needless to say, the mom was mad. She didn’t understand how that could happen. We explained that it hasn’t; this has never happened before, never once in 15 years. We promised her a new book as soon as it comes in. She wanted to know what we were going to the woman who returned the book (and got a store credit for it). I punted a little because I hadn’t spoken to that customer yet. I thought she was ending the conversation by saying, “I just needed to talk about it.” And then she proceeded to talk about it, all over again.
I was able to look up who returned the book. I called her and explained the situation. She felt horrible about it and came in yesterday to pay for the book. She was absolutely hilarious. She approached the register with her head hung low and said, “I’ve come to atone for returning that book.” And then she laughed and apologized for returning an inscribed book. Her kids were adorable and there was just something relaxed about the way she paid for the book that was a relief. There was no underlying tension or discomfort with the transaction; she knew she had messed up and was taking humorous responsibility for it.
I was reminded again at the many ways customers surprise and delight me. Her little boy came right up the counter and just said,”I’m so tall because I’m almost four.” Well, okay then. It was a great way to end the day.