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... BUT HE'S JEWISH!
A Bookstore-y
by George Cowmeadow Bauman

A heavy, young woman came hesitantly in the front door. I could tell she’d never been here before. She’d probably not spent much time in any bookstore, especially used bookstores. We’re good at spotting the uninitiated, the bookshop virgins.

I welcomed her warmly, and as I do with most folks when they first enter, I gave her some time to adjust and look around before offering assistance. But when she wandered to the center of the store and glanced around, looking confused, I stepped out from the counter and asked if I could help.

“I’m…uh…just…uh…looking…uh…around for…uh…I have a friend…uh…I want to…he’s interested in…I guess he likes…uh…” The woman was unfocused. Wanting her to have a good experience in here, I was patient and let her find her voice. Finally she got out that her friend was interested in music, and religion, and politics.

I showed her each of the sections, ending with Music, when she said that he liked piano-related material. I could tell she was still lost, facing the spines of two full bookcases.

I pulled out a biography of Horowitz that I’d just shelved and showed it to her as a starter, and told her I’d go check on some possibilities in the Religion section. Several interesting gift choices with a variety of prices and focuses jumped into my hands: “Atlas of the Bible”, “The Illustrated Customs and Costumes of the Bible”, “The Illustrated Life of Jesus”, and Norman Rockwell’s “Faith of America”, sure to appeal to Christians on anyone’s gift list.

I took them to her in the next aisle, pleased to be helpful, and sure that at least one would appeal to her. She muttered a quiet thanks and sprawled out on the floor to look them through.

Back behind the counter I watched her unobtrusively while pricing some incoming books, just in case she needed further assistance.

She examined a couple of them and clambered laboriously up from the floor. She walked over to me with the whole stack in her arms. I was psyched, thinking that this bookselling business was so rewarding from both a sense of personal satisfaction and professional profit.

Until she spoke.

“I…uh…these books…thanks…uh…” and she paused even longer before blurting out, “But he’s Jewish!”


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