It's been a little lonely in the bookstore these days. Not because of the lack of customers, but because my landlord instituted a "no dog" rule and my store dog is now relegated to doing his reading at home.
I used to joke that more customers knew his name than mine-- which wasn't really much of a joke since it was true. People brought him treats so often that I got jealous and whined a bit. This turned out to be a good thing because pretty soon people were bringing in home grown tomatoes, peppers, corn, and the occasional home baked cookies right along with the dog biscuits.
In the past month, however, I've had to watch the customers stop at the front door waiting for him to bound up and only reluctantly rounding the corner to ask me if he was sick. His absence has been noticed far more than the lack of any "Christian fiction" section.
"He could bring fleas into the building." the landlord said.
"But he's treated religiously and has never had fleas."
"People might be allergic."
"But he has hair, not fur. He's hypoallegenic."
"He could have accidents in the store."
And that's where he got me. Because the truth is that he has had an acccident in the store.
But the bigger truth is that my customers have had more accidents than the dog. That was a fact I didn't want to share with the landlord. I was worried he might ban customers.
And I'm not talking about slip and falls or books falling on heads. I'm talking about people peeing in the store. In the head to head competition of people versus dog, the people are winning three to one.
It's something I wasn't prepared for. Something that wasn't anywhere on my radar when opening. Something I hadn't considered in my business plan. Not that I really had a business plan. If I had, I might be selling something actually popular, like cupcakes, instead of books.
It's been a little surprising to have so many people pee in the store. In all my years (excluding swimming pools, of course, which apparently even Olympians do), I've peed in a public place only once--in first grade, sitting at my desk, too timid or too embarrassed to ask if I could go to the bathroom. And then, all of a sudden, too late. As well as too early to have had the critical thinking skills to realize that peeing on the floor might be a little more embarassing than asking permission.
I learned the pain of public humiliation that year right along with learning how to read. Both of which have served me well.
When I saw the three people peeing in the bookstore, I knew what to do and did what I wish my teacher had done. I watched it happen, ignored it the best I could, and let them leave without the embarrassment of knowing I saw. Partly out of kindness, but also because it's not as if I could have yelled "Bad dog!" and gotten them to stop.
My guess is that there were some health related reasons--colostomy bags overflowing or something. Still, three separate times seems unusual.
I can't help but think I may hold some sort of record for the number of people peeing in a store. My own gold medal so to speak. Although I can't be sure.
Maybe this is just one of those things that they don't warn you about in business school and that shop owners don't talk about. Because up until now, I haven't shared the story with anyone other than my immediate family. It just seemed unlikely to be a hook that would bring people in.
"Hey, let's go to the bookstore that holds the gold medal for....oh....yeah. Well, maybe not. Let's order it from Amazon."
I really don't need any more of that.
I even debated whether to post it here. But this is a circumspect group. And "Peeing In a Bookstore" is hardly a title likely to find its way onto Big Salon, or to go viral, so I feel pretty safe.
I'd just like a little recognition for my medal.