Notes From the Bookstore

Wednesday was a slow day at the bookstore. First of all, it rained off and on all day. Secondly, it was a work day for most people, so while there was a small flurry of activity from around 11:45 to 1:00, and a pick-up in browsers after 4:30, for long stretches of time there was no one in the store.

Shortly after 10:00 (we open at 10:30) a nun came to the door. She was an old-fashioned nun, in a black habit that came down to her ankles, her wimple completely covering her hair. I have not seen such a traditional nun in… I don’t know when I last saw someone in this type of habit. Maybe fifteen years ago when I went to an event at Angela Center?  I told her, through the door, that we opened at 10:30, but I was already thinking I could let her in because the cash register was set up. She asked if I knew where there was another public restroom, because the ones on the plaza were locked.

I let her in to use ours.

Without violating the good sister’s privacy, I will say she took a while in the restroom. A while… long enough that I wondered if I should tap on the door ask if she was okay. Long enough that I began to wonder if she were 1) a ghost or 2) a hallucination. (Okay, I didn’t seriously consider either of those two possibilities. Or at least, not too seriously.) Eventually, though, she came out and began to browse the store. She stopped at the counter to say the store was lovely, and to ask if we accepted donations of books. I said we did. She told me that her community was in Calistoga, and they had lots of children’s books because they worked with children. Usually they donated to the Calistoga library. She had come to Sebastopol for a doctor’s appointment. Then she thanked me for my kindness and said she wanted to leave a tip. I told her it wasn’t necessary, but she left five dollars. That is generous.

I said to spouse last night, “In thirty-six years working at the county I never had a nun leave me a tip, and today I did. It’s a career first.”


A boy and his dad came in. The boy was recovering from a dental procedure that involved both numbing and gas. He went right to the book he wanted and sat in one of the chairs with it while his father looked around. He told me about the dentist. He said for a while he saw two of everything. “That went away, though.” He also said after they were done, “Everything looked funny and I said to my dad, ‘how come the car looks funny inside?’ and then later it didn’t look funny anymore.” One of the better descriptions of coming out of anesthesia.


A young woman, maybe thirteen, came in with her mother. She also found a specific book she had been looking for. It’s the second book in a series and she had already read the first. I asked her about them so I could give a good recommendation of it for other customers. She said the author includes her two daughters in the writing process, asking them to check for realism. She acknowledges them in every book.

Her mom bought “The End of the Pursuit of Happiness; a Zen Guide.” The daughter took one look at the title, wrinkled her nose and said, “Well, that’s uplifting.”

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