May 22, 2016

Floaters | Tales from the Bookshop

Tales from the Bookshop is a collection of strange events that happened during my time working in a bookshop which left me wondering if I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

This is a story comes from my wife, it was one of those tales that terrorize every book store employee... 

This happened before I ever met Wolf, I wasn't even there for the event, I just turned up once the storm had settled or somewhat settled.  In spite of that it has been passed down as lore... it has been seared into the minds of every one of the store employees, there is never a time when children used the bookstore bathrooms where you didn't wonder "what will we find this time..."

I volunteered in the bookstore for a few years before I eventually became employed by them when Wolf and I married. The shop was 2 streets from my house and often I'd pop in after school and see if I could help or just for a chat and to avoid doing my homework. One afternoon, all seemed normal, I stopped in to say hi and grab afternoon tea from the chip shop next door. I very quickly realised that it was most certainly NOT a normal afternoon. I was greeted by the store manager, her eyes were wild, she looked like she had just had every difficult customer come in at once with a troupe of flying monkeys to boot. She raced to the front to greet me... "I'm so glad you are here! How long can you stay? Do you think you can watch things for a bit? I need a shower... I really need a shower... please can you stay for a little bit?"

"Sure, but..."

"They filled the toilet... completely filled it... I had to fish everything out and I need a shower"

"Okay, well you go have a shower and I'll find out more later"

"It was everywhere! Thank you! I'm going... I'll be back... I need a shower!"

And with that, she left.

Important to note that her house was visible from the shopping centre where the bookshop was located, she wasn't leaving me there for long, but she CLEARLY needed a shower. 

So at this point I knew that something had happened with the toilet. Someone that wasn't the manager had done it and for some reason the manager had then been left with the clean up.  Should I go look? 

The office area for the store opened directly behind the counter, then there was a solid door to keep the air-conditioning in which in turn opened on to a storage area, extra packing area and a small toilet and sink.  When any customers needed to use the toilet they were lead through the office and through the big door and into the back room. The solid door was then closed to keep the air con in, you can't see what's going on back there and even if you could, the toilet area was not immediately visible without actually going through the door. Who knows what had gone on back there. I was curious. I know she said she had cleaned up, but some things are hard to remove completely... I went to look.





There were a few boxes that had been stashed in the corner that were gone, but that was all that I could see that was missing or changed in any way.

Shortly she returned, she grabbed a cuppa and sat down... "Oh you wouldn't believe what they did!

And so her story started.

Those boxes that had been stashed in the corner... they contained packing beads. Now this was back in the day before potato starch beads that dissolve in water. This was back when it was either those S shaped beads or the ones that looked kind of like nutrigrain, but tasted like the Styrofoam they were made from.  There was 3 or more BIG boxes of these that were kept aside so that when we needed to ship out books we could grab them to use as filler in the boxes.

A mum came in to shop with her kids. One of the boys needed to use the toilet, then as things go with kids, the other said he did too. So the two of them were shown back to the toilet area and directed to where everything was and told to just come back through the big door when they are done.  We were well used to kids not flushing or them leaving a little bit of mess, it didn't really bother anyone.  Eventually the two boys returned through the door and went back to their mum. She finished her shopping, took her kids and left... no one had been back out the back.

Eventually the manager needed to head out the back. She went out and found packing beads on the floor. A bit annoyed that the kids had got into her boxes she started cleaning them up... but it wasn't just a few... it was an entire huge box, possibly more than one, of packing beads and it had been upended INTO the toilet. Not the toilet room, into the actual toilet... and then flushed. So something to note about Styrofoam packing beads, they float. They don't like to flush. So now there were masses of wet, disgusting packing beads across the concrete floor, in the toilet, everywhere! Those things also have amazing static abilities... so the non soggy ones were clinging to everything.

The manager spent her afternoon fishing them out of the toilet into plastic bags, trying to stop the dry beads from clinging to the outside of the bag, then ferrying bag after bag out to the industrial bins behind the centre. She had finally removed the last of them and shifted the boxes so as to never again tempt a small child to do the same and she heard the bell ring to announce a customer had arrived... only to find me.

About our guest blogger:

Mummy McTavish is the Primary Blogger over on samster-dot-com. I and my oldest son are the optimists of the family.  I'm a stay at home mum, who also recently commenced homeschooling our small clan. My primary fuel is coffee and favourite food is chocolate. I have a university degree in Photography which I now use to take cute photos of my kids, primarily on my iPhone.

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