Whenever an opportunity presents itself to help a friend through the work I do, I’m always happy to jump in. Last week I attended a book signing for a new book release that is already receiving high accolades from reviewers and critics across the country. I Can’t Remember the Title but the Cover is Blue: Sketches from the other side of the bookshop counter by Elias Greig is a brilliantly satisfying snapshot from the flip side of customer service.
Elias worked in a local bookstore for five years whilst completing his PhD. During his time at the bookshop he served just about every type of customer. The bookstore is perhaps the perfect place to gather snapshots of human interactions and personality. Unlike other retail shops, a bookstore is a sort of microcosm of our society. So many insights are instantly shared the moment you open your mouth to ask about a specific title or topic.
Over the past several years I’ve read Elias’ Facebook posts detailing his most recent experience from his work shift. Each post written as a sort of catharsis or exorcism. Now, each of those posts are preserved in print. In each description of each customer, Elias encapsulates that character with marksman like precision and in so doing weaves a tapestry of Australian personalities. And guess what, we’re all represented! Over the weekend, I took every opportunity to sequester myself in various corners of my apartment to read this gem of a book. My many laugh out loud moments were often interrupted by moments of pause where I wondered if I had ever done the same – have I ever been that customer.
Many of the entries are beautifully and humourously accompanied by courtroom caricatures that have been ingeniously prepared by illustrator Phillip Marsden. Each drawing cuts right to the heart of Elias’ keen, prosecutorial account.
His foray into the depths of what it means to be not just a customer but a human being presents a wonderful journey and a fantastic lesson for anyone who is a customer and anyone who sits on the service side of the desk.
As Christmas approaches and we scramble to find secret Santa gifts or stocking stuffers, this is the book I’m recommending to anyone and everyone who has ever visited a bookstore, been a customer, worked in service, is looking to understand people, or just searching for a good Claus like gut jiggling laugh!
Available online and in bookshops across the country for between $16-$20: