"I'd like to find this CD", I told the clerk, pointing to the entry on the computer screen.
"It's over there," he said waving vaguely toward the CD racks.
"I looked there, but I couldn't find it. Can you help me?"
"If it's not there, we must be out."
"Can I order it?"
He looked at me with an exasperated sigh. "Fine."
Yes, this is customer service at my neighborhood bookstore. Clerks on the floor are nearly non-existent. Books and music are often randomly shelved. Peak times at the checkout mean only one or two cashiers will be available while the rest vanish somewhere into the hidden reaches of the back room.
Last night's exchange was sadly typical of the level of service I've come to expect at this prominent chain bookstore, where the emphasis seems to be on coffee rather than reading material.
There was one bright spot. The cashier looked at the books I’d selected and told me about another author she thought I’d like. She described the theme and how much she’d enjoyed it.
"Where is it? I asked, thinking I could add it to my pile.
"We don't carry it, she said sadly. "But maybe you could order it online?"
So much for customer service