A Trip to The Bookstore
Grandpa: Okay, kids, here we are…The Bookstore.
Watson (a six-year old boy): Yay! We’re at the bookstore! What’s a bookstore, Grandpa?
StefJo (a nine-year old girl): It’s a site where they sell books, BeeSOD.
Grandpa: We don’t call them sites when we are there in person, StefJo…we call them stores. And don’t call your brother names.
StefJo: Yes, Grandpa.
Salesclerk: Hi, can I help you folks find something?
(Watson starts crying and hides behind Grandpa)
StefJo (whispering): Grandpa, why is that man talking to us? We don’t know him.
Grandpa (whispering): It’s okay, StefJo…he works for the store. You just say, “No thank you, we’re just looking.”
StefJo: No thank you, we’re just looking.
Salesclerk: Well, if you folks want anything, just let me know. (leaves)
StefJo: I don’t understand, Grandpa. Why would a stranger talk to us like that?
Grandpa: Well, the store would pay them to do that. That way, he can help us find some books to buy.
StefJo: Why can’t we find them ourselves?
Grandpa: We can…but this is a big place, we might need help.
StefJo: Can’t we just do a search?
Grandpa: There might be a computer around here some place–
Watson: I have a phone!
Grandpa: I know you do, Byte-Byte. That won’t help us here, though. Your phone won’t know which books are where.
StefJo: What do you mean? Don’t they bring us the books?
Grandpa: No, we walk around the store and look. See those signs? They tell us what kind of books are where. We just need to find the Children’s section.
Watson: Carry me!
Grandpa: Hop up here, Sport. I think I see the children’s books over there.
(Grandpa carries Watson over to the children’s books section. StefJo walks up to a shelf of Young Adult books.)
StefJo: Look, Grandpa, they have Nancy Drew! (She touches the picture on the spine of the book. She rubs her fingers up and down the spine.) Grandpa, I can’t get it to open.
Grandpa: You have to take it off the shelf first. Just get one finger on the top, like this, and you can tilt it towards you and pull it off. Okay, there’s a comfortable chair…why don’t you sit there and read? I’m going to help your brother find a book.
StefJo: Sure, Grandpa.
(Grandpa takes Watson to an area with picture books. He pulls out a copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and starts Watson looking at the book)
Grandpa: What is it, Princess?
StefJo: I got the book open, but it isn’t in English. How do I change it?
Grandpa: It’s not? Oh, I see, you have the book upside down.
Grandpa: Were you reading this book before we came here?
StefJo: No, why?
Grandpa: Well, you’re in the middle of the book.
StefJo: I didn’t know how to make it go to the beginning.
Grandpa: You just start over here on this side. Then, as you finish reading a page, you turn to the next one…like this.
StefJo: Thanks, Grandpa. Are these numbers the percentages? This is short!
Grandpa: No, those are page numbers. See? Every time you turn the page, the number gets higher.
StefJo: But I tried and the number was like ten higher!
Grandpa: You must have turned too many pages. You have to be careful just to get one of them.
StefJo: That’s hard!
Grandpa: You’ll get used to it.
StefJo: Oops! The page has a big line on it!
Grandpa: Let me see that…oh, it looks like you tore the page!
StefJo: I’m sorry, Grandpa.
Grandpa: Oh, that’s okay, that happens. We’ll just have to buy this one. We can tape it up when we get home.
StefJo: What’s tape?
Grandpa: I think they sell it here. You use it to stick two pieces of paper together.
StefJo: What’s paper?
Grandpa: That’s what the pages are made of. If we tape it together, it won’t tear any more.
StefJo: Why don’t they just make the whole book out of tape, then?
Grandpa: That’s a good question, Stef. Let’s go see how your brother is doing. Hey, Byte-Byte…where is the book?
Watson: I deleted it.
Grandpa: You deleted…what do you mean?
Watson: I got done, so I threw it away.
Grandpa: Why did you do that? Why didn’t you put it back on the shelf?
Watson: I didn’t like it. It didn’t sing to me like at home.
Grandpa: Where did you throw it away?
Watson (starting to cry again): Over there!
(Grandpa fishes the book out of a garbage can)
Grandpa: Well, we’re lucky they have old-fashioned garbage cans here, too, and not recyclatrons. We’ll just have to buy this one, too.
Watson: I don’t want it! I don’t want it! (crying and screaming)
Grandpa: Watson! Calm down!
StefJo: Couldn’t we just put it back on the shelf? It looks okay.
Grandpa: Yes, you’re right. It’s okay, Sport, it’s okay! You don’t have to have the book.
StefJo: Grandpa, look out! It’s that man again! We’re just looking, we’re just looking!
Salesclerk: Everything okay here, folks?
Grandpa: Yes, yes. I’m afraid there was a little misunderstanding, and my grandson here threw this book in the garbage. I’d be happy to pay for it…
Salesclerk: Don’t worry about it…happens all the time. I’ve seen kids do a lot worse things to books. We’ll just put it back right here, and someone else can buy it.
StefJo (whispering): Are all the books dirty like that?
Grandpa (whispering): It’s not dirty, but you never know what someone else has done with a book you buy.
Grandpa: Unfortunately, we did damage this one…I insist on buying it.
Salesclerk: That’s fine, then. Come right over here to the check-out. That one is one hundred dollars.
Grandpa: That’s more than what we paid for our admission tickets to this place.
StefJo: I’m sorry, Grandpa.
Grandpa: Oh, that’s okay, Princess. It’s fun for Grandpa to buy a book like in the old days.
StefJo: Will you carry it for me? It’s heavy.
Grandpa: Sure, Princess.
StefJO: Where are we going next?
Grandpa: To The Pet Store. I understand they have some real live dogs and cats.
StefJo: You mean alive alive?
Grandpa: I think so.
StefJo: That’s scary! I don’t think Watson would like that.
Grandpa: Yes, you’re a smart girl. I can see how that might scare him. You are much braver, aren’t you?
(StefJo gives a shy smile)
Grandpa: Where would you like to go, Sport?
Watson: I wanna eat.
Grandpa: We can go to The Food Court. They have some amazing things there!
StefJo: Do they have broccoli? I like broccoli.
Grandpa: Wouldn’t you like to try something from when your parents were kids? I’ll bet they’ll have a Happy Meal! Doesn’t that sound good?
StefJo: I guess so. People aren’t going to talk to us there, right?
Grandpa: Well, there is usually somebody behind the counter who takes our orders. But they won’t come to the table.
Watson (looking confused): What’s a table?
Grandpa: I’ll show you when we get there. It’s a place where we all sit down together and talk to each other.
StefJo: The olden days sure were hard, Grandpa.
Grandpa: I guess they were in some ways, Princess. But you know what was always the same?
StefJo: What’s that?
Grandpa: There were always grandpas who loved their grandkids very much.
Watson: I love you, Grandpa!
Grandpa: I love you too, Sport! Let’s go get some fries…and later on, I’ll show you a car!
(The three of them start to leave The Bookstore together, Grandpa holding StefJo’s hand, StefJo holding Watson’s hand. In Grandpa’s other hand is a bag, and in it is a book.)
Grandpa: You kids wait here for a minute…play with your phones.
(Grandpa walks over to the salesclerk who is a dusting off some books)
Grandpa: Sir? Would you mind very much if I gave you this back?
Salesclerk: I’m afraid I can’t give you a refund…you said it was damaged.
Grandpa: I don’t want a refund. You can just put it back on the shelf. I was thinking about it…I don’t think their parents are going to want me to bring it home: they wouldn’t have any place to put it. I think it belongs here, where other kids can see it.
Salesclerk: But what about your granddaughter? Didn’t you buy it for her?
Grandpa: Don’t worry about it…she won’t even miss it.
Salesclerk: As you wish, sir. Thank you for shopping with The Bookstore. We’ll look forward to seeing you again.
Grandpa: Maybe when the kids are older…I think they’ll appreciate the history of it more. Think you’ll still be around in five years?
Salesclerk: Why certainly, sir. We’ve been doing business the same way for over one hundred years. Now that we are entirely government supported, there’s no reason we can’t keep doing it for the next hundred.
Grandpa: See you in five years, then.
(Grandpa walks back towards the kids, but stops a meter away. Neither child looks up. They haven’t noticed him yet. Watson is shaking his phone wildly with his eyes closed, playing some kind of game with tactile feedback or a machine-brain interface. StefJo sits quietly, reading as the pages turn automatically for her. Grandpa remembers back to lying under a blanket reading with a flashlight, or sitting under a tree with a book. He recognizes that look on her face…she’s wherever the book has taken her…Mars, Oz, Fairlyland…or a time long ago when people did things in strange ways. He knows that look, and he smiles. Some things never change.)
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.