The People Ark

One of the nice-but-odd things about running a bookstore is the diversity of those who visit. Saturday, the place was slammed until about 3. As the crowd thinned, I noticed a couple still browsing along the shelves. Every time I’d looked up over the last hour, there they’d been, gliding across history, travel, comparative religions, a small pile of paperbacks growing by their legs.

Ah. Good.

The door opened and a father-son team, heavyset and wearing Walmart shirts, headed for Christian Fiction. I asked did they need help, but their ducked heads, averted eyes, and mumbled responses made clear they were either painfully shy or not expecting people to be nice to them, so I left them alone, too.

Grace, as her name was, began asking about local shops, and it became clear that two new tree-hugging, planet-saving localvores had moved to town. Her partner was from Bulgaria; his name sounds like someone clearing his throat. He laughed at my facial expression and said, “Call me Z. Everyone does.” We chatted, connecting, so I invited them to pick the apples falling off our heirloom tree because we didn’t have time to harvest. Into our back yard they went, tall and liberal, rubbing our dogs’ ears in greeting.

Meanwhile, father and son, short hair in regulation Bible school cuts, had gravitated to horror, where I heard the young’un say, “Shew. You can buy these on Amazon for 99 cents.” They looked up as I approached, wary.

“Need any help?” I tried to make my smile disarming. They shook their heads, but the son held a Left Behind novel. “That’s on clearance,” I said, pointing. “It’s $1 but in the wrong section. Would you like to see where the others are?”

Their flip-flops slapped along behind me to Clearance Christian; they literally squealed with delight when I showed them the (neverending) supply of LaHayes and Jenkins. Inhibitions gone, they launched into a play-by-play about the series, confident I’d not read it. I had, more’s the pity. But they weren’t listening when I tried to say so, and left after purchasing two and offering up repeated exhortations that I “really needed to read these.”

The back door opened and the golden children walked in, bags of apples in each hand. She carefully selected four of the best ones and put them on the counter “for you and your husband. Thanks! We look forward to coming back, and to attending your events. So nice to meet you!” Out they went in their Banana Republic clothing and Teva sandals, her legs and his face unshaven.

Two sets of two. Had Noah loading his ark, they would have been different species on it. And that makes Jack and me happy. All shapes, sizes, beliefs and haircuts  welcome.

Go by, mad world. Or come in here. We’ll give you a cuppa.

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3 Comments

Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

3 responses to “The People Ark

  1. Hilda (Book Medley)

    I really enjoyed the Left Behind Series!

  2. Hope I get to meet the apple pickers!

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