On the drive back down to Ventura today, Sean and I stopped at the best independent bookstore in Santa Barbara. He went straight to the fiction section, and I remained at the front of the store. I was browsing through the blank journals and telling myself not to buy another one when the phone at the front desk rang. It was only several feet away from me. The cashier answered the phone and even though I didn’t catch his exact words, I could tell from his response that he was talking to a customer who had a question. Then I clearly heard him say, “Are you in the store right now?”
To my right, not ten steps down from me, a woman stood in the aisle with a cell phone to her ear. “Yes,” she said. “I’m standing here in the Health section.”
I looked above her head and sure enough, she was standing underneath the sign that read Health.
To my left, the cashier said into the telephone, “Okay, I’ll send someone over there to help you.”
He hung up and said something to a second store employee standing nearby. Moments later, that guy walked past me and headed toward the woman standing in the Health section. I took a good long stare at her, because I had to see exactly what sort of person would make a phone call to the front desk of a bookstore when she was within both walking and shouting distance of said front desk.
“Oh, good,” she said to the employee when he reached her. “I can’t seem to find the bibles.”
“We moved them over here,” he said, leading her to the section of bookshelves right at my back, which was also in the direct line of vision of the cashier who had just answered the phone. “We needed to move them closer to where we could see them.”
“You don’t mean…?” The woman’s voice trailed off.
“Yes,” the store employee said. “People have been taking them.”