Insert Chassis Albuquerque: The Customer

5 December 2016

The Customer

"World of Books, hello…?" a woman's tired voice says.
"Hello? Is that World of Books?" Albuquerque asks; his phone call is embarrassing, torturous ritual.
"That's what I said, World Of Books - what number did you dial?" the woman replies.
Albuquerque does not cut deep with her but making some austere effort at great personal cost to himself, trying to disarm her and sound at least a little gracious he asks: "Nice to talk you, what part of China are you from?" and falls at the first hurdle.
"I'm from Pittsburgh,” the woman says coldly.
"I see... All these cultural differences always become more obvious whenever Pittsburgh's involved...”
“I’ll try not to be offended by that - can I help you, you are looking to purchase a book, which is what we sell, books?” “As a matter of fact, yes, do you have Chassis Albuquerque’s latest?" "Who?" she says.
"Albuquerque, Chassis Albuquerque, the bestselling author of  The Sundial Salesman?" he tells her. The woman doesn't even leave the phone, just says she's never heard of him or The Sundial Salesman.
"Are you sure, Chassis Albuquerque?" Albuquerque insists.
She sighs and says, "No need to italicise it, let me go check - hold the line, asshole…"
The sound of the woman clicking a keyboard, typing him in, some mumbling between two or three other colleagues, some conference being held on this Chassis Albuquerque’s "latest"; Albuquerque can tell she rests the phone against her shoulder as she and it relays this information. This oft repeated, painful rite of his, phoning book stores all over the country and pestering them for copies of The Sundial Salesman’s availability – Googling yourself is a form of self-harm.
"Hello, sir?" the woman says into the phone, "There’s no author by the name of Chassis Albuquerque and there’s no The Sundial Salesman," she says as if she'd consulted every international literary agency worldwide, exhausted every single database available and nowhere was there a writer or book by that name.
"Have you checked stock in-store? On the shelves? You know, physically?" Albuquerque insists.
"We checked the whole foreign author section," she informs him.
"He’s local," Albuquerque tells her.
"Local? Local as in from this planet?" she says, her voice sceptical, doubtful.
"Look, why don’t we plug-in on the same wavelength - you need to look in the international section, he should be on the “best-seller” list?"
There is a small stand-off.
“I need to? I don’t need to anything, we’ve a very good computerised stock system available listing every single book physically present – Chassis Albuquerque’s not one of them!”
“Maybe it’ll help if I tell you what it’s about – should I do that, is that something you want to think about ? Or maybe I should come in and talk to you face-to-face?”
Immediately the woman felt uncomfortable - weren't you?
"I think you'll find you've forgotten who the customer is, the customer is always right, the customer is king," Albuquerque says.
 “I wouldn’t count on it,” the woman said. "Times have changed, the customer's no longer king, the customer's cheap, greedy and stupidly ignorant!
"And that's your motto at World of Books, customers are cheap, greedy and stupidly ignorant?"
"Sure is! And if I’m still alive after this debauched telephone call I plan to buy myself a drink and take a big fat piss over all these books here! I think we can both agree this should be the last comment on the matter?”
Furious, Albuquerque says: “Don’t you know who I am, who you’re goddamn talking to!”
“Yes, I'm pretty sure I know, you’re one of these people who looks at some obstacle or other and says to themselves, `This very small, almost insignificant molehill, how can I turn it into an impossible, impassable mountain to impeded the way for others?' Is that who you are? Holy shit! I’ve just realised, you’re probably not even a real customer, you're Chassis Albuquerque, the writer who doesn’t exist? It is you...!”
Albuquerque’s mouth, a lone operator in this mess, tries to betray him and says, “Well, that’s the problem here, woman are evolving at a pace that’s taken man millions of years – it’s only natural there be setbacks..!”
Albuquerque hangs up, he knew when he was beat - times had indeed changed