December 4, 2007

Bookstore Befuddlement

About 10 years ago I worked in a large chain bookstore (where I once actually selected this book as my “employee pick”). I think I was a pretty good bookseller, but there was this one conversation I had with a customer that in retrospect I find amusing. I was standing in the Science and Computers section when he approached, looking for books on a particular topic.

“Excuse me,” he said. “Where can I find books about pediaphiles?”

Hmm, I thought. He’s looking for books about people who are sexually attracted to children. Well that could be in psychology, or true crime maybe. “What kind of book are you looking for?” I asked.

“Just a general book.”

“Well, are you interested in the psychology of pediaphiles? Or case studies?”

With obvious confusion on his face, he said, “I guess I’m trying to find out how they’re made.”

“Well, I think that would be psychology. Let me look in the computer and see what we have,” I replied, catching on that we were somehow miscommunicating something, but unsure what that might be.

“I don’t think it would be psychology,” he said, “I think it would be here in the computer section.”

“Books on pediaphiles?”



“Do you even know what a pediaphile is?” he asked, obviously thinking I’m an idiot.

“Well, I thought so.”

“It stands for Portable Document Format. It’s what you use when you want to e-mail a document and retain the formatting.”

“Oh! PDF file! I thought you were asking for… nevermind. Yes, we have books on PDF files.”

And I haven’t been able to look at a PDF attachment the same way since.

Note: I know, the word is “pedophile.” But the prefix “pedia-” as in “pediatrician” threw me off. I’ve also recently learned that people who edit a lot of wikipedia articles are sometimes called pediaphiles. None of these people should be confused with podophiles, who have foot fetishes.


I’ve more commonly heard frequent Wikipedia editors referred to as “wikipedos.”

Looking for PDF’s for Dummies? He was the idiot!
But what a great story!

When I was a young lawyer, fresh out of law school, I was doing a research project for an older partner. I was in our law library perusing the California code books (couple of hundred) that contain all of the statutes. As I walked along the rows and rows of books, I was reading to myself, reciting the various titles and mentally crossing off those that would not contain the information I needed. E.g., Business Code, Motor Vehicle Code, etc. Mid-way down the stacks I came to Penal Code, and said out loud, “Penal Code, Penis Code, Penis Code…the code for penises. Nah, that’s not it.” Unbeknownest to me, one of the cutest, hottest female summer clerks was standing in the opposite stack, and heard every word. Needless to say, she was the one summer clerk who avoided me the rest of the summer.

I am now going to be o.O about my PDF files - thanks! (what is seen cannot be unseen…)

reminds me of the old joke…

She: So, what do you do?
He: I teach Unix.
She: Oh.
She: What do you teach them?

In the late 70’s, I worked in a record store. A couple popular albums were Pat Benatar’s “In The Heat Of The Night” and Pat Travers “Crash and Burn”.

On a Friday night (cruising time), a guy comes in and asks me for Pat Benatar’s “Scratch and Burn”

I guessed that he wanted “Crash and Burn” but kept my laughing to myself.

In my record store clerk days a nice asian gentleman walks up to me and asks for “Pilavins”. “What type of band are they?”, I sez. “No, no, Pilavins”, he sez. However we were standing in the jazz section and I’m shaking my head “no” while repeating Pilavins to myself. He sez “jazz pianist” and I sez “Ooohh!
Bill Evans!”

Dave you are pure genious…your stories and little observations of reality never cease to amaze me… I loved the post on revamping terrorist logoes graphic design

Haha great story! I can just imagine the look on the guy’s face wondering why in the world you would be looking in the Psychology section. hah!

That’s a great story! It reminds me of one a friend of mine told me:

She went to New York to visit some relatives, and her cousin asked her “Do you have P.S.D.S.?” My friend said, “Do I have… what!?” The cousin repeated very loudly and clearly, “P. S. D. S.!” This went back and forth a couple times until her cousin finally pantomimed by pulling her earlobes while saying it. (Try saying it out loud while pulling your earlobes…)

LOL…I won’t be able to look at a PDF file the same way either…

Wow. That P.S.D.S. thing had me stumped for at least five whole minutes. But when it finally dawned on me, I couldn’t help laughing out loud.

I still don’t get it… What’s a PSDS?

peaced eahs

One time at Band Camp……

Wouldn’t a “pediaphile” be one who loves general education?

One time at Band Camp…..

I had an 8th Spanish teacher who once asked the class if anyone knew what Harry Carey meant. I said that Harry Carey was a baseball announcer well known for his giant spectacles and a speech impediment resulting from a stroke. He looked at me, puzzled, and said… “No… it’s how Japanese people commit suicide.”

The guy clearly didn’t know how to pronounce Japanese words correctly.

HA! Good stuff…of course it reminds me of this…

I went to a French immersion school, one day one of my friends parents showed up to talk with the principal about something the teacher had written on their sons report.

It turns out they were outraged, because their son had received an F on a hand-in and in big red letters was the word: RETARD!!

Unfortunately for the parents they did not realize that the teacher was writing in French not in English.

Come to think of it, the “phile” suffix as a borrow-word is misappropriated by psychologists generally.

Philia, as used in recovered classical Green texts, denotes a mutual liking or attraction by both parties, as well as entailing a generally beneficial outlook by the subject towards the object.

Back in 1983 I was a copy editor at a law firm. The worst/funniest error I came across was on a typed version of a lawyer’s taped transcription. The paralegal typed “coke and spirit orders” for “co-conspirators.”

Working with the public is guesswork at best.

“Do you carry Dedede’s?”
“I’m sorry, sir. I’m not familiar with that product.
“You’ve got a whole wall of them back there!”
*points to the DVD section.*

This, by the way, was not an isolated incident.

Being a law librarian for over 10 years, I’ve had my fair share of funny stories, but my favourite was when I came back from lunch and found the 2 senior librarians doing some research and laughing like school girls. Turns out a (very conservative)lawyer from Japan who was working with the firm and didn’t speak English very well had asked them for some research on ‘porn’ and was just about to present him with the material they had found. I very quickly stopped them and told them that I had already been doing some research for this particular man and he wanted information on the ‘pawn’ industry!

I too was a bookseller for a few years, and had the classic of a gentleman asking for books on local psychopaths.
After explaining where the true crime section was I noticed the expresson on his face and twigged “Oh, Wait. You said cycle paths, didn’t you?

Then there was the Russian who couldn’t find the Tolkein books, because I thought he was saying talking books and kept sending him to the books on tape section.

Oh, wait I have another!

The elderly New York lady asking me the subject matter of a book on child abuse’

Me: “It’s about pedaphelia.”
Elderly New York Lady: “Peter Who?”

I was working in Chicago and talking to one of my coworkers who wanted to show me something he had done on his website. I typed in the URL and got a login page and he told me his username and I typed that in and then he said his password was “Goebbels”.

I thought, “As in the Minister of Nazi Propaganda?” so I asked him to repeat it, and he said “Goebbels” again, and so I sort of freaked out and typed it in, and it said “incorrect password” so I said, “How do you spell it?” and he said “G-O-B-U-L-L-S”..

I really like those jokes about the word’s misunderstanding. Very nice.