The Will To Destroy

Occasionally the books we sell have something wrong with them when they arrive in the boxes.

Well, it’s not our fault. It could be that a certain adhesive used in the binding smells bad and has caused complaints. Or it’s something textual, like the author got burned for plagiarism and doesn’t get to sell that book anymore.

We receive messages from corporate that say something like, “It has been reported that an error in a recent printing of Runny Babbit, when read aloud, summons a cacodaemon from the Void that may devour the reader. Please pull all copies of Runny Babbit from the shelves immediately and destroy them.

Destroy?

Yes. Sometimes I get to destroy some books. For having certain issues they are to be torn apart and discarded, as directed by the publisher. It can feel kind of Fahrenheit 451 though it isn’t.

But we sell more than just books in our store. Yesterday a similar order was directed to us for a set of rubber giraffe toys. My receiving manager, who is very much like me, made a spectacle of their demise. He brandished his box cutter and called across the receiving room so we could watch. He took the first peach, polka-dotted giraffe in his hand and held the blade to its long neck to enact a pagan bloodletting ritual. As he was about to draw the blade across its throat, he gripped the doll’s belly in his other hand. The giraffe squeaked.

He paused.

He then set the knife down and asked if anyone else would like to do it.

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9 thoughts on “The Will To Destroy

  1. Have you ever been tempted to sneak out a book, a la Fahrenheit? Then again, that might be punishable by law.

    Should I ask why you have giraffes in a bookstore?

  2. It wasn’t a book that tempted me, oddly enough. One day this cheap “healing crystal” pack that came with both a guide booklet and 10 crystals hit the chopping block (thanks to a major printing error in the book). We had ten of the packs, and that’s 100 crystals to throw away. But… I had to admit… they were pretty… and maybe my lady might like a couple.
    But like every thing else, I let them go. I still think about them sometimes, those pretty crystals.
    And if you wonder why a bookstore would carry that and giraffes, then the answer is this: diversification, baby, diversification.

  3. All of us have pretty crystals that got away. Your job’s too painful, I think.

    And the most the bookstore nearest to my home has done in terms of diversification: A box of razors by the cashier. I wonder about those, too.

  4. That’s a cruel thing to be asked to do. Were you serious about the Runny Babbit thing? lol.

    Oh, yes, got sidetracked. Just letting you know I’ve chosen Thwok! for a bloggers award cause I think your blog is the bees knees. So, if you want it come on over to my blog and pick it up. Happy blogging!

  5. I worked in a bookstore and was always sadly amazed at the amount of perfectly usable books, toys, etc that we had to “destroy” rather than donate. Such a waste…

  6. The Runny Babbit comment reminded me of an episode of the Earthworm Jim cartoon in which it is revealed that a printer’s error has caused “Ye Mystick Secrete of Ultymate Destruction” has been added to “Fuzzy Wuzzy’s Funny Animals Pop-Up Book” right after the Pudgy-Wudgy Hippo.

  7. Now I have to apologise for getting distracted half way through my post and completely fouling up the sentence structure.

  8. @Kimberly: Yeah, doesn’t that gesture just say to you, “If we can’t sell it, no one can have it?” I have to be fair and say that we’re always looking for people/institutions to unload donations on. Not everything is as appealing as pretty crystals or squeaky giraffes, so willing recipients aren’t always easy to come by. So in the trash they go, and yes, it can feel wasteful all the same.

    @bigjonno: 10 points to you for an Earthworm Jim reference! Sadly I never saw the cartoon (damn cable providers), but I adored the games. They were formative to my sense of humor, if that says anything.

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