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6   M i ke Sh a t z k i n

just told you their name and you wrote it down on the slip recording what books they were buying, along with their address, and the store sent a bill.

When people told me their names, I almost never could hear them well enough to get it straight, so I routinely would ask them “please spell it.” That was the simplest way to for me to get it right.

The embarrassing moment came when I asked John Dos Passos to “please spell it.” I became mortifed on the “capital P-a-s…”

Another time a young man came to the register and said the charge was to “Mrs. Robert F. Wagner.” I heard that. “Address?”, I asked. He looked at me like I was from another planet and said, as if I should have known, “Gracie Mansion.”

It is a good thing I found other work in book publishing then be-cause I was really not well equipped to be the best bookstore clerk.

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