Roger didn’t like spending much time out on the floor. That was because there were customers out there and they always had questions for him, most of them inane. Still, he had to make the occasional sweep of the floor to keep his clerks on their toes.
While he was finishing one such sweep, a middle-aged woman caught him as he was on his way back to the employee’s only area. From her dazed look, it was clear that had never so much as set foot in a record store before this moment.
“Do you work here, young man?”
Roger gritted his teeth, but he was used to being patronized.
“Can I help you find anything?”
“A few things, actually.” She brandished a detailed shopping list. “I was wondering if you could look a few artists up.”
“Sure thing.” Roger moved over to a terminal and the woman followed. “What’s the name?”
“It’s Barry Manilow. Let me spell that for you. It’s like ‘manitou,’ only with the ‘tou’ and with a ‘low.’”
“Thank you. Was there anything in particular you were looking for by him?”
”Oh, dear. Does he have a lot?”
The woman sucked her teeth and shook her head.
“I wouldn’t know where to start. Maybe we should come back to that one. What about Neil Diamond? Let me spell that for you.”
Roger, who had already started typing the name, froze. This had to be a put-on.
“Let’s see, it’s ‘Di’ as in Princess Di, ‘am’ as the morning only without the dots, ‘on’ as in the word ‘on’ and ‘d’ as in Di again, only without the ‘i.’”
“I see. And how do you spell ‘Neil’?”
“Oh, my! Let me see.” She held the list very close to her face. “Are you ready?”
“It’s Neil, but not kneel like what you do in church. It’s N-E, but not the word ‘any,’ and I-L, but not the word ‘aisle.’ Got it?”
Roger wondered how long he could keep his sarcasm in check.
“It appears that Mr. Diamond has had quite a career himself.”
“Oh, golly. Maybe I should pick somebody more recent.”
“It’s worth a shot. Who are you shopping for, by the way? That is, if you don’t mind my asking.”
“Oh, not at all! This is for my nephew. He likes music, so I thought I’d get him some.”
“I see.” Roger thought about asking where she got her list, but decided it wasn’t worth knowing. “What have you got?”
“What about Britney Spears? I’ll do both names. It starts out ‘Brick’ as in a brick wall, only without the ‘ck,’ then the postal abbreviation for Tennessee. I would say the symbol for tin on the periodic table of elements, but that’s actually ‘Sn’ for some reason. Anything, that’s followed by ‘hey’ without the ‘h’ – and that’s ‘hey’ as in not what horses eat. Are you ready for the last name?”
“Okay, ‘Spears’ is like ‘speakers,’ only without the ‘ke’ in the middle.”
Roger blinked. It took him a few moments to realize she had finished.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I was expecting you to hold up a picture of a bear with ‘minus B’ written next to it or something.”
“Oh, no. There’s no reason to make things so complicated.”