“Pittsburgh Dave” came to mind around noon today. He’s a regular, making about three visits a year whenever he’s in Columbus on business, four hours from home. I think he works for Bayer. He hasn’t been in since the winter; we knew he was due.

So he was already in my head when he walked in out of the pavement-sizzling heat a couple of hours later, dressed for success, as usual.

“Spooky, spooky, spooky,” I greeted him.

“Nice to see you too, George,” Dave replied, affable, but just a bit confused with my words. So I told him about invoking his presence earlier today.

He laughed and went back to talk to Jack-in-the-Back (as we call our Internet manager) and begin his leisurely browsing. Christine and I were smiling, as he usually makes the day with his purchases.

And he did.

After a couple of hours of focused browsing, he brought a stack of 10 books of collectible Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror to the counter and said, “I’d like to do this two ways.”

“We’ll work with you however you want, Dave.”

“I’d like to pay cash for these” – indicating the tall stack, “and pay for this one book with American Express.”

“Amex is the one card we don’t take,” I apologized. “They charge much more per transaction than the others, and it disadvantages small businesses.”

Usually that’s no problem; most customers whip out a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover.

Dave, however, paused a long time, which surprised me, for he usually has lots of cash.

“Well, I guess I won’t be able to take this one,” he sighed.

I looked inside. $800!

Time to think quickly; I didn’t want to lose that big sale.

Picking the book up to tantalize him, I offered a solution.

“How about if I give you an invoice, so that you could take the book with you and just send me a check next week. We don’t usually do that but I know I can trust you – you’re from Pittsburgh!” (He knows Linda and I are from Steeler Country.)

He agreed to this solution with a big smile. “Normally the total wouldn’t be a problem, but my
air-conditioning went out last night, and I had to pay an unexpected and large bill.” We chatted about the box-office business A/C companies are doing right now, and how very lucky he was to get service so quickly.

Enough time and conversation had passed to deflect his embarrassment about being short of cash. I wrote up his bill, tucked it along with a business card in the expensive book and handed it to him as Christine finished bagging the other stack.

Pittsburgh Dave walked out a happy man, both for the collectible books he added to his library, and for knowing that here in Columbus there is a bookstore that would permit him to walk out of the store with an $800 book, being trusted to send an out-of-state check.


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