Encounters in a Bookstore #639: Have You Seen a Drunk Lady? by Liz Mathews

On occasion at the bookstore where I work, finding people who have gone missing in the store is a task that gets dispatched through the first floor information desk. For some unexplained reason, I have been posted at said info desk for a great many shifts over the past few months, and have, on occasion, had to make overheard announcements to call awareness to the missing person and the concerned party. Normally both are within the store’s walls when this happens.

A call at 10:30am a few Sundays ago was a little different. I answered, gave our standard store greeting, and waited.

“I’m looking for a friend of mine. Have you seen a drunk lady?”

“Um…not that I noticed, I don’t think,” I responded, somewhat flabbergasted.

“Well, she’s pretty hammered. Blonde, Irish red face.”

“Yeah…no…. Everyone looks all right, here.”

“She told us she wanted to go buy a cookbook, so we figured she’s on her way to your store. She is waaasted,”

“I’ll be on the lookout.”

“Okay. I mean, she doesn’t have her phone on, which is why I’m calling you. She just decided she wanted a cookbook and headed out. We’re on our way.”

Not sure how to respond, I again assured the caller that I’d keep my eyes open for his drunk friend. Business was starting to pick up, and people were knocking things off shelves and misplacing stuff all over everywhere, but that was hardly anything out of the ordinary. No one seemed heavily intoxicated.

“if you find a lady passed out in a corner somewhere, just let her be, okay? I’m on my way in—should be there soon.”

“Sure, I said. We’ll watch for her.”

He hung up, and I dialed a manager to see if she’d found anyone drunk and passed out somewhere.

I did not, however, make an overhead announcement. The manager did a quick walk-through of the store, and reported that no one was noticeably hammered. She also affirmed that had she found someone passed out in any part of the store, we most certainly would not just let the person be. I agreed that that was sort of a silly and potentially dangerous request, on the caller’s part.

In the end, I’m not clear on whether or not the lady bought a cookbook from us, or if her friends came to her rescue, or if she was even in the store in the first place. But I hope that if the drunk lady did end up buying a cookbook with the intent to make something, someone found her in time to supervise her in the kitchen.


Liz Mathews composes ads for many things science fiction and fantasy. Her writing can be found in magazines, catalogs, newspapers, brochures, and books; and on bookmarks, postcards, cable television commercials, and even doorhangers all across the United States and in some parts of Canada. She lives in Brooklyn but considers the cornfields of Iowa home.