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I work in a small bookstore in the East Village of Manhattan. Because we're kinda hip (and because we're not Barnes and Noble) we get a fairly diverse crowd of celebrities. People who actually want to shop, not be seen.

I think part of the reason those people tend to shop with us is that we leave them alone. We notice their existance, shrug, say "Huh. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Neat." and go about our business. We don't pester them for autographs, we don't talk about their latest project or the status of their relationships and we certainly don't fawn appreciatively at their feet.

Whenever self-important A-list celebrities DO manage to find their way into our store, it's almost a given that they won't be back.

- - -

Meg Ryan was in our store last month. She bossed us around, got in other customers' way and generally made a nuisance of herself. This was all well and good until she cut in front of another customer at the register.

The guy she slid in front of was a big Italian guy. Well dressed, short salt-and-pepper hair, perfectly poised. He looked at her in disbelief and tapped her on the shoulder.

"You think because you're famous you can treat people with this kind of disrespect? Where do you get off thinking you have to right to treat people like that? You think I give a shit about you because you're famous?" He pulls out his wallet and slaps his American Express card down on the counter. "I'm famous too, lady. Now get to the back of the line."

It was Giorgio DeLuca, from Dean & DeLuca.

And she did. She got behind him, paid for her stuff and left. And we didn't have to do a thing.

- - -

But there's this one employee of ours that can't get this through his head.

Willem Dafoe was in the store yesterday. I actually helped one of the people he was with and didn't notice him one bit.

One of our merchandizers saw him, pulled me into a corner so he wouldn't see us talking about him, told me he was there and grinned. I agreed (I mean, Dafoe is awsome) and we went about our business.

But then I hear one of my co-workers go up to him and start talking about his movies. Because his friend was busy buying things from me he couldn't get away even if he wanted to. It was fascinating - Dafoe's entire bearing changed. He went from being a guy buying books to being in the spotlight. He became a consumate professional, a public figure out on the town. He started working, which seems to be the last thing you want to have to do when you're trying to shop.

I preferred him the other way.

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