I have a sign on the door that says, “please come in.”
People walking past read it out loud. Often my door is mistaken for the door of the bakery and they have to back out again, apologetic, disappointed, sometimes annoyed. This week one man shook the rain from his umbrella and then hurled the umbrella at the door as well. His wife was pretty mad and said, what an earth are you doing? He said, the blinking thing let go of me. She turned her back and walked off. He looked in a worried way at the water all over my door.
Children see my sign as a direct invitation addressed to them. They stop and point at it. One man read it and then came in because it was cold. Then he left again. He said, just getting warm, don’t actually read.
People read the sign out loud and then say, yeah as if! Who’d go in there? A bookshop! One man called Harold would not let his wife come in, he said, that’s where you pay new prices for useless old books. His wife, who had been in earlier, looked at him perhaps thinking that he was a useless old book. That she’d paid a new price for.
One lady sang out, pleeease come in. Her friend sang IIIIII don’t thiiink sooooo.
One old man said, thank you for the invitation. He had stood there looking at it on the door for ages. He bought a biography of Ernest Hemingway.
Passers by come fast down the street, especially if it is cold or raining. This is why they come through my door or bang up against it or look through hoping to see cream buns and cups of tea. Then they have to straighten up and keep going, their faces ovals of apology and confusion.