Monday, September 19, 2011

Dawn of a Bordersless world

My first night as a bookseller was the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I wasn't really working but my almost manager thought it would be fun for me to be able to join in with the event and meet my soon to be minions in a more casual environment. It was a zoo inside the Peabody Borders and it was wonderful. Nothing is better than kids excited for a new book. The staff was totally into too. I was terrified that I wouldn't fit in because these were good people, I wanted to be a part of what they had going on.

All the 20 somethings went to Denny's after Peter (The Big Boss, even if he thought the title lacked professionalism) deemed the store presentable enough to allow us to leave. I was invited to join said 20 somethings because they'd seen me hanging about all night and assumed I was one of the other booksellers friends. Mike (the almost manager) had, it seemed, neglected to tell the inventory team that the new supervisor was visiting.

So 15 of us show up at Denny's at 3am (which is the only time it's acceptable to be at Denny's) and all these kids where gossiping wildly about one of the only things they all had in common..... the bookstore. I learned the Phil was EVIL, Linda was causing more drama, Clem had said something insane beyond his usual insanity earlier in the day, Nate was loving his new job but the inventory team wished he'd come back and really hoped the new supervisor didn't suck (no pressure, right?) all before any one thought to ask me who I was friends with that caused me to be out with them.

"I'm the new inventory supervisor...." I replied sheepishly.

"ummm....hi. Errrr.... well... It's not that bad. Actually it's great... super great even"
"And Phil's not Evil he's ummmm...... Yeah."
"We do like Nate. He's awesome"

Things got a bit more docile after that while the booksellers interrogated me over bad coffee and worse mozzarella sticks.

So began four years of a love/hate relationship with Borders. Mostly love. Except when I in the Cafe, that was a source of many three martini nights.

Mostly I loved it. I gleefully worked all but two days between Thanksgiving and Christmas my first winter at Borders (one of them was not Thanksgiving). I loved my minions (I don't care when Peter and Heidi say. Minion is not a derogatory term when used in the sentence "my most adored minions, could you please make this pallet disappear today").

I will never have a job ever again where I can walk in at 2 o'clock on a Thursday afternoon and tell my boss "I can't come in tomorrow, I have to go to a book signing in Toronto Friday nigh, but i can be back for my shift at 6 AM on Saturday. Not a problem" and not get fired.

My inventory team ordered D20 pizzas. What, you ask, is a D20 pizza? Let me enlighten you. In order to order a D20 pizza you need to have a list of 20 toppings and a 20 sided die. You then each take a turn rolling the dice and adding the topping that corresponds to the number rolled to the order. Buffalo chicken, anchovies and extra cheese is not a pizza I would advise eating.

The Cafe was the source of my Borders dark days. Won't say much about them except that I got Carrie and Steffles and my regulars were the only reason I didn't quit my job. John (who sometimes brought brother-in-law Bob, Jay, Jason(who was actually a Jay, but I learned his name from his credit card) , Bruce, Silvia and Jane (who sometimes brought Sara) and Carrie (Red head Carrie, not barista Carrie) are the only reason I did not quit during the dark days.

When finally the dark days ended I made all the displays and tables. Despite a some what rocky start that involved a resistance to shelf talkers and a willful refusal to mark the charts (if i saw fit to put them in the upper left hand corner to begin with) I thrived. An awesome mentor turned friend might have had something to do with it, but she also taught me to take credit for my work instead of giving others credit ("when some one higher than you complements your work say "Thank you, I'm Amazing" was one days lesson).

Nikki and I made a killer team of booksellers that really exemplified what Borders was all about both initially (we had some awesome eccentrics at the end) and what the New Borders wanted which involved booksellers who were... a little more aggressive.

Every one of us wanted to make our customers happy though and we loved our jobs.

Today is the first day in forty years without Borders Books and I mourn for the place that was home away from home for four years of my life. I will miss the place where I found wonderful friends, both in the staff and the patrons. I mourn the loss of a place to share stories and music (although the open mic nights turned out more bad than good) and maybe a session or two of  Dungeons and Dragons. I will miss the book clubs, the knitting ladies, even the summer reading moms who 'don't read' so they let me pick out summer reading books for their kids because they set foot in the bookstore once a year. I worry about what Zoey is going to read now that I'm not around to help her mom pick out books for her. I really think she'd dig Eyes Like Stars, it's right up her alley.

I'm grateful, though, to have a place to keep doing what I love. Thanks.

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