In my early twenties I worked full-time in a bookstore whilst studying part-time. Even though I worked EVERY weekend (oh the joys of retail), it was a great year and a bit in my life. For a book addict like me, working in a bookstore was my dream come true. But like every retail job it had its array of lovely, weird and downright funny moments. I had the best customers and the worst customers but the books made it all worthwhile.
Take a walk with me down memory lane as I recount the good, bad and annoying parts of being a bookseller:
The Detective Work: A customer walks in asking about a book but they can’t remember the title or the author. All they can remember is that the cover was red and it started with the word ‘the.’ A game of ‘guess that book’ ensues. There was no better feeling than asking probing questions and finally guessing the title. I lived for those small triumphs!
The Needle in a Haystack: The computer shows there is one copy instore of the book a customer wants. I look in the appropriate section but the book is nowhere to be found. Someone has misplaced it! Try finding a missing book in a store filled with thousands of books while a customer waits impatiently. The best scenario was finding it against all odds. The worst was finding it five minutes after the customer left the store.
Spending Half my Salary on Books: The owners of the bookstore used to pay me weekly in cash. Yes, a small envelope stuffed with cash! Now that I think about it, this was a genius move because all the sudden I would have a handful of money and a whole bookstore at my disposal. I would end up handing a chunk of my salary back to the owners on payday.
Being at Peak Fitness: I spent 95% of the working day on my feet. There was one chair behind the counter that during the week the owners took turns sitting on, so I was always standing. I also spent the day lifting boxes of books, unpacking stock and carrying huge piles of books up and down the back stairs of the shop from our storeroom below. I would have to carry sales items on tables outside the store and get them in at the end of the day. I was the size of a twig during these days but paid for this strenuous work later in life with a very dodgy back.
New Release Week: For a few days each month all the new release books from publishers would arrive in a huge delivery of boxes, full of brand new books. In the later months of the year as Christmas approached, these new release days would bring a steady flow of deliveries. These days were the busiest of the month as we unpacked, processed and labelled all the new books and then tried to find space for them on the shelves. I loved seeing all the new books and got excited when I saw new releases from favourite authors or discovered something new and interesting. I always felt sad a few months later when some of the books that arrived with such promise to the shop, ended up being returned to the publisher due to poor sales and to make room for other new books.
I’ve been a slack reader and blogger of late. That’s why if you’ve visited my blog recently you’ve been greeted by tumble weeds rolling across the screen. But I was still shocked to finally come back here and find that five months had gone by. How did that happen?
I would like to be able to blame life and the fact that I have started two new jobs in this time. But really it all comes down to two things: our brand new big TV and my new smart phone. Suddenly the time I would usually spend reading has been devoted to an addiction to great TV shows. Like watching the entire five seasons of Breaking Bad back to back and rewatching all three seasons of Game of Thrones with my partner so he too can be a GOT devotee. And don’t get me started on the other TV series we have started or our sudden desire to watch as much Saturday Night Live as we can get our hands on …
Then there is my smart phone. I held out for a long time buying a smart phone until I got to the stage where I was too embarrassed to get out my old mobile on the bus. I didn’t understand people’s obsession with their phones and apps. Then we moved house and were looking around for a good Wi-Fi deal. It was cheap to get a new phone bundled into the package. Little did I know that soon my commuting time would be spent on my phone reading funny memes or playing Candy Crush and generally wasting my precious reading time.
Reading used to be THE way I spent my free time. Now I need to put it back on my priority list again. Because not only does reading help me to relax, it also helps spark my own creativity – something that has been severely lacking recently.
You know when there’s something you really need to do but you don’t want to do it? Well, that’s happening to me today. I am trying every trick in the book to procrastinate, including writing this blog post on the art of procrastination. Here’s a list of what I’ve done so far to avoid doing what I need to do:
- Washed my partner’s socks and hung them out to dry
- Emptied three different trash bins
- Walked to the shop to buy a birthday present for my parents’ dog (he’s 10 on Saturday)
- Spent at least an hour preparing to go to gym
- Went to gym – something I haven’t done for a very, very long time
- Came home and called my mum and dad – just to say hi
- Watched Ellen even though it was a repeat
- Ate lunch really slowly
- Read some funny Miley Cyrus memes on Facebook (Is it just me or do you feel sorry for the girl? Haven’t we all had those awkward 20-something moments when we think we are looking/acting really cool only to see photos afterwards and realise we look like an idiot? Poor Miley just happened to have her moment in front of the world.)
- Tried to resist the magnetic pull of Candy Crush but the urge was too strong. Unluckily for me I suck at the game and soon lost all my lives
- Wrote a list of books I want to download on my kindle
- Came onto WordPress to look at what everyone else has been up to
- Wrote this post and then realised that if I actually do what I need to do then I can go and enjoy the rest of my day …
I’ve always thought of myself as being young at heart. In my head I am still 17 years old, but on paper I am in my early 30s. Lately though I’ve been noticing a few signs that in isolation are not so bad, but as a whole seem to indicate that I may be getting old.
You know you’re getting old when:
- You used to love being in the front row at music festivals and now you can’t bear being in crowds
- Nineties fashion comes back into vogue and is considered ‘retro’
- You feel the need to buy copious amounts of sheets and towels – just because …
- Your ideal Friday night involves falling asleep on the couch in front of the TV
- You own multiple pairs of bed socks in multiple colours
- You find yourself buying puzzle books to take away on holiday and getting excited over the prospect of winning a steak knife set
- You have school friends with teenage kids
- Most of your friends are either married, getting married, or going through divorce
- You tut-tut disapprovingly about the length of young girls’ skirts/dresses/shorts
- You forget what you were saying in the middle of a sentence
- Your hearing isn’t what it used to be so you watch movies with the subtitles on
- Wine goes down like water
- You like doing things like “brunch” and “book clubs”
- Young people in public places start to annoy you. Why, back in my day, we had respect for our elders …
- You start dressing like a soccer mum – even though you don’t have kids
- Shopping for a bargain in the supermarket becomes a way of life
- You own a cardigan in every colour of the rainbow
- When you can no longer sleep in and wake when the sun comes up
- Loud noises put your teeth on edge
- Your chiropractor is listed in the favourites section on your phone
Maybe I am getting older in my habits. But the best thing about getting older is no longer caring what anyone thinks of you.