Before I applied to Borders, I mentioned that I was thinking about doing so to a few people. Often, I got a negative reaction: a furrowed brow, a scrunched-up nose or some other facial tick that read total distaste for the retail market. As a result, I was apprehensive about the job when I accepted it.
Turns out I like retail.
I don’t think I could work in a clothes store or a lot of other places. No, I think working at a bookstore is a really good match for me because I get satisfaction out of making other people happy. Don’t think this is some altruistic bent I’ve suddenly developed. No, my joy at their joy is purely a selfish one. I like to feel good about myself, and nothing quite beats the look on someone’s face when you help them find something they’ve been looking for and seemingly can’t get on their own.
A woman came into the store a few days ago and asked if we had Rafi’s “Baby Beluga” on CD. Apparently, her son learned it in school and whenever she tried to sing it with him at home, he would tell her that she was singing it wrong. At a loss for the right way to sing “Baby Beluga,” she came to the bookstore. The computer said we had it in stock — in a colorful but chaotic stretch of territory I like to call the children’s department. Don’t go there if you can avoid it. But I helped her thumb through the kids’ music racks and, almost the end, I finally pulled out the right Rafi record. (I know, I know — can any Rafi record ever be truly right?) Then she asked me if we had a book where the lyrics might be printed. I had no idea where the store might hide such books, but, on a whim, looked in the opposite corner and instantly pulled out the right book.
The lady was really appreciative for my help. And I can’t honestly remember when I ever really helped a stranger that much.
Sure, for every lady like that there’s the developmentally disabled kid who insists that there’s a biography out for Inuyasha and that we should have it in the store, but I feel like I need this kind of job right now. A completely straightforward job where I don’t have to be especially creative or clever or anything. It’s something I haven’t done before and it turns out I can do it okay.