So yesterday, I have to be truthful, I wasn't happy with my entry. It felt...embittered. Thats a tone I'm trying to avoid. The lovely things about Borders are the important things. The stuff that aggravates, while sadly it defines our days currently, will pass. Ten years from now the memories of the infinity and diversity of indignities will be like Animorphs, all the rage but now forgotten in the face of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The victories and the laughter and the smiles will live on.
I'm not trying to be obtusely sunny. It's just that in my experience it's true.
I was going to delete yesterdays post and only make it available to people via email, but in consultation with my most enthusiastic supporters i've decided not to. I don't like the tone, but it was real. It was a real reflection of a bad day. It's what happens when an intrinsically optimistic person has their patience and their optimism challenged for a full 10 hour shift at the end of a week of shifts that did the same thing. It's what happens when a store full of good humored, kind and thoughtful (if not always patient) people are treated like livestock.
I singled out a man whose job I hate and made a caricature of him giving an intrinsically one sided view of him. But ... and I have to thank Rob for this, I realize it's not my job to be journalistic about it. I don't have to give the point of view of him as something more than the job eating ogre that he can be. If what I feel when I sit down to write is anger, not just for me, but on behalf of my team, then that is what comes out. That will be the document of the time.
I guess everyone has bad days.
In keeping with the concept of Glastnost here, i have to repair something I said yesterday. I made reference to the infantilization of two of our IPT (inventory processing team, for those not down with borders lingo) by The Viper. I got the two wrong. I had thought it was Zen Master and History Linguist Student, but it was in fact Zen Master and Massively skilled and talented graphic artist and blogstar whose ability to hang signs he brought into question. I think this brings me back to the point that this is a document of my perspective and I do my best to channel what other people give me throughout the day, but occasionally I'm going to misremember.
House clean. New business.
I'm sitting at a local hangout tonight with some friends I haven't seen in too long. I truly am surprised when we get together how much I enjoy being around them. One of them is a former key holder from my days at an express (which I liquidated) and the other has recently gone through a liquidation of a major video rental place where he had worked for 10 years. Inevitably the question arose: so what are you going to do.
I have no idea. Zero. None. I'm certainly not going to sit here and declare working for Borders to be the best career that anyone could have and that without them all hope is lost. It's just I feel uniquely designed to work for them. We were discussing how when you love the core of what you do, perhaps not the nonsense, perhaps not the intensity, and certainly not the strange customer service anomalies that present themselves, but the strip-everything-away-and-leave-the-base-metals raw fundamentality of what you do, then work, even if hard, is not like "work". He loves movies, he loves talking about them and leading new people to new movies. I love books and I am never happier than when standing next to a person with a stack of three titles i've lead them to on a bizzare often times manic treasure hunt based on the tiniest little threads of commonality. Michaelangelo used to say, perhaps apocryphally, he could see the sculptures sitting inside the stone, and he just helped them to get out. If i may compare myself (humbly?) to one of the greatest geniuses humanity has ever know, I see a customer for what they want to be, not what they are. I can tell when a person has that initial conversation with me what they aspire to read, even if they cannot.
How is this skill useful anywhere else? Who else is going to pay me just for being approachable and intelligent? I don't know if it was ever written down as policy, but I think with the shift to make books and Borders Plus cards it was inevitable that we would need to begin hiring people based on their sales skills not their book, music, or coffee knowledge. It was going to be a store of thin white men with slicked back hair, dark tans, and whitened teeth all in red polo shirts "what do i have to do to get you into this plus card today". It was inevitable. The goals once met, would be set higher and progressively higher. Had we not folded, had we remained on our current path i've no doubt in my mind I would have become outmoded. I could already see it begin. I can sell a kobo. I'm good with ereaders. I like them. But the plus card, god i was miserable at that. It was only a matter of time before I would have to start applying spray tan and lose about a baristas (probably natalie, or rose...maybe nick c) worth of weight, or be asked to leave.
So if i'm outmoded at a Borders...Where am i relevant?
I'm encouraging comments on this one, i mean i like them for all my posts, but this one in particular it's important to me be a two way street. I know I'm not the only one with this feeling. This idea that i'm a hard cover in an ereader world cannot be unique to me. So Whose got some ideas on dealing with this? We're 23000 bibliophiles trying to translate our skills into something new. What do you see yourself doing a year from now? Have you abandoned hope of finding a job that lets those qualities shine? Did you not really care about it any way and just think of books like sacks of flour, bed sheets, or widgets? I need your help to process this. And maybe you need mine. If there is one thing Borders has always been great for it's smart people who elevate each other. I see no reason for that to stop, just because the lights are off and the shelves are empty.
If i'm going to be irrelevant soon, I at least want some good company!