Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 15

Good News! while i was on the Beach this little blog of ours shot up past the 10,000 view mark! That is a huge milestone and one to which i want to say: this

Only 26 followers away from 100 too! Go ahead, follow it...you'll like it. Tell you what, the first hit...it's free! you can't beat free can ya?

Calling today a day is like calling the Debt Ceiling deal a "deal". It's just a little short of truth. I only worked for three hours. But in that three hours I felt like I was constantly refilling an all you can eat buffet of i don't give a damn. I was seriously over it.

Apparently during my all inclusive luxury european style (read: 6 week long) cruise and cabana vacation on La Cote d'Azure (read: staying at a friends aunts condo in Ocean City MD for 2 nights, which was John Boener in an elevator good by the way), the Viper kept inquiring about my absence, to which my co-workers and managers would tell him...it's his day off. "I didn't approve any vacation time!" "It's not his vacation" you cotton headed ninny muggins "it's his day off". Please try to keep up, in America in the 21st century many workers tend to get two days off a week. Perhaps not together, but generally 2. Some exceptions apply. You do not have to approve that.

Oh and in point of fact i was scheduled to be on vacation this week, was told he'd need to approve it, which he did, but i declined to take it because a.) i'm already losing all my personal time so b.) i can't really afford to take a week off without pay! Maybe i can borrow my 30 some odd hours of personal time from one of the execs that got the 50,000 bonus? No? Too soon? ahh, i should have just been sick more.


So he wanted my attention because apparently I am integral to the selling of fixtures. As near as i can tell my scathing wit combined with derision for the people who come to laugh at our funeral and rob our graves makes me a fantastic candidate to aggressively sell fixtures. And I thought Borders made bad decisions! Seems as though the viper couldn't get it through his head that i would be back at a pre-ordained time on Tuesday, a time shrouded in Dan Brownian mystery. Illuminated only by an obscure code comprised of ancient glyphs and sigils. An adventure that would lead him round the store to the break room where he would at last come face to face with .... THE SCHEDULE!

When he initially approached me about selling the fixtures it was like a deleted scene from "Death of Salesman".

"So Cory, Are you agressive?" really? I don't know how to answer this, this is work related cory, think about the right answer. Whats the right answer? The right answer is yes, but...thats a lie. I'm not meek, and I'm assertive when I need to be, but I prefer to get things done through a methodology of mutual respect and concern , which has quite frankly bit me in the ass from time to time, but it's who I am. I embrace it, and I have had some measure of success with it. And I think the fact that I have never in my life sold someone something I didn't think they would want like or need, keeps me in a moral and ethical happy place I like to call not burning in hell. So of course when asked by a self styled Gordon Gecko if I'm aggressive, I say "No."

He. Was. Gobsmacked.

What did he think my answer would be? You're in a store full of thoughtful, mostly sensitive, people who are probably a bit introverted. The alchemical beauty of a Book/Music/Cafe superstore, especially one that leans a bit to the weird, is that you have book people who tend to be quiet revolutionaries, people who find meaning in poetry, and who can see almost filmically the motions and colors of dry statistics in social science books. But then you get the music Sellers who are passionate and in your face and look at songs as marching orders, and bands as ethnicities. "Oh, you're a She & Him, fan...i see". Like their music they are loud and their opinions are more like facts you just haven't accepted yet. But they are mad geniuses able to leap into your musical taste and pull out some screaming and unexpected new musical life form you didn't know was just waiting inside of you. Then you have the sociable Coffee folk. The hobbits of Borders. Coffee and the people who sling it, have long been the social lubricant of the Borders cosmos. These folks with their patience, laid back charisma, enthusiastic perfectionism, and ability to sit through even the gnarliest of open mic performances are a sort of unsung hero. And while these are all stereotypes and generalisations if you think through your borders history, you've worked with these people. Part of it is you, maybe not all, but part. Perhaps bits and bobs of each. But you recognize these ingredients. One thing you will not find in any of these characters, is aggressiveness. We do not, as the kids say, want to harsh your buzz. I do not want to approach you about a book I can't say for certain you want any more than I want to approach you to sell you double pane thermal windows. Which is to say, not at all. I don't think that is a trait that is mine alone. In fact, given this companies hiring practices over the years, I'd think it might be a predominant quality.

The answer to the initial question was, that he expected "Yes" to be my answer. And when I was truthful I think he didn't know what do. So used, is he, to living in a world where people say stuff over and over again in an attempt to make it true, like some sort of hermetic ritual, that my little truthsplosion made him shake his head and clear his eyes. He just mumbled some stuff about needing to find someone who was.

I wonder why there have been so many attempts to reinvent the wheel? No I'm not aggressive, and neither are most of my co-workers, so work with the strengths we have. You know how I sell e-readers? By being honest. That means occasionally telling someone they aren't for them. But the people I do sell to leave my presence after having had a master class in what an e-reader is. Not just the device, but the industry, what they should expect for the future, what their options are. I sell a lot of them that way, by being knowledgeable about my product and by being available to the guest, and by having the ability to talk to a wide range of comprehension levels. And also, shock and horror, by being honest. Why isn't that good enough? Why do I have to A. Always B. Be C. Closing? Why isn't a store full of remarkably intelligent people a good enough resource? Why not use the weapons you've got to win the war instead of spending your time trying to turn a shot gun into a flame thrower when it's raining anyhow?

Who sits down, takes a look at this spectacular resource and says "no, there really isn't anything I can do with this."

Who looks at the devotion, the diversity, the flexibility, the creativity, and the enthusiasm and says "Ahhh, but we need you to be this too, because this initiative this week is the most important thing ever, so if you're not a part of the solution..."

Well our leadership over the last few years seemed to. And now, i think, our liquidators don't know any other way.

I look at my staff and see people who can make anything happen. I see people who could have easily created a tidal wave of Borders Plus cards if an ever tightening velvet covered iron fist wasn't forcing them to do it in a way that doesn't come naturally to them. These people have no trouble meeting a challenge, but when you weaken their greatest assets and force them to use muscles they've never exercised what kind of result do you expect?

People come in and say "oh it's e-books." or "oh Amazon is killing you" or "oh, barnes & noble, eh, they really know whats up." To me it doesn't seem the forces shutting us down were external. Borders didn't die, it failed. Failure. A Failure of trust, a failure of belief in it's well worn crew, but most importantly a failure of the imagination, that it could be any other way.

Ahh Borders if you had only asked for help, instead of demanding acronyms. Because you know what? we will go on. Not a one of us is destined for mediocrity. No Person I see every day is the type of person who will just dry out internally like an autumn gourd. None of these people I face the insensitive and demanding crowds of liquidation zombies with are becoming husks of what they once were. Day by day, now that we have our breath back, you start to see this resource at work. You're starting to see the humor and the drive picking up speed again. You see, little by little, these brilliant shining lights pick up the bloody gauntlet thrown down and take it on. When all this is done, when our shelves belong to books a million, or in some persons workshop, When our desks line the basement offices of some non-profit agency fighting the good fight, when even our photocopier paper has moved on to a new life, so will we all. Our imaginations have not failed us, we see whats ahead and ready our strengths for the storm. We are a mighty army standing at the gates of a powerful and indifferent villain, ready to take it on, and win.

I for one can't wait to see what we come up with.


  1. I've been dining at the buffet of I-don't-give-a-damn and sipping the sweet, sweet nectar of back-the-fuck-off for about a month now, and I'm not going back.

  2. Same here. BTW, I'm jealous. I live in Annapolis, MD (which is close to the bay bridge) but I've never been to O.C. *sigh*

    Tonight we were playing some Bollywood music in the store. Some of the customers weren't liking it, but our liquidator was getting into it. At least there's that.