Tag Archives: work

5 Things I Learned Working at a Bookstore

It’s been one year since I left my position as a customer service representative at a bookstore – a job I had for six years. When I look back at my twenties, over half of it was spent working surrounded by books. That job put me through four years of university and one year of post grad. It gave me the flexibility to take time off to study. It introduced me to people who will be my friends for the rest of my life.  The year I’ve been gone from that job has been hard, since working there became a safety net. I could work other jobs, go hard with school, take trips and always come back to that job. Here are some things I learned:

1)     I LOVE to read – I’ve always been a reader, but I don’t remember what my reading habits were like before I started working at the bookstore. Working there encouraged you to read. Not only could you buy books at a 30% discount, you could also borrow books, read them and return them. I discovered so many authors and series because of these perks. I never would have picked up Game of Thrones, or found Oscar Wao, or started reading the Stephanie Plum series, or black Harlequin romance novels (my weakness) if I wasn’t around books every day. I was forced to know what was new, what was on Oprah the day before, what books I had personally read that I could recommend. I had to be a reader in order to be a good employee. Now I have an overflowing bookshelf. I pass books on to my mother and sister and family members. I remember saying to a customer one Christmas season, “There’s nothing better than giving a book as gift!” and he looked at me like I was crazy.

2)     Books made me smarter – Because I was around books constantly, there were times when I’d find something interesting and flip through the pages. I read non fiction books about black history, education and war, I read biographies about child soldiers and strong women, I read historical fiction that taught me about slavery, African history and Haiti. My world opened up the more I read. I know I am smarter now than I would have been if I didn’t have the access to books I had while working at the bookstore.

3)     Work can bring great people in your life – Some of the greatest friends I’ve made in my twenties have been people I’ve worked with at the bookstore. I’ve travelled with them, had drunken nights with them, inside jokes that only us bookstore people will understand. There was a time when I looked forward to going to work because I loved the people I was working with. That’s something very special that I feel lucky I got to experience.

4)     Starbucks is addicting – I didn’t drink Starbucks before I started working at the bookstore. There was one right inside our store, so I started visiting there trying out new things. With the suggestion of some coworkers, I tried a frappuccino one afternoon. It changed my life. I would literally buy one every time I worked. I remember specifically I was there during Christmas time, it was snowing hard outside and I went to Starbucks to get a frap. That was when I knew I had a problem.

5)     Bookstores are important – I watched book sales decline at my store. In my last year I was expected to know about toys, gift products like scarves, nail polish and blankets, and features of an e-reader. I resisted all of it. I knew about books and I wanted to sell books. I still visit my old store and buy books from there when I can because books are important. I loved seeing kids and their parents cuddle up in a corner of the kids section and read a book (as long as they cleaned up after themselves). Or seeing the same women come in every month for their Harlequins. Or taking part in the midnight releases of Harry Potter or Breaking Dawn. There was a sense of community in our store. I’d be out at the grocery store or the mall and people would recognize me from the bookstore. There were regular creepy customers. There were fights and drama that kept us gossiping. That place really did become home.

I’ve visited my store a few times this year and every time I go back I miss it a little. Some of my friends are still there. The store is still the same. I still have the urge to tidy the shelves when I walk by. I was there maybe three years too long, but I look back on my time there with fondness. I learned a lot.

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Change… Finally

I’ve always had a love hate relationship to change. No matter whether the change is good or bad, it terrifies me. I remember being a kid, scared before I started middle school and high school, frightened before going to university, I was even scared to go to Punta Cana this summer. I don’t like not knowing what to expect in a situation. The unknown is something I tend to stay away from, preferring to stay in a comfortable place.

And for the past two years, I’ve been real comfortable. Since I graduated university in 2009, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this life. I’ve applied to countless jobs, bombed more job interviews than I can count, worked my crappy part-time job in the mornings and wrote fiction for the rest of the day. It was painful, miserable, boring and lonely, but it was what I knew and it was safe. I was free to go on a few trips, and hit the gym every morning causing me to now be in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. But I couldn’t keep living that life any more. So I’m making a change.

I’m going back to school.

It’s something I vowed I’d never do, because I’ve always hated school, but I’m desperate for a change. I need to learn more skills to get me the kind of job that will get me out of this city and to New York City. I’m so afraid about this change, I’m having nightmares. It will be an adjustment to be back in a classroom, having homework and essays to write. No more goofing around, having naps in the middle of the day. It’s time to focus, make some real moves and do some real work so I can have the future I want. It’s time to do something with my life.

The posts on the blog may slow down, but definitely won’t stop completely. 2012 is the year of change. I just hope it s a change for the better.

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Stressful Holidays

I used to be that girl who’d try to write a blog post every week, but for the whole month of November there is one post. I used to write about how my fiction was going and what books I liked or weird thoughts I had about stupid stuff.

These past few weeks, I’ve got nothing.

It’s the holidays, formally known as Christmas time, and like every year, I’m busy. Working retail, Christmas is the best time to make some major cash, cause the stores are so busy. I’ve picked up another job for Christmas, so now I’m hustling from job to job, with barely any time to eat or sleep, let alone write.

It’s kind of miserable. I hate this time of year, I have for the past ten years since my Grandma passed away. I should probably get over it, but she loved this time of year and always made it really special. It’s not the same without her. It’s also hard because I just want to relax, since I’m going back to school in January and my life will get even more hectic.

It it too much to ask to just chill at home and watch A Different World reruns?

But I’m not complaining. My life has been stalled for the past two years nad going back to school will be a nice change. I’ll still blog, hopefully still write my fiction and read cool books.

I’ll probably be back near the end of the month, talking about my favorite books, TV and music from the past year.

Until then, I’m just going to focus on getting through each day.

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