Ahoy readers! This morning, INTERN was so groggy she reached into the fridge and accidentally poured Hippie Roommate's chicken broth into her coffee instead of soymilk (the Tetra Paks are the same size...) So she is clearly not at blogging level today and is instead turning things over to Fresh and Delightful Guest Poster Megan Burke.
Working is a bookstore is dying a long, slow, painful death. That's how all us weekend girls described it, anyway. At a sleepy chain bookstore in a shopping centre, we spent most of our time reading the books and dancing up and down the aisles to music.
We had our regular customers: the Italian woman with a surname so long and complicated no one could pronounce or spell it - she read romance. And a lot of it – I’m talking over $60 a week. Then there was the old man who read war history, who no one wanted to serve because he talked, and talked, and talked, and talked—talked so much, in fact, that you never got any work done. There were the two teenage girls who read anything young adult. The hippy man that we suspected had a lot of pregnant teenage brides, due to the fact that each time he came, he was dragging along a similarly dirty-feet and smelly pregnant teen girl.
And my personal faves: the couple in backpacks and bum bags who came in every Sunday morning and paid $5 off their lay-bys. We became such good friends that when I left to go inter-state they took me out to breakfast and gave me a present. We've kept in contact, and I've housesat for them heaps of times. I even invited them to my 21st birthday, and they came, bearing champagne and a Hannah Montana card (I love Hannah Montana!).
From my five years there, here are a few more things that stand out:
· The pre-pubescent teenage boy attempting to buy erotic fiction. My manager told him to get his parents to come back and buy it for him.
· The woman who was so friendly and chatty to both my co-worker and I one late night, neither of us noticed when she walked out without paying. I chased her half way across the shopping centre. She came back to pay with me, all bright-red and apologetic.
· All the customers who buy the Karma Sutra and tell us it's for a "friend". Yeah. Right.
· The mother who let her child piss on the floor, and then walked out without telling us. Thanks for that.
· The husband and wife who came in about one minute until close, and stayed twenty-five minutes after closing, looking at baby books. Every minute (as we stood at the front, sighing loudly and tapping our feet) they said, “We should really go, these girls want to go home” and yet for twenty five minutes, they didn’t. And then they didn’t buy anything!
· Recognising authors when they came in (and getting them to sign all their books, and pose for photos), and feeling horribly embarrassed when you didn’t recognise an author (“Do you have my books in stock?” “Ugh, maybe… What are the titles again?!”)
The books. Oh the books! At any one time I had about ten books on order, and another one hundred in the staff section. At one point my boss banned me from buying books, saying he felt I should spent my money on something else.
A nice perk was getting all the free ARC’s (advanced reader copies) and all the damaged books that didn’t go back to the publishers – gimme gimme gimme!
I think the bottom line is working in a bookstore is as awesome and fantastic as it looks. You should be jealous of us bookstore assistants!
After five years of working in a bookstore, Megan went back to school to study writing and editing. Now in her second year, she is looking forward to starting her Creative Writing degree next year. Megan reads and writes mainly Young Adult fiction, and although she misses working in a bookstore, she loves having the time to write during the day. Megan blogs daily at Literary Life and her website is www.meganburke.com.au.