"Bookstore Famous" / by D.M. Jerman

A friday. Finally friends drop by. Book buying is tough but will get easier and I still get a bunch of great stuff and hope the boss is happy. The final stretch- 30 minutes, and a few customers hang around to kill time before a show at the theatre up the street. The day after I am interviewed by some adorable Mexican kids on school assignment about the neighborhood and whether or not I am safe in it, and I say yes I feel safe. Then a 'hood rat named Alfonso wanders in and tries to stick around and make friends. I drag him out of the store by going for a smoke. He finally drifts off when I’m not talkative. A filthy shirt and 2 hospital bracelets astride many bad tattoos don’t inspire much confidence in the guy. Monday- beautiful as a graveyard near a busy highway. As soft. As loud. I get in after limping my bike to the shop after a flat and shelve and shelve. Get hungry but don’t order food. At least not right away. Make a few sales before the window-wash guy trundles in asking for bucket water. I keep telling him to come back and wash on a day when the boss is here. I know why he does, and that's his thing, but part of me thinks it extraneous and I don’t want to have to pay him.

A friday. Finally friends drop by. Book buying is tough but will get easier and I still get a bunch of great stuff and hope the boss is happy. The final stretch- 30 minutes, and a few customers hang around to kill time before a show at the theatre up the street.

The day after I am interviewed by some adorable Mexican kids on school assignment about the neighborhood and whether or not I am safe in it, and I say yes I feel safe. Then a 'hood rat named Alfonso wanders in and tries to stick around and make friends. I drag him out of the store by going for a smoke. He finally drifts off when I’m not talkative. A filthy shirt and 2 hospital bracelets astride many bad tattoos don’t inspire much confidence in the guy.

Monday- beautiful as a graveyard near a busy highway. As soft. As loud.

I get in after limping my bike to the shop after a flat and shelve and shelve. Get hungry but don’t order food. At least not right away.

Make a few sales before the window-wash guy trundles in asking for bucket water. I keep telling him to come back and wash on a day when the boss is here. I know why he does, and that's his thing, but part of me thinks it extraneous and I don’t want to have to pay him.

Thursday… A buying day. And comedy night. What’s to be said about it? I stay late. It goes off. We are totally out of toilet paper and soap. The comedy nerds are sweet and gracious and drunk on PBR but they probably don’t wash their hands anyway. It’s slow before that. Before a rainstorm. I buy books from 5 people. I pay one guy 50 but his books are great and nobody seems to want store credit. A wound-up guy reads a bit of our humble sports section. A girl brings lots of Optic Never floppies and I catch up on those. I have a drink at home after I stay up until 2am. The days are sunny but it is hot out, and just because I can’t be at the beach on the dwindling days of summer doesn’t mean I mind being here. Yet books are filthy. The building is old and dusty. I wear comfortable clothes and don’t mind getting dirty in them. I change the chalkboard sign again. Find miscategorized things and little items tucked away in between musty pages. A regular stops in for a 3-hr sit. Great. This place was absolutely built for that. I find myself surprisingly satisfied and in a good mood while I’m in here among all walks who can get excited about something new bound between two covers. Something for someone else, or themselves, or for later. A simple service and old, but still relevant. I alphabetize. Many books by the same author are then alphabetized by title. I lift and twist and shelve and re-shelve. My wrists ache pleasantly along with my legs and back, just a little. When I need a break, I sit and read. This is glorious manual labor that I never have to take home with me. It is ideal work- retail as only I hoped it would or could be. I like it.

Thursday… A buying day. And comedy night.

What’s to be said about it? I stay late. It goes off. We are totally out of toilet paper and soap. The comedy nerds are sweet and gracious and drunk on PBR but they probably don’t wash their hands anyway. It’s slow before that. Before a rainstorm.

I buy books from 5 people. I pay one guy 50 but his books are great and nobody seems to want store credit.

A wound-up guy reads a bit of our humble sports section. A girl brings lots of Optic Never floppies and I catch up on those. I have a drink at home after I stay up until 2am.

The days are sunny but it is hot out, and just because I can’t be at the beach on the dwindling days of summer doesn’t mean I mind being here. Yet books are filthy. The building is old and dusty. I wear comfortable clothes and don’t mind getting dirty in them.

I change the chalkboard sign again. Find miscategorized things and little items tucked away in between musty pages. A regular stops in for a 3-hr sit. Great. This place was absolutely built for that.

I find myself surprisingly satisfied and in a good mood while I’m in here among all walks who can get excited about something new bound between two covers. Something for someone else, or themselves, or for later. A simple service and old, but still relevant.

I alphabetize. Many books by the same author are then alphabetized by title. I lift and twist and shelve and re-shelve. My wrists ache pleasantly along with my legs and back, just a little. When I need a break, I sit and read.

This is glorious manual labor that I never have to take home with me. It is ideal work- retail as only I hoped it would or could be. I like it.

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