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Yesterday was pretty much awesome. I rocked both of my job interviews (I think) and should be hearing back from them by the end of the week. The one at Sofa Mart was one of the coolest interviews I’ve ever had. I mean, in a building full of comfy furniture, the manager just picked a couple of couches for us to sit on and chatted about where I came from, what my interests are, etc. None of the boring situational questions like “Tell us about a time when you had to do such and such a thing, and how you reacted to it.” Quite honestly, those kind of questions just irritate me as an interviewee, and I don’t feel that they are nearly as effective as getting to really know a person. I digress. My point is that my interviews both went well. I’m hoping that I can secure new employment (or additional employment, because I would like to still be able to at least sub/volunteer at the library still, I love that job) before the end of the month, because it would make the house/apartment hunt a LOT easier. Knowing where I’ll be working lets me narrow my search to a certain area, and knowing how much I’ll be making lets me know how much I can afford to spend on rent each month. Oh yeah, and in addition to those two interviews, I decided to make the most of being a former Resident Assistant at my college and a former resident of a particular apartment complex. I dropped off a copy of my résumé (I love using the accented “e” when I type that word) at my former home, thinking that, if nothing else, my experience living there would give me a slight advantage in their hunt for a new leasing agent.Productivity: awwww yeah. Today’s goals: Get down to Motor City to pick up my parts for my car, pick up some stuff from the library, and submit a story to Strange Horizons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my time at Borders, the good and the bad. One of my coworkers, and the first person I met at the location where I would eventually work, contacted me recently, asking if I would mind providing a personal reference for him. We chatted briefly about the end of things at our store, and he told me that I missed nothing but sadness and boredom. I’ve recently come across some pictures of other stores that were closing, and I found humor, resentment, and sorrow.

Closing Borders displays empty hangers with the sign "Invisibility Cloaks: 50 Percent Off"

Pottermania persisted until the bitter end.

Pictured here: The humor. Some Borders employees decided that, with nothing else to fill the shelves, they would attempt to make their customers laugh one last time. I know that when I went back to my store the last time, I wouldn’t be going in as an employee. I wasn’t going in as a customer either. I went in to say goodbye to friends, and to a place that, despite being sold out of invisibility cloaks, still held some lingering magic.

Borders employees list things they never told you.

And the transition from hilarity to bitterness begins...Sadly, this list is accurate.

Have you ever wondered if the booksellers are judging you for every question you ask them? 98% of the time, we were. The other 2% of the time we were too busy marveling that you were one of the smart ones, and trying to secretly signal our coworkers that we had someone who actually knew what they were doing in a bookstore.

Last, but certainly not least, is this image down here. Faint of heart, turn back now. This is the sorrow.

"I cannot live without books." And now my heart has been mercilessly removed...

I found this via an article critiquing this marvelous photograph. The composition of it is sheer beauty, the content is heartbreak for people like me. As the critic said, there is nothing quite so telling about this photo as the small “World History” sign on the floor below. Say what you want about big chains and corporations ruining bookstores. The loss of so many places so loved by so many is a genuine tragedy.

I’ll do whatever is within my power to maintain the written word. Yes, I said frequently that I was considering buying an eReader device of my own. Dear customers of mine from Borders, I lied to your faces. I was a salesman. I’m sorry, I truly am, but the lie I told you allowed me to survive. I don’t think that they’re all that bad, but I have no desire to replace my collection with an electronic device. Those of you who wanted one, you might have needed some convincing, and I got bonuses to my paycheck at Christmas for every one of the Kobos I sold to you. I thank you sincerely for providing me with the income I needed to get by. Those of you who didn’t want one? I share your feelings. I said a great many things at Borders when I knew that my managers were listening. I’ll keep my books. I’ll take yours too, if you don’t want them. I’ll construct my library from the cast-off fragments of civilization.

The smell of a book

Now you know the science behind it.

I will happily make this smell my cologne of choice for the rest of my life.  I will devote my life, much as I can, to the preservation of the printed page. “A man will give his life to the turning over of a collection of books.” Gene Wolfe wrote that in Shadow of the Torturer, a novel I need to finish at some point in the future. I would love to be a person like that. Wolfe, in the same scene, wrote that “Of the trail of ink, there is no end.” I’m sure that it may seem to some that books are reaching there end, but it is not this day. Nor will it be tomorrow. I’m going to dedicate as much of my time as I can to ensuring the survival of the book.

Opus, you may be a comic strip penguin, but at least your priorities are right.

I’ll keep my “obsolete pile of pressed tree pulp,” thank you.

One Comment

  1. Amen. That’s all I can say to this. I to am a lover of the written word, and nothing makes me happier than a book in my hand and a light to read by. I was sorry that Borders closed, and I loved the pics that you shared of the employees’ feelings. I was never happier than when I worked at the book store and could recommend someone a book they loved, and I tended to remember when I saw a returning customer with a handful more of a series I had suggested. I do own an e-reader, I’ll admit, but my reason behind it bears listening to. I got it as a gift from a father who was constantly exasperated by my backpack full to the brim of books crowded with me into the back seat of the car. I carry it when I travel, for convenience sake, but I also have a hard copy of every book that’s on it. I love the smell of an old book, and weep for a generation that can’t appreciate the fine intricacies of the written word.

    Also glad to hear your job search was so productive and that you are doing well. Hope to talk to you soon!

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