Sunday, October 30, 2005

armed with skill and determination, and grace too

I suppose it should come as no surprise that as the sequel to Bad Period Day, I woke up the next morning, sat up, and blew out my knee. You know, with the sitting up. I have a special gift, all right? So after I made a horrible puppy noise of agony and then sat there rocking back and forth with my lips pressed together for a while, I got up and had coffee. spook, a veteran of knee injuries, poked me a bit and prescribed two ibuprofen and an ice pack. I did still have to go to work, though, at the job where I stand up for eight hours a day.

In a small plot twist, I got to spend part of the day offsite at a book table, at a certain literary event which shall remain nameless. I confess that I hate book tables under almost all circumstances, but this was easily the worst one I have ever staffed. I include in that estimation the one which--surprise!--was at a centre for psychiatric patients and featured one guy who spent the whole day in the corner of the room screeching Prince songs with his earphones clapped to his head because some other guy was bugging him. That one also had many sweet people, most of them patients, who wanted to come by and talk about and/or purchase the books.

This one, not so much. At least I got to sit down.

Now, I work for a big chain retailer, and we're unclean in the eyes of the literary public. I get that, I do. But the tables technically opened for business at six o'clock, and the vendor across from us didn't even bother taking the sheet off of his books until eight. And he was from a tiny independent store who no one could possibly hate on the basis of politics or snobbery. He shambled across the floor toward us, easily avoiding the horde of five readers who had come to stand in the middle of the room and drink coffee.
"What time is it?" he asked.
"Earlier than you think," replied my co-worker wearily, searching for a watch. I should mention he'd been there all week. "Okay. Five to seven."
Other Book Retailer looked bemused. "Actually, that's later than I thought it was." I stared at him in a kind of awe.
"Wow." I said, "You're really correcting for disappointment, aren't you?" He gave me a little nod and drifted off again.

I don't want to be misunderstood. I love books. I love reading. I love talking about books with other people who love reading. I loathe literary events. Seriously, the next time you're at a reading, watch all the people in their hipster garb or their slacks-and-jackets, and then watch how they treat the bartender. Watch them leave the plastic cups of their complimentary drinks all over the room as though they have no idea there's a garbage can. Watch how they fawn over the authors without ever making eye contact with the people selling them the books. The level of intellectual disdain displayed by most of the attendees toward the people who staff said events is amazing, especially since they're not necessarily smart.

Case in point: at this particular unnamed event (guys, I just really don't want to get fired or sued, okay?) there was a table set up with a photo of a man and a sheet of signatures. According to one of the people who'd been attending all week, the man is an author, and he's imprisoned because of something he wrote. Oh, and the signatures are a petition to free him. But you'd never know that, because there's nothing at all on the table to indicate what it's about. I guess that they talk about it at the readings, but look, people, it's just not a good idea to sign your name on any page that doesn't say what you're signing. For all you know, you could be signing a petition to have the nice man in the picture burned at the stake. I suppose it's worthless to point out that the people working or volunteering might also want to sign such a petition (the freeing one, not the burning one) if we only knew what it was, because as we saw in figure A. the help aren't actually people.

I'm not bitter about this or anything.

Anyway I got to talk to my co-workers and eat Timbits, and that part was good, and they sent me home early out of pity 'cause my knee was hurting me and I guess I was starting to look kind of dragged out.

The next day I got to reprise my role as Limpy the Pirate Queen, and people laughed at me, as they were meant to. We might as well get a chuckle out of my misfortune, no?

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