Saturday, December 29, 2007

how to say I love you in no words at all

"What do you suppose she was trying to say?"
"My guess? 'This way maybe you'll still be able to find one of them come February.'"

Thanks, Jen.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Jingle, the Christmas Shrimp

Steve: "How are you?"

Me: [vague flailing gestures in the direction of piles of books] "You know. But you sound really calm."

Steve: "Yeah. I don't have any control over any of this, so..." [shrugs]

Me: "That's a really useful place to be in. I wish I was there."

Steve: "It's a little weird. Dan's been leaving these notes that say things like 'CHAOS. TOTAL CHAOS.' and then they just trail off. And Tom's left one underneath it that said 'Serenity now.' And I left one that said 'Guys. Chill.'"

[beat. Steve and I look at one another.]

Me: "Do you suppose we've slipped into an alternate universe?"

Steve: "It seems really possible, doesn't it? 'Cause personal growth, not likely, but alternate universe? Sure."

Me: "Ooh! Yeah. Like a world without shrimp."

Steve: "What's wrong with shrimp? I like shrimp."

Me: [shuddering] "They're all--they--nothing should have it's eyes on stalks."


Steve: "I am not going to argue with you about shrimp right before Christmas!"

* * * * *

Me: " I'm like 'Why? Because it's not seasonal? What if the shrimp were wearing little hats?'"

alex: [deadpan] "Nicole, have you forgotten Jingle the Christmas Shrimp?"

Me: "Christmas Shrimp."

alex: "Yes. You know, you leave a little dish of shrimp sauce by the bathtub drain and he visits you."

Me: "Shrimp sauce? That is so wrong."

alex: "Yes. It's sauce for shrimps."

Elizabeth: "There has been a grotesque cultural misunderstanding about the uses of shrimp sauce."

alex: "And that right there is the history of colonization and oppression."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gallows Hill and Andersonville / it could be, it could be worse

My friend Geoffrey is quitting smoking. This is a major achievement, as his nicotine habit is older than some of the people we work with, and I am super-proud of him. One might legitimately wonder why, however, someone who works in retail would decide that Christmas was a good choice of timing. My theory? It gets lost in the melee. When the threshold of chaos is so high, what's one more thing? Sure, sure, you'd like a cigarette, but you need to be in twelve places at once, the store has been ravaged by jackals, and you're not completely sure whether the person having a meltdown in the middle of the second floor is a customer or staff. Bring it, I can take it. Besides, there's still coffee.

A little bit macho and/or stupid? Perhaps, but it's how I'm getting through. I, apparently, have chosen this time for some serious revisions of my own, including rewiring a couple of important relationships. Which, and I don't think I can emphasize this enough, sucks. But hey. More piling product onto displays, less crying until I throw up.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

foiled again

I was going to bring carrot cake for tomorrow's work potluck. I really was. But somehow my grocery store has neither confectioner's sugar nor coconut. This is probably the gods' way of ensuring that my carrot cake remains the province of the bakeoff challenge my general manager has laid before me. I'll have to think of something else, I suppose. Like Timbits.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I keep telling you I'm only the good cop some of the time

A brief rant regarding competence:

I get that different people have different skills to bring to the table. I really do. A clear example of this plays out between my co-worker Karen and I. She is fantastic with detail, and if you give her a list, she runs down it until it's done. I? Am horrid with detail. But great at answering questions like "I'm looking for this book by a Belgian author...I can't remember her name. It's about a woman. Do you have it?"* And smiling my face off for hours at a time.

I'm also good at being patient with people who are just learning the job. None of it is rocket science** but there are approximately ten thousand details, and nobody is going to remember all of them. There are a lot of honest mistakes to be made, and most people at one time or another will make all of them. This does not trouble me.

But there are other kinds of mistakes that I do not have a lot of patience for. An example: what would possess you to shelve the new Sue Grafton novel in the Investing section? That scanner? Is a machine whose SOLE PURPOSE IS TO GIVE YOU INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOOK IN YOUR HAND. Is it too much to ask that you press the button and check what it says? Or this: I know that I have said to you "the maximum number of copies you should have on the shelf is a facing and five spines." I have said it until I am hoarse. So when you shelve a facing, and beside it 27 spined copies of a book, is there no little bell that goes off in your mind? Even if you were struck on the head on the way to work that day, how is it possible not to look at that and think "Something has gone terribly awry"!?

And then there's the "I somehow think you have missed the entire point of this" stuff. For example, when you cannot find a book on the shelf, and I say "Okay, check the staff picks wall," do you know what the correct response is? I'll give you a hint. It's not "So...I have to go downstairs?" YES! YES, YOU HAVE TO GO DOWNSTAIRS! Especially when you've just finished telling me that people keep asking you for this book, and the computer thinks we have three copies somewhere. Also, yes, you are expected to smile, yes, you have to make eye contact, and yes, your coworkers will eventually get pissed off if you do nothing at work, thereby making their jobs harder.

:pant pant pant:

I know that lots of people hate their jobs, and I understand that. But if you hate it that much, maybe you're just wasting your life, eight hours at a time. There's got to be something better you could be doing. Like looking for something you can connect to in the work you're doing. Or quitting and looking for different work.

*Amelie Nothomb. And yes, we do.

**Although, some of it may involve physics. How else do you explain wrangling 12 tonnes of books into a space where only 10 tonnes can go?

Friday, December 07, 2007

time warp

It's December seventh! And do you know what that means?

It's time to start getting my act together about what books we're going to order for Black History Month in February!

Yep. We're not even through the chaos that is Christmas in retail and I've realized that if I don't have this list ready to order on January second, we are not getting half of the books I want. Which seems both unfair and insane. I am still using all of my available brain cells to try and squeeze six boxes of Love in the Time of Cholera onto displays!

I could let this go. It's true. But I know that if I do, future me is going to be cussing out past me for weeks on end.

I'm also trying to make notes to myself about what we've carried over from last year, what's working, what's not, and what I think we should do for next Christmas. You know, so that come July, I'm ready.