Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bookseller On Duty

I work part-time in a major Canadian bookstore. I love it. I love helping people find books. Most of all though, I love talking about books with people, which inevitably ends up with us discussing life, love and the pursuit of happiness. I'm always amazed at what total strangers will reveal to me while standing in an aisle of books. I've heard so many life stories now, I can't even remember them all.

There's the newly retired customer who was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease who is attempting to modify her diet and lifestyle at the same time as she attempts to enjoy her new found freedom from the nine to five world. There's the customer who was "just browsing" and we got into a discussion about the Post Secret art project and the nature of secrets and how anonymity allows us to bear our soul to the world. And then there's the older gentleman who comes in almost every night and reads Pilates books. He must be at least 70. He walks with a cane and has some vision and hearing issues. I've tried to engage him in conversation about his fascination with Pilates, but I haven't gleaned much yet. He's a bit of a mystery.

I've had customers tell me about battling cancer, going through break-ups and divorce. They share with me the issues they have with their children, their spouses, their pets; their battles with life, God, and everything in between. I have customers that miss me when I'm sick, customers that hug me when I'm down, customers that I consider friends, if not family.

People sometimes ask why I do this work, with the pay being so craptastic. And this is why. I love stories. And at the bookstore, I am surrounded by them. The stories on the shelf, written by people I will never meet and the stories of those who walk the aisles. I am happy to share the journey with all of them.

tall penguin

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