I haven't posted in a bit because I have been on vacation from work and away from the Boston area for a few days. OK, well that's only part of the reason, the other reason is that I am addicted to 24. I love this show and I got seasons 3,4, and 5 for Christmas, and season six is starting in like 16 days. The best thing about 24 is there is all the reason and no reason to love it. Its great because it is action packed but really the writing is so bad. Even though I do enjoy hearing Jack yell "Damn It" at least 15 times and episode. That means I heard Jack yell "Damn It" 100 times today (yes I watched 8 episodes) it is so DAMN addictive. Here are some of the things that I love about 24:

1) Important characters die all the time, very few original cast members are still around.

2) Jack will never die.

3) If you run CTU, chances are you will be shot, die, crash a plane or come to some other unfortunate end

4) Presidents wives are totally nuts

5) You talk about 24 with your employees and random customers join in on the conversation because they are so shocked by the occurrences

6) The villains are amazing

7) The twists and turns make you yell at your television

8) The only character that you want to die will never die, but then again it is 24 and season six is on the way

9) Jack can get away with anything and he can do anything

10) If you get to close to Jack or his family you increase the possibility of getting killed

OK, well I am totally addicted and I am thinking about starting season 4 tonight, is 9 episodes in one day too many?

Day 30- Only One Day Left

Usually at this time of year I am exhausted and overjoyed and like a little kid because I finally will get to experience Christmas the way it was meant to be with all of my family. This year Day 31 will be a bit different. I am going to be starting my new job when I return to work in the new year so technically Day 31 is my last day that I will be working in my current store in my current position, and I am really going to miss it.

I am going to miss the people (all of whom try to make me laugh) even when I am grumpy

I am going to miss L's homemade cookies (every assistant should bake for their manager)

I am going to miss the Bible Lady, hey at least she gives me something to talk about

I am going to miss having ten escalators to ride all day long, no other bookstore I know of has ten escalators

Oddly enough, I think I am going to miss my boss a bit, he is quite a character and he is definately one of a kind

I am going to miss the hedgehog (I think I am going to have to take him with me)

I am going to miss the burgundy wall L and I have still not really finished painting

I am going to miss sharing and office suite with 3 other managers

I am going to miss my office window, I don't have a window at my new job, let alone a window that I can see the park from.

Fried Pickles are going to be so far away now, I am going to have to come back when I am not working to get them.

I am going to miss the Haunted Filing Cabinet, seriously it makes weird unprovoked noises throughout the day

I am going to miss my closing shift every Thursday (I am not going to miss closing at 9:00 though 6:30 is so much better)

I am going to miss not being able to drive to work and park right behind my store, this never happens in Boston, but I was lucky enough to enjoy it for 2 plus years.

I am going to miss my nice big leather chair (it is really comfy but L deserves this chair and this job more then anybody I have ever had the pleasure of working with)

It is always weird leaving a job because if you like your job it becomes a part of your identity. I have moved around with my company a lot and I always land on my feet and make new friends and fall into new routines and I find things that I will miss when I leave that job. I know I will do the same in my new position and I know that I will enjoy it.

Merry Christmas to everybody, I hope you all found great books to give as gifts. I wish my staff at my current store all the best, you will all be incredibly successful, and I wish the staff across the river the best of luck, you all have to answer to me now and that can be difficult.

Day 28- Merry F-ing Christmas

What is it about this year that has made holiday shoppers so cranky? The warm weather? A soft economy? No stand out books or other items to give? I am not sure but people are downright miserable. It's not just one customer but numerous ones. I had a woman grunt at me today when I thanked her and wished her a happy holiday. Another customer questioned me as to why I didn't wish her a Merry Christmas but instead a Happy Holiday. I had no reason other than I am used to using the PC term.

This evening I was down on my first floor and a grumpy man came in looking for two calendars he had placed on hold. Her gave one of my booksellers his last name and she went into the back to find them. She couldn't find them so she emerged and asked for some additional information, still no luck so I intervene. I ask him if he knew who he spoke with so that I could narrow it down, he said he spoke with some guy. Well great generally we have men and women working for us so that narrows it down. He is now getting frustrated and exclaims "Well, what is the PROBLEM, I mean you do usually hold things for customers for more then a quarter of a day!" I take a deep breath and remember to turn the switch on my "Bitchy customer filter" to on and say, "yes sir and I am trying to figure out what the situation is." I look up 2007 Civil War Calendars because that is what he told me he had put on hold and I haven't carried any of these this year (I am not surprised I am after all located on a college campus and that is not a big item) but because our system is not perfect I bring him back to the calendar section and we painstakingly exam every calendar

2007 Pretty Puppies
2007 Position a Day Calendar
2007 Frogs
2007 Monkeys
2007 Simpsons Fun
2007 Far Side

Me: Hmmm, I don't see any Civil War Calendars sir are you sure it was this store you called to have them placed on hold

Customer: Yes, I know where I called I wrote it down, see right here

Me: Ok, well it just seems odd that we would have put something on hold that we don't have, and we can't seem to find anywhere in our store. Do you mind if I call the other store in the area just to make sure its not there?

Customer: Fine, but I am not an idiot, apparently one of YOUR employees just doesn't know what they are doing!

Me: Well, let me see what I can find out

Sure enough I call our sister store and the employee on the other side of the phone is familiar with the calendar this customer is looking for and I ask him if he can check to see if he has 2 of them on hold at the front of the store for this particular customer. The employee returns to the line in less than a minute and says that he does in fact have two on hold for this particular customer and they will be on hold for him for 3 days at the front of the store.

I relay this information to the customer and inform him that the store is opened until 11:00pm this evening and he can go there to pick them up they are on hold under his last name. He leaves without apologizing and I make sure I keep my filter switch on just long enough for him to get out of the store and then it clicks off, "Merry F-ing Christmas to you too asshole!"

I resisted the urge to call my sister store and tell them that he decided to no get these calendars so they could put them back on the shelves, but if he pushed me any further tonight that is exactly what I would have done!

Day 26- I Don't Speak Crazy

It has just been one of those days where all of the crazy people come in and I just don't understand how people who are seriously just not all there in life are able to survive. During Holiday time the level of craziness seems to be magnified and understandably so because the Holidays make even sane people slightly crazy. Here are some things from my day that I don't understand:

1) Who calls to complain that about the way we display Billboard Magazine (plus this man has seriously called 8 times for something in regards to Billboard Magazine) we apparently have it on the shelves horizontally and it should be vertical.

2) Who pays for a $5.99 magazine using three gift cards.

3) Who asks me to send a bookseller upstairs to find her a book because the books in her bag (all three of them) were too heavy for her to get on the moving staircase (otherwise know as an escalator) and get the book herself. While my bookseller is looking for the book she couldn't get herself she continuously glares at me expecting me to make my bookseller miraculously re-appear with the book.

4) Who walks in with a huge box of books to sell back to the store and knocks three stacks of books off three separate tables, looks back at her damage and continues walking. On her way out she knocked over a box of cards, apparently she had a very traumatic inner ear infection that was dramatically effecting her balance.

5) Why does one of my employees call me and tell me he has a line of 15 people when in fact he only had one and I was the person with the larger line.

6) Why does the new manager in training cackle like a hyena.

7) Why do customers feel a need to yell at me when I ask if I can put them on hold, and then ask me if I knew who they are. Here is a hint, the "Do you know who I am line" only works if you actually "are" somebody.

8) Why do people think that all books in a bookstore should be free, if I am getting 40% off a hardcover book I am excited, I don't get frustrated when I can't combine it with my 20% student discount and my $5.00 coupon.

9) When I decide that I don't want the book that I can't combine my discount on, I don't throw it across the counter at the clerk. Really no need for that unless you are CRAZY!

See if I spoke crazy I would understand these things but I don't so I am at a loss.

Day 24- How About Some Books for Christmas

Here are some great titles to give as gifts this year (some are selling and others I just wish would sell better)

Audacity of Hope
Inheritance of Loss (Booker Prize Winner)
Holidays on Ice (Holiday Classic)
For One More Day (Yuck, but it is a good gift)
I Like You
Memory Keepers Daughter
My Secret
Tipping Point
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Dreams From My Father (More Obama)
God Delusion
Places in Between
History of Love
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Freakonomics (an updated edition)
Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker
Complete Calvin and Hobbes
Joy of Cooking (75 year anniversary edition)
Omnivores Dilemma
Emperors Children
Photographers Life

These are all available at your local bookstore, go to your bookstore and buy them, don't shop online (Computers are evil)

Here are some of the books I bought myself for Christmas

Fast Food Nation
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
No Country for Old Men
Dreams from My Father
Places in Between
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Strange Pilgrims
Founding Fathers
The Things They Carried

And a couple others, the bag was big and I don't remember all of them, but I think it was 14 in all. Plenty of things to read on the train to work come January.

Day 23- Books and Other B Words

So, like I said it has been a bit crazy, but the craziness has not lead to strong sales. We are trying hard but the customers just aren't appearing in the store and as much as I want to drag customers in off of the street and demand that they purchase at least 100 dollars in books before they leave, it think the company would frown upon this practice. Over the past few days a bunch of things about people (and the weather) have been bothering me.

1) We are running a children's book drive to benefit those who can not afford books to read. I think this is an important cause, and even if I wasn't getting anything for donating a book I would gladly donate. Apparently, this is not the case at my store, and we are offering them a 20% discount on all the Children's books they purchase for themselves if they buy just one book to donate the book drive. I have had two occasions where the customer would actually SAVE money if they donated a book to the book drive, and they REFUSED. One EVIL BITCH even demanded that I give her a discount because she wanted both the books and it said she received 20% off on the flyer advertising the book drive said she would receive that percentage off. I explained the guidelines of the book drive and she told me that I was just being mean because I wouldn't give here the 20% off on the books. No, you bad Fran Dresher Drag Queen look a like, you are being mean to the poor children who can't afford books to read. If you could only find a single ounce of compassion in your non existent heart you would realize that you would save money by being nice to these children. So back off bitch and use some shampoo in that mop of greasy hair on your head.

(I had to walk away from this woman or I think I would have gone after her and beat her with her children's books)

On the same topic, my employees are awesome and they have all donated books, even my mom donated a couple all the way from NY (via me of course).

2) Why is it so warm and why do college students think it is summer? I know it has been very warm this week, and that is probably not good for putting people in the Holiday spirit. However, the college students in my store have been coming in wearing flip flops and tank tops. It is the middle of December, it is almost Christmas, shouldn't these clothes be stored away in your underbed storage cases your parents bought from me on move in weekend. This must be what its like to go Christmas shopping in Florida but it just seems so wrong.

Only 8 more shopping days until Christmas- I can recommend some books to buy if you like!

Day 22- I Swear I will Post Tomorrow

It has been a long week, I am tired and cranky and my feet actually really really hurt. I have so many things to talk about like...

1) Why the HELL people won't donate books to needy children (pisses me off)
2) Christmas Shopping in Flip Flops and Tank Tops (why is it so warm out)
3) Crappy sales
4) Why I bought 13 books for $96.87
5) Season 2 of24
6) Why is there no new TV on
7) Running out of Clothing
8) Oddly enough I haven't fallen down, but I feel it coming

I promise I will post about some of this stuff tomorrow (day 23).

Day 18- We Had An Emergency

Ok, so the Holiday fun is kicked into high gear which is why I haven't had a new post in 4 days. It has been a crazy weekend even though I only worked a half a day on Saturday. I have to say that two of the funniest things happened this weekend.

Funny 1- Saturday I got called up to the second floor, they needed me to be there immediately. I ran up the escalator and went to the information desk to find out what the problem was. I was greeted by a bookseller saying, "A woman is locked in the bathroom and she is upset and can't get out." Well I ran through the options of what I could do without breaking down the door but when none of those worked I ran down the escalator into the basement and grabbed some tools. Not having ever broken down a metal bathroom door before I grabbed what I thought I would need- a hammer, a drill, a crowbar, a wrench, a screwdriver and a power saw. By the time I returned to the second floor a crowd is gathering, now I have to break down a door with an audience. One of the people in the crowd was the cafe supervisor and he offered to help. We start by trying to pry the lock opened with the crowbar. Not working, then we try to remove the lock, also not working. Option 3, we decided to removing the door off of the hinges with a hammer, screwdriver and crowbar. I have sweat dripping down my face at this point. We thought that the hardest part would be removing the pins from the hinges that had been painted over at least 18 times. This was not the hard part, removing the door with a crowbar in the opposite direction from the way it usually goes was difficult. We finally manage to pry open the door and reveal a poor woman, slightly shaken sitting frailly on the toilet seat. She gets up walks out and leaves the store in a huff.

She seemed upset at her rescuers, apparently she thought that this catastrophic bathroom door malfunction was our fault. Now the funniest thing is once we got the door back on its hinges we tried to figure out the problem, but there was no malfunction in the lock, it worked perfectly. Apparently she didn't know how to use a door! Well, at least I didn't have to use the saw.

Funny 2- It was friends and family day on Sunday at the store so we all invited people we have worked with over the year in for a reception and an extra discount. This always goes over well because they are saving 35% on most items in the store. It was hectic and fun. I saw lots of friends and family as well as the friends and family of my employees. We sold a lot of books and that always makes me happy. Some good sellers this year appear to be- Inheritance of Loss (it won the Booker Prize), Audacity of Hope (Obama is doing well), Running with Scissors (at least the crappy movie didn't kill the book sales) and perennial holiday favorite Holidays on Ice. This isn't what is funny, the funny thing is that as one of my best friends S got a coupon for this sale and he came into the store and he got to witness Bible Lady in person. He stood in the drive aisle of the store and was amazed at how she nonchalantly popped pieces of bible into her mouth between gulps of coffee like it was candy. I got great enjoyment out of watching his face, I guess it is a sight, we are just used to her.

One last "funny" thing- I have thirteen more days of work until I get a day off. Ok maybe not so funny!

Day 14- I Can Share the Good News and Bibles

So it is Day 14 about 8 days after I got good news about my job and it is now finally out in the open. After I make it through the fun of the Holiday season I am going to be leaving my current store and heading across the river to a new store. I got a promotion and I am very excited. What is even better is that L got my job, which is what I was pushing for because she really deserves it. It was a happy day when I found out that I got the job, but I couldn't tell anybody. Now I can tell everybody!

Now on to the bibles, or more specifically, The Bible Lady. There comes a time in the life of everybody in the bookstore when they meet the bible lady. This has happened to a few of my holiday temps this week and each of them are shocked once they realize what she does with the bible (eats it, smokes it, uses it to line her shoes). If you want to be shocked I recommend you read the post from Wednesday, September 27 on www.kaitable.blogspot.com K does an excellent job describing what she deals with everyday with the Bible Lady. The funny thing to me is when the Bible Lady suddenly enters life outside of the bookstore.

S calls me the other night and begins the conversation with, "There is something I have been meaning to ask you for a while." I wasn't quite sure what he wanted to ask but then he blurted out, "Does she really eat bibles?" I almost drive off the road in a fit of laughter, not expecting this question but realizing that he actually does read this blog every couple of days. YES she really does EAT the bible! "Well aren't you worried about that?" Hmmm, well not really but he does raise a good point, she could become very sick by eating the bible, possibly from the ink or from the paper and treatments it may receive, or from the gold gilded foil on the edges of the pages. My store does provide her with the bibles that could cause whatever problem eating the bible could cause but, "NO, I am not really worried." She makes the choice to eat the bibles and quite honestly I know she has gone to the doctor since she has been doing this because she has stories about this and will gladly share. We talk a little bit more about her and I now realize that the Bible lady is going to be a permanent fixture in many discussions to come.

I go into work the next day and relay the story to K, and she tells me that the Bible Lady has become a favorite party trick with her friends. If they are ever at a party with new people they tell the story of the Bible Lady and people stare in amazement.

Steve wants to come into the store one day and see her eat the bible, apparently so do some of K's friends.

Come to think of it I am going to miss The Bible Lady when I move to my new job, but I am sure I will find other characters to talk about.

Day 12.5 Who Invited the 80's Back?

Ok, so I saw scrunch socks today and a sweatshirt that looked like it was featured in Flashdance. I was willing to let it go by as a phase that college girls were going through.

Now I turn on the TV and see that the fairly mainstream musical guest on Jay Leno is wearing cutoff acid washed jeans with what appears to be tights made of aluminum foil under them...

Now I ask, who invited the 80's back and why wasn't I asked! It was bad the first time around and guess what, it is bad again!

Day 12- That was NOT easy!

Today is Day 12 of Holiday happiness and there were times today when I was hating the holiday season. It has been a really crazy couple of days since Saturday.

It has been a rough twelve days since sales have been down slightly and I am struggling to find ways to bring back customers, put out the right merchandise and ring on the registers to alleviate the lines that we do have. My VP was in town and asked me to complete a project this week that required me to make 10 copies of each of my floor plans. These plans are very large and because I am on a tight deadline I made a bad mistake of bringing my originals to an office supply store (begins with an S). I arranged for an employee to pick them up at this same place later that evening. When that employee gets to the store, they can't seem to fin the plans or the copies. I get in this morning expecting to work on my plans and they were nowhere to be found. I was quite upset, especially since this project is the last thing I need during the Holiday season. I get in touch with the employee who was supposed to pick up the plans and then I call the store and they explain to me that they remember somebody dropping off the plans but they don't know where they went.

Hmmm, PROBLEM... How do you lose a project your are working on for a customer. I explain that they need to fin these plans and call me back within an hour or I will be coming to the store to figure out a way to straighten out the situation (I think I may have mentioned that a manager and a fit may be involved). I get a call back in 20 minutes and they tell me that my plans were not dropped off at his store they were dropped off at another store across town. He then begins to reprimand me and tell me that I should get my facts straight before accusing him of losing my plans. Well, I am sure that the plans were brought to the store right up the street because that's where we bring all of our projects but I call the store cross town and it seems that they don't have the project either. I AM FURIOUS AT THIS POINT.

After about another hour and some yelling, it turns out that we brought the plans to the original store and they had them brought across town because they didn't have the right machine to copy it, then the store across town was supposed to bring it back to the original store but it had not happened as of yet. I had an employee pick up the plans across town and they are now back in my possession.

Let me tell you... That was NOT easy!

Day 10- A Visit is Coming

It has been a busy few days at the store and we are preparing for an important visit on Monday. Visits during the Holiday season are always hard because while the customer is always number 1, they can rarely have a dramatic effect on your career and a bad visit can be the worst thing to happen to you in the retail world.

Today we are working on presentation as well as helping customers. Usually, Holiday customers are great because they are friendly happy people who want to spend money. Usually, they are looking for books and when we find them they are happy that we have them. Not my last customer before lunch...

I had gone to order a Four Cheese and Tomato Panini from the cafe and went back onto the floor to help a few customers while it was being prepared. I had a scholarly gentleman ask me for a couple books, one of which I had a single copy of (always dangerous but more so during holiday). I looked in a few places but was unable to locate the book. I apologized and offered to special order a copy for him. He wasn't interested and said he would pick it up next time he was in a good bookstore he will buy it. Ok, so I was slightly offended by this comment considering I run one of the best known and largest academic bookstores in the Boston area, but I let this comment roll off of my back.

He then went on to point out that I had a very large gap in my fiction section, he was disappointed that the new Cormac McCarthy book was not in the section. I handed him a copy of The Road and apologize for it not being in the section because it is popular and displayed on our Best of 2006 wall. He felt that it should be in the section and I absolutely agree with him, so it took a copy off of the wall and slide it neatly into the slot that had been left because a customer had purchased this book from the shelves and during this busy time of year we had not yet filled in the "tremendous gap" this book had left.

I ask this same customer is there is anything else I could help him with and he says that another one of this authors books appears to be missing, yes indeed it was, but I was sold out and explained this to him. He is really starting to piss me off and I roll my eyes at L behind his back! He then returns the copy of The Road that I gave him to the wrong place on the display wall and walks out of the store.

Now, seriously, was he just here to point out that I am busy and things are not perfect. I am well aware of this and I am working on it. I have a visit on Monday and I will have VPs and Regionals pointing these things out. I don't need you to point out that certain things are missing. If you want to buy books from me then please come in and ask me questions and let me hand sell to you. If you want to pick apart my store book by book, please wait until after the Holiday season because I really, really don't have time for you!

By the way: I recommend The Road by Cormac McCarthy it is a beautifully written and disturbing book about a father and son in the world following the apocalypse. Not quite an uplifting Holiday read but a great book nonetheless.

Day 8- Is This the Concierge Desk?

I spent most of my day today down on the first floor with K and B. We had a good time as always and sales are starting to pick up so we were fairly busy with customers. I like selling books so today made me happy!

My favorite couple of the day came in this evening, they were staying at the Hotel across the street and wanted some information. The husband walks up to me and asks, "Is this the concierge desk?"

I am slightly thrown off by this questions thinking that maybe this elderly couple thinks they are in their hotel but can't find the room. "Not quite but how can I help you" I respond. It turns out they did know they were in the bookstore and were looking for a place to eat supper and his wife wanted a book. I rambled off a few of the local restaurants and then went up to the second floor of the store to grab a book for the wife. She was feeling very worn out today and the weather was making her hurt. I rang this couple up and I asked them if they needed anything else. They were all set and were going to eat at one of the restaurants I recommended.

"Is this the concierge desk?" Well, the more I think about it the more I realize that even though the sign over my head says book information, I am more of a K Square Concierge. After all, the most frequently asked question is "Where is the bathroom? Today I was also asked where the Park was, where the new Burger Place was, where one should pick up the bus, how does one get to Park Drive, where is there a copy machine, where is there a store where one can buy CD's, how do you remove the red dye from a pottery barn bag from a white jacket, how much is the student discount at the computer store, if the cafe still has Caramel Apple Cider, and if the Retro Hockey Jersey was still available in a smaller size?!? The thing is, I am expected to have the answer to all of these questions, if I don't know customers become visibly upset. So I guess I am the conceirge after all!

Hey Santa Total- I have heard it 16 times this week (no really I am keeping a tally in my office)

Day 6- I Started to Whistle Christmas Carols

Over the last couple of days level one of Christmas anxiety has set in and one of the important signs of Level 1 Christmas Anxiety is whistling Christmas Carols while running up and down the escalator and offering assistance and recommendations to every customer in the first floor drive aisle. Another sign is asking my employees if they see any books "popping" yet. I miss spending full days on the floor and helping customers this is not something I can do every day of the year. However, during Christmas season, especially when things are not as busy as I would like, I start to get stressed. It's almost a panic and I need to step back and say that there are still 25 more working days in the season and a lot can happen during this time.

So much can even happen in just two days, here are some funny and not so funny things that have happened since my last post:

- I got awesome news about work!

- I dropped my cell phone in the toilet, I think it was trying to get back at me for badmouthing its counterparts in Day 4 post.

- The Bible Lady was dancing and singing songs on the first floor today, while holding a cup of soda (I think) with a piece of the bible floating in it. She eats the bible (usually at least one a day) for those of you who didn't know.

- I almost fell down the escalator from 5 to 4 but caught myself before a painful injury could occur.

- While at lunch today L interviewed and offered a position to a great person to fill our Holiday temp hours (all I needed to do this past two weeks was leave for lunch)

- The hedgehog got angry

- I discovered that keeping secrets is really hard and gives me a bit of a headache.

- My boss actually said good job to me and didn't follow it up by "... But I think you should also..."

- My desk now has so few papers on it that I can actually see the wood top.

- My condo had a complete meltdown this morning- the cable went out I didn't have hot water and the electric was on the fritz- apparently new construction up the road hit another line or two.

- We discussed how it was against store policy to eat six foot grinders in the elevator lobby of the store.

- Multiple employees are now wearing these hideous rubber boats called Crocs on their feet, H's pair is actually bright yellow. They say they keep your feet from hurting when you stand up for long periods of time, however, the increased effort I need to exert to keep my lunch down when I see them is amazing.

- A customer actually commented on the body color and flocking process on a sweatshirt in the GM department today, something a non-industry person rarely knows anything about.

- I talked to my sister about Christmas presents and discovered she had already purchased mine before Thanksgiving, I still haven't bought a single one.

- One of my employees actually threatened to not talk to another employee if she found out who stole her cookbook pick in the Holiday Handselling Contest. More to follow this contest gets ugly with 100 bucks at stake.

Ok, I need to go the hedgehog is holding up a post-it note telling me to go home because he can cover me for the rest of the day.

Day 4- Cell Phones

I am addicted to my cell phone and I know sometimes you forget to turn it off and it rings at inappropriate times. Ok, I forgive you for that. I understand that nowadays many people only have a cell, and you need to be talking on it or else you feel you life will end. I hate when I forget my cell at home. Here is the problem, it is not appropriate for you to be carrying on a private conversation on your cell phone while you are asking me for help finding a book or while you are being rung up at the register. It is just really rude.

I am there to help you, as a customer, find a book and get you all the information you are looking for, and then ring you up for your purchases as quickly and politely as possible. I deserve a little respect in return. Therefore, if you need to take a phone call please step out of line and let the people who are clearly less important than you because they don't need to be attached to their phone go ahead.

If you walk up to me while carrying on a conversation please note that I will deliver the best customer service ever, all with a smile on my face, even if you hold up that finger and expect me to wait a minute to ask you all of the questions I am required to ask. Here is generally how a transaction will go if you have your cell attached to your ear:

Customer: Oh, My god you will never guess what happened to me last night (customer throws a copy of people magazine at me while I am ringing)

Me: Hi, how are you today, did you find everything you were looking for today

Customer: (holding up that "wait a minute finger" I am in the middle of a very important conversation) Yeah, I was like so drunk but can you believe he said that to me.

Me: (Ignoring the finger) Your total is $3.99 would you like a bag for your magazine today or do you just want to put it in the bag that you have right there? How would you like to pay for this?

Customer: (throwing five dollar bill in my general direction) Yeah, and then I like threw my drink in his face and like stormed out because I was soooooooooooo mad!

Me: (raising my voice slightly) Ok, out of five, well your change is $1.01 but I am out of singles right now so I can give you for quarters and a penny is that ok.

Customer: (nodding) Yeah, and then the like guy at the door came after me cause like he said I didn't pay my tab. Can you believe that I gave him money.

Me: Here is your change and your magazine. Is there anything else I can help you with tonight? (Not releasing the bag quite yet)

Customer: (getting annoyed at me and shaking head) Yeah, but whatever, we are back together again cause I love him so much!

Me: (as customer walks away) Well, thank you very much and have a great day!

Just in case you couldn't tell, this drive me nuts! Please don't do it, it is so rude and it drives us all nuts.

Gotta go my cell is ringing! See I am stepping away and not involving you in my conversation.

Day 2- The day after the Black

So yesterday was Black Friday and it was pretty slow in the store, but we did have some fun customers. More then one customer however asked me why it was called Black Friday. The general (and wrong) consensus from my booksellers was that because it was so busy it was miserable for the employees. However, in business black is good, here is the real definition:

Definition: What is Black Friday? The day after Thanksgiving in the United States, is frequently referred to as Black Friday.

General Use: One of the major U.S. holiday shopping days. The day many U.S. consumers begin Christmas shopping. The day is heavily promoted by retailers.

Origin: The origin of Black Friday comes from the shift to profitability during the holiday season. Black Friday was when retailers went from being unprofitable, or "in the red," to being profitable, or "in the black", at a time when accounting records were kept by hand and red indicated loss and black profit.

Source: http://retailindustry.about.com/od/abouttheretailindustry/g/black_friday.htm

See, black Friday is a good thing. I wish more people came in and shopped in my store.

Now today, I wish one customer and her child wasn't shopping in my store. As usual, I am a little light on staff and I moved my booksellers to the lower floors and covered the least busy floor myself while doing some work in my office. I walked out every fifteen or so minutes and would help a customer every once in a while if they were there. When I walked out around noon a woman and her son were shopping in the science section and I approached to see if they needed help. She did need some help and I brought them back to the desk to look up some books. Meanwhile, her son is standing behind her "Blowing raspberries" you know sticking his tongue out and blowing spit all over my display tables. Half expecting the mother to tell her son to stop spitting on my books I continue to look up what she is looking for but she ignores him and I turn to her and politely ask her is she notices that the little boy is "blowing raspberries" on that table of books. Now get this, her response "Oh yeah, he does that!" Well Miss, I would appreciate it if he would stop as that could cause damage to these books (plus it is really gross). She seems to ignore this statement and the kid continues to slobber on my books.

Seriously, what kind of a response is "Oh, yeah he does that!" I don't blame this child, he is just being a kid but seriously the parent need to discipline him and show him the appropriate way to behave in public. All my parents ever had to do if I started to misbehave in public was give me "that look." I knew I was about to do something they didn't approve of and I would stop. I know how to behave in public because whenever I do something I think, "would my parents approve of this?" This child will have none of that, I can't wait, in five years his mom is going to be looking for books and he is going to be standing behind her taking a piss on a pile of art books and when I point it out to the mother she is going to say "Oh, yeah he does that!!" At which point I will have him arrested and when the mother protests I guess I will have to say "Oh well, I do that to pain in the ass kids who don't behave!"

Friday- 3 times
Saturday- 2 times

S wants to be entertained

I was talking to S today and he told me that he was disappointed that I had not posted since Wednesday, and Wednesday's post was not entertaining. So, since my blog exists solely for S's entertainment, here is the post from Wednesday that I would have posted if I had time.

Review previous post for key players!

Approximately three to four months ago I unexpectedly broke up with an ex, and since we had been practically living together for four months I had a huge amount of stuff at said exes place. On the day we broke up I packed up four bags of things that I had over at the house and loaded them into the back of my car, it felt like I was moving back into a life I knew nothing about, but I survived. However, I forgot a few things. Over the past few months we have talked and I keep saying that I need to go over an pick up some things but things were still a bit awkward (not unusual when two people break up).

Finally, on Wednesday we made plans for me to go over and grab my remaining stuff. I especially wanted a pair of jeans and I kept promising my father that I would bring season 1 of 24 on DVD home for him, forgetting that it wasn't really in my possession. On my surreal drive to Everett which I had done hundreds of times, I started thinking about things which is always a bad idea, but oh well life goes on and I have landed on my feet and so has my ex.

I arrive right on schedule and ring the bell at the house I used to let myself into all the time, nobody answered! That's odd, I said I would be here at 7. I kind of start to panic and wonder what I should do. I contemplate letting myself using my keys and just claiming my stuff, and leaving the keys on the dining room table where we never ate but we always used to play monopoly. I quickly decide that this plan could be problematic especially if somebody is in the house but didn't hear the bell. I decide to sit in my car and wait for a bit then ring the bell once again. If nobody answers I will head home and try again another night.

I sit down in my car and pull my new book out of my bag, the book starts out... "My boyfriend is standing over me with a knife. Two nights ago, after he had come home from a three-day crack binge, he decided that I could have the rest of the month to get my stuff together and move out..."* Suddenly, I realize that my relationships have not been that bad.

About ten minutes later my exes twin brother drives up, sees me and waves. We exchange pleasantness and chat for a bit and I ask him if R is home. He thinks so but isn't sure so he walks up to the house and I explain why I am there. R is there, sound asleep after a hard day at work I assume. I begin to collect my stuff. I few t-shirts, a few pairs of jeans, a couple DVD's, Season 1 of 24, a pair of pants for work I didn't realize I was missing and a couple other things. The problem, the jeans that I really wanted to wear out tonight are nowhere to be found. Damn, I really wanted those jeans especially since I was expecting to run into another ex of mine where I was going. Hmmm, I was going to have to go to plan B on what to wear.

I say goodbye to the twin, R is still sound asleep, must have been a really hard day at work, and I begin my drive home. Another surreal drive. It is funny how things change so quickly sometimes. Again, the oh well what are you going to do, at least you are still friends line pops into my head.

I move on, now my mind begins to focus on my missing jeans. Where did I put them, how do I lose a pair of jeans, its not like I wander around the city pantless. I try to think back to when the last time I wore them was. I remember things like this. I remember what I was wearing 8 years ago when I interviewed for my job at the N bookstore, I remember what blue shirt I wore to my interview at the Y bookstore, what tie I wore with my black suit at graduation, I remember what I was wearing when I met my second ex I was going to see tonight, come to think of it that green shirt is missing too. Maybe I was wearing that shirt with my missing jeans. Was I wandering around the city with no clothes on? I really don't think so!

My phone rings its J (S's roommate) we are supposed to go to S's bar tonight because the night before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest nights and it should be a great time. I am supposed to meet her at her house before 10:30 it is now almost 9:30 and I have no idea what clothes I have cleaned and what I am going to wear. I rush home, post the notes for this story and go shower and get dressed. I arrive just in time and we have a great night out.

Now, I hope that S is happy with this post, I find it especially amusing that a night out at his bar is what delayed the posting which I hope lives up to expectations!

* Excerpt from I am not myself these days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell.

A Good Post

Boy do I have a great post for you and it will really show all of you who don't believe I am crazy how crazy I really am, it involves:

A missing pair of jeans
2 exes
A new book
A drive to Everett
A twin brother

The problem is I don't have to write about it right now, I promise I will fill you in later!

It Has Begun

Black Friday is around the corner and the craziness has begun, all of the students leave this week for Turkey Day so they are doing some pre-Holiday shopping and things have not really stopped. Here are some things I really enjoy about the holiday season:

1) Helping customers find books and gifts they are looking for
2) Bonding with the staff, laughing and having a good time
3) Falling into boxes
4) Falling up the escalator
5) Watching all of our hard work pay off
6) When a customer smiles because we found the right book or gift for them
7) Making fun of my employees- its just fun
8) Laughing uncontrollably for no reason on day 23 of 30
9) Talking to my buddy at the local distribution center
10) Handselling
11) Crazy customers

Things that make me crazy during the Holiday season:

1) Hearing "Hey Santa" blaring out of the speakers at least 6 times a day
2) 30- 10 hour plus days
3) Running out of books that people are looking for
4) Falling into boxes
5) Falling down the escalator- hurts much more then falling up
6) Really really crazy customers
7) People who make my employees feel like they are worthless- guess what they are better people then YOU

Chances are over the next thirty days I will be venting about all of the crazy stuff that is happening in the store and all of the crazy customers and I think I am going to have to begin the "Hey Santa" tally, but when all is said and done the pros outweigh the cons. I really do love the holiday season and I think that Black Friday should be a party. It is hard work yes, but the smiles on the faces of the customers make it all worth it in the end.

Remember Books make great gifts, buy them, read them, pass them to your friends. I can make recommendations if you want some.

Happy Turkey Day
Happy Black Friday
and Happy Holidays

The Price We Pay

So, I was off on Friday and Saturdays and went down to New York City to celebrate my birthday with Arg and C. Since they live in NY and couldn't come up last weekend, we figured that this weekend was as good as any. It was great to see Arg and C, it has been a while since we have gotten together and we had a great time. I met Arg upstate and we went down to the city and had dinner, then we met up with C and a few of his friends for a few drinks in Midtown then we were off to a club for a good time. Now I know you are all thinking that "the price I pay" is for drinking too much, however, I am literally referring to the price we pay. When did things get so expensive?

Round 1 at this club was a Red Bull Vodka, a Corona and a Diet Coke, the price of Round 1 a whopping $30. Round 2 was a Corona, two shots of of Petron and a Diet Coke, the price of Round 2, here is a hint each shot of Petron is $12- and the total was $43. Round 3 a Long Island Ice Tea, a Diet Coke and a Corona and yes the price was $30. It all just seems excessive to me, but we pay for it! Why do we pay it?

It's not just alcohol either, when I returned to Boston I went to the gym and then ran to the supermarket to pick up a few things to get me through this short but hectic week. Now let me get the receipt out of my back pocket... Ok here is what I bought

Tortilla Shells
Yellow Cheddar Cheese
Tropicana Orange Juice
Deluxe Ham
Muenster Cheese
Sub Rolls
Friskies Chicken and Salmon
Deli Cat Cat Food
Cat Litter
Wisk Laundry Detergent
Hair Gel

13 items- Can you guess what the total was for these items?

Brace yourself because I almost fell over when I looked up from bagging these items, the total was $77.03 and this is with a $3.57 savings because of my card.

I am in retail, I should really know how much things cost but I didn't really buy that many things and I was shocked. The price of things keeps going up and somehow I am still making the same amount of money, no wonder I have no cash.

And I didn't even pay for all the rounds in New York City!

Like a Chicken With Its Head Cut Off

I have been running around the store like a chicken with my head cut off for the past two days. Black Friday (otherwise know as retail hell) is right around the corner. In exactly one week the heart of the Holiday season has arrived and we don't stop until New Years.

Our goal has been to make sure that we are completely set for the Holiday season by this Friday. We have been ordering books and climbing the walls to fill overstock and ducking under tables to fill up the understock. If we put another book on the first floor it may cause a violent chain reaction that will end in K Square being covered in rubble and wrumpled pages.

It has been so hectic over these last few days that I know I completed numerous tasks I am just not sure how I actually got them done. I spent a majority of the days running up and down the 10 escalators in the building over our seven floors. So far in the past two days I have:

1) Helped run a major event with a "celebrity author"
2) Worked on typesetting our Gift signs and met to discuss the overall graphic design of these signs
3) Worked on our Holiday Ad campaign with the newspaper and designer for the company
4) Put together a $300.00 gift basket for our Holiday raffle (Thanks for the help K)
5) At least 50 other random things

Now, for those of you who know me you are probably going "Wow, I didn't know that you knew that much about advertising and graphic design." or "Hey, that must be fun working with 'celebrities'." Well, you are right I really don't know per se how to do a lot of the things I am asked to do and that contributes to the "Headless Chicken Syndrome" I suffer from. I have to figure all of these things out as I go and it involves a lot of questioning and making mistakes and working with some people who have done these things. I have to say it is all very fun but it is all very stressful. All of these things have deadlines and guess what- I STILL HAVE TO DO ALL OF THE OTHER THINGS!

This is the joy of retail management, it is an all inclusive task and you learn a little about everything and along the ride you meet some great people who can help you out.

Now it is time for me to go because I have just as many things to do at home that I really don't know how to do:

1) Laundry
2) Cook dinner
3) Pay bills
4) Pick up after the cats
5) Email
6) Sleep- this one is always the hardest!

The Not So Artful Interview

Each year I conduct about 100 interviews, this means over the past 8 years I have probably had 800 applicants sit in front of me and tell me that they are the right person for whatever job is available. I know that interviews make people nervous, they make me nervous too, but people still never cease to amaze me.

I have a series of questions that I always ask when I am interviewing people for my book department. The company has a series of questions we are supposed to use as well but I rarely use them because they are typical and anybody can study for them, therfore hiding their true selves. My assistant has a set of questions she always uses as well, we sit down and ask a prospective employee a group of questions that allow us to decide if they are right for the position. Here are some questions we ask and here are some good answers and bad answers. I did not make up any of these answers I promise! These are all things I have heard in my 800 plus interviews:

JRH: Can you start out by telling me about yourself?
Good: I graduated from... with a major in English and I am going for my Masters in publishing. I love reading and think it would be fun and challenging working in the bookstore environment.
Bad: Well, what would you like to know?

Key point here- I know it can be hard but when you walk into an interview be prepared to talk a little bit about yourself, and if you find it hard to talk about yourself then talk about why you want to work in a bookstore. This brings us to our next question.

JRH: Tell me why you are interested in working in a bookstore
Good: I am looking to learn more about books and I love recommending books to people. I have some retail experience and would love to be able to use it to sell things that interest me.
Bad: I love reading and it would be fun to be around books all day.

This is a close one- We love to hire people who love books and can talk about books with customers, but your day is not full of reading, fondling, and smelling books. Unfortunately we don't have three hours of your day set aside to read. We love people who want to work in a bookstore because they love books and they want to SELL them to other people. We can not hire you because you love books and want to be around them. I know its hard, but it's the truth.

JRH: Tell me what you are reading now
Good: I am reading blah blah blah by blah blah
Bad: Well, I am not really reading anything I can't seem to find a book I like

Key point here- you are interviewing at a bookstore, be reading something or have some book knowledge so you can at least say you are reading a book. An equally bad answer is a book that doesn't exist or not being able to remember the title of the book you are reading or the author. We have a lot of book knowledge and we can tell if you are faking it.

JRH: Tell me about one of your characteristics that you feel might be a weakness?
Good: You can say anything, just tell me why you think it is a weakness
Bad: Ok not anything, please do not tell me that your biggest weakness is that you are a perfectionist.

Key point- I have interviewed 800 people and 750 of them say that their biggest weakness is that they are a perfectionist. I wouldn't say that it is a weakness, plus I know that you are all not perfectionists because then the whole world would be perfect (and its not). Therfore, I think that you are all LIARS and that is a weakness!

These aren't all the questions I ask, and depending on the interview I change my questions around a bit. The best interview is one that evolves into a comfortable conversation about the job you are interviewing for and what characteristics you possess make you the right person from the job.

Good Luck if you ever have to sit down across the table from me in an an interview. I am warning you now to be prepared and I am very picky. In my defense all I am looking for is somebody who will work well in my department.

By the way:

JRH: What are you reading now?
JRH: I am currently reading two books, The Crying of Lot 49 and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

Random Thoughts

So Mondays are usually hectic and busy but today was very random, especially since I was very hyper and when I am hyper my mind goes in all sorts of directions. If you can follow my train of thought then I seriously recommend that you get professional help...

1) I wonder what color my pants are, I really think they are dark brown but I am not sure
2) Hey, how did that ink stain get on my shirt?
3) Oh damn, I have a blue marker line all over my wrist
4) I wonder how it is possible for the bible lady to eat at least one bible a day, I think that would give me a stomach ache (for more information about the bible lady see posts on www.kaitable.blogspot.com)
5) I really hate how that overstock looks in science fiction
6) I much prefer the way the book stacks look above science fiction
7) Hmmm, wonder if we have looked at the quantities on order for the best of 2006?
8) Damn I can't believe there are no copies of the "Dirty Minds" Game in the warehouse
9) I'm hungry
10) Its funny that I just can't get into the book I am reading, I love all of his other books
11) Oh, L, did you finish Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell?
12) Did I tell you about my Friday night and the awful service I received (see previous post)
13) I won the Us Weekly Game, I need to tell K!
14) What if we switch the positions of the Games Table and the Paperback Favorites Table?
15) Yum, the rolls are really hot today
16) I should call B and see when he starts working at Cornwalls, I miss B being my server!
17) I wonder what I should read next?
18) Hey look C is here I wonder how she is doing?
19) Why did ST ask C to come and sit with him an DS, he really didn't enjoy her company when she was working here!
20) Wow, it is almost 3:00.
21) Are my pants really dark brown?
22) What am I going to have for dinner?
23) My job would be so much easier if other did their job. This one I said out loud as my regional manager walked in the door to my office and mocked me.
24) We need to setup that Awards endcap
25) I really am addicted to television (more on this one day soon)
26) I need to call S and see how work went last night!
27) I should go to the gym, what should I do as a workout?
28) Should I eat before of after the gym?
29) Oh, Studio 60 is on tonight!!
30) Did I do the ordering today?
31) No, L did the ordering for me today
32) Wow, my thoughts really are random!
33) Why do they never have DP in the cafe?
34) We need to order some "Holiday Blue" paper to print our event listing on for November and December.

Really, I find it quite amazing that I am able to actually complete a single task in any given day, however, it seems to work. I had a very productive day today and made important changes to the floor and reviewed some important information in order to be ready for Holiday. I am heading to the gym soon and I have to be back at work at 7am tomorrow. I wonder if my thought process will be as random tomorrow and if not I wonder if I will get as much done.

35) I wonder what I will write about in my blog tomorrow!

I Didn't Have to Get Carried Home

So I told you that I would let you know if I needed to get carried home last night, and while I did not make it home to my bed I crashed on S's couch, I walked all the way back to his house all by myself after a night out for my Birthday.

We had a great time despite some horrible service... here is where my job in retail tends to make me very particular.

We were at a bar on Boylston (begins with and L) and ordered a round of drinks for the table- I think it was about six drinks and a shot and the waitress failed to charge us for the order properly since we wanted the bill split 4 drinks on one and 2 drinks on the other. When she came over orginally the bill was $32 for all of the drinks, when she returned it was $12 for the two drinks and $18 for the other four. 12+18=30 not 32. Seems odd but whatever! We gave her a tip but i was not a full $1 per drink I normally tip because quite honestly it was not fast friendly service. When it was time for the next round of drinks my sister approaches the waitress and asks for her to come over when she gets a chance so we can order another round of drinks. Now get this, the waitresses response was "Next time if you tip me better I will get you drinks" and she walked away and was not seen again the entire night.

WHOA- WHAT THE F- Last time I checked it was the job of the waitress to serve her customers and its not like we didn't give her any money, where does she get off being so rude. I was quite furious but my sister talked me down from confronting her but it really made me quite angry. I would never tell one of my customers that I was not going to help them, no matter how rude they may be (and we weren't rude). My job is to help the people that come into my store unless they are trying to rob the store or are physically and verbally abusive to myself or one of my employees. Gimmie a break... I could be mean and mention the place I recieved this awful service but I won't, however, I will not be returning to this establishment.

So, we left this bar at 1:00 because it closed, two apparently was not early enough and went to the bar with one bathroom. No, that's not the name of the bar but seriously, it only had a single stall men's room and a single stall women's room. What is that about, I have a notoriously small bladder and after a few beers I can't hold it. Yet, I had to wait in line for this one place to go with 7 other people in front of me. What do they do when this place gets busy? I have never heard of anything like it, most places you go have at least a few stalls.

Despite all of the things I am venting about we had a really good time. Had a few drinks with friends, relaxed and enjoyed. Plus I didn't need to get carried home, even though my sister did get her heel stuck in a grate!

I'm 26

So tonight at exactly midnight one of my best friends called me to wish me a Happy Birthday, I was actually in the bathroom when he called but when I called him back he was really excited that he was the first person to wish me a Happy Birthday on my Birthday.

This is also the same friend who is taking me out for drinks tonight with a whole big group of friends and family. This is also the same friend that I pretty much had to carry home the Sunday before Halloween because he had just a little bit to much to drink (how the boy loves his Patron). I have a feeling he might be carrying me home tonight!

I have great friends, over the past two plus years we have been through a lot of things as a group and individually. S is always there to talk, we actually talk at least once a day about some of the most random things and sometimes about really important topics, or the drama in our lives. We all miss P now that he is back in Brazil but had a great time last month in NYC and Boston. Arg is Arg, there is no way to describe that one but he has been there for me even though he is married in NY now; we still talk all the time (or email at work when we should be doing other things). I actually returned to my desk one day before P's visit from Brazil and clicked the send and recieve button on my Outlook account to recieve 88, yes 88 emails from my friends talking about all of the things we were going to do in NYC, and who was going to handle the driving because we were definately not going to use public transportation. We spent a couple nights in the city and we didn't stop the entire time and we never took public transportation!

As you get older (and I know I am not old by any stretch of the imagination) you really learn to appreciate the friends that you have and the time you get to spend with them. We all have jobs and we have all grown over the past few years but keep in touch and make sure that we are all taken care of. We learn from each other and make fun of each other non stop. But these are the people along with my family that I lean on when I need help, these are the people that you need to survive, and these are the people that drag you out for a couple drinks on your birthday!

I'll let you know if he has to drag me home tonight!

Why I Am Here

I am going to start off by apologizing for my spelling and grammar... I am a 26 year old (tomorrow) college educated male and I write much like I think... It can be all over the place and if I were you I would expect tons of run on sentences. All of my English professors would be so disappointed in me!

I am joining the world of blogging because I am going into the craziest time of the year at work and I figured I would definitely have a few stories (by the way I am a manager at a bookstore).

Believe it or not it is already one week into the Christmas season for retail and I am already tired, and this is just the beginning for me- I work everyday from Thanksgiving to Christmas and about twenty days into that I do things like fall backwards into boxes on the floor and lay there laughing at myself with customers and my employees all laughing at me. This is why I am writing this blog, because I will probably need to vent about all of my crazy customers, or my crazy employees and co-workers and all the stupid things I may do...

Who knows what will come up, and I won't just post about work even though I don't usually lead a very entertaining life (actually I am a creature of habit) but you never know...

So today was my last day of work before my birthday, and I have great employees who all wished me a Happy Birthday, got me a card and even baked for me.. I lugged an entire cake, a batch of awesome Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (my favorite) and Brownies. Have I mentioned that my employees ROCK! The only problem was I was really cranky- it was a whole combination of things including my boss who purposely drives me nuts and my annoying cold that won't go away. So I get in this afternoon because I was closing the store and I walk in and my entire second floor is a mess, I am very particular about how things are displayed on my floor, I like things neat and I want them to make sense. My boss likes to push my buttons, he has good intentions he wants me to look at things differently and think outside the box, the problem is I was cranky and he created about three hours of additional work for myself and my staff. I was furious, and called him a few choice words probably a bit too loud and I got a bit frustrated with the whole situation and may have been a bit rude to one of my employees who works very hard. I needed quite some time to cool off and go to the Cafe to get myself a Diet Pepsi (DP) which always make me feel better. I then had to return to the floor to start hanging signs and moving books that should have never been moved. This is what really drives me nuts, there are ways to push me to be better at what I do other than creating more work for my entire department. I recommend a discussion. So, after about three hours of work the floor is back to looking nice and orderly and better than yesterday. I guess he wins- but it just drives me nuts.

Anyway, I am babbling now, Thanks to all my employees and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!