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)