Reading All Over

On the bottom of the column on the left hand side of the page is a map of the world (a ClustrMap) and it shows me where people are reading my blog and you all can see it as well.

I think it is really cool that people all over the world are reading my blog, not only all over the US but in Canada and way up in Alaska, all over Europe including Portugal, England, France (hi Sarah) and in Japan and a bunch in Australia! I even get excited when a dot pops up in an area where one has not previously been!

So since I think it is so cool I just figured I would say hello to all of you all over the world and please feel free to say hello to me as well in the comments section!

On Global Warming

Just a quick note, I now officially throw my support behind the candidate that SUPPORTS global warming, because quite honestly three snow storms in a seven day period and way below normal temperatures are not enjoyable. I think that global warming sounds like a great idea, at least in New England.

On Not Judging A Book By Its Cover

In the book business it is easy to forget the old adage our mothers told us, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." After all if people didn't judge books by there covers then Chip Kidd wouldn't have a job. (Chip Kidd is one of the most famous book cover designers and graphic artists in the book business). In the bookstore business we put out books that catch peoples attention, not only by the content but also by the cover. A bad cover can mean that a book doesn't get prominently displayed, if a book does poorly in hardcover, be sure that the cover will be reinvented in the paperback edition. I can tell you that in the bookstore business we are even a little bit stuck up when it comes to covers, because we always- ALWAYS hate the MTI (movie tie in) cover, it is always cheesy looking I promise you.

Now this little rant brings me to the point of this post, the second book post in a row which is very odd for me. I just finished (yes in one day) reading The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a book written by and about the 53 year old editor of french Elle, who suffers a stroke and is stuck in a locked in state. He is not in a coma and is aware of his surroundings but he is completely paralyzed, his only mode of communication with the outside world is done by blinking his left eye. And while in this state he wrote a book! This is an uplifting story about a man who refused to die, even though his body was essentially dead.. It is a very short book but it is well written and moving.

Now how does these two connect? When I picked up the book out of the biography section at my store, the only edition we had available was the MTI cover, it looked cheesy! As a matter of fact there is a young girl on the cover who I later learned really has no role in the book. I almost immediately put the book down and moved on to L's next suggestion. I am not sure what pushed me to give the book a second chance, but I flipped it over and read the back cover and I decided that it could make the first cut. The book seemed like it could be interesting, but how could a good book have such a crappy cover, then again Atonement is really good, and it has an awful MTI cover now. The book finally made it through all the cuts based on the story and not on the cover, and after finishing Kavalier and Clay I was looking for a short piece of non-fiction to read this week, and it was the one I picked up. I have to say I was a bit embarrassed reading it on the train (cheesy cover again) but I am glad that I read it. It definitely was an interesting and uplifting book.

See, mom was right, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover... however, if I were to ever put this book out on a table, it would be with the regular cover not the MTI one!

So Worth It

I finally finished the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay... yes it took me a little over a month to finish it, but it is 650 pages long. It is one of those books that people either love or they hate, and I loved it. There was so much more than the comics in this book.

This is possibly one of the most intriguing books I have ever read, who would have thought a book involving comic books would be so interesting! (I guess L, who recommended it to me knew though) Joe Kavalier is a fascinating character, who is not able to see all that he has, and Sam Clay longs for the time when he can be accepted for who he is. The reader follows the ups and downs in their lives not knowing what to expect thanks to Chabon's vivid imagination. I was entranced with his writing and words, and enthralled with his clever imagination. There are many touching and poignant scenes and phrases that I feel I can see when I close my eyes. All in all, one of my most satisfying reads. It ranks up there with my long term favorite Shadow of the Wind, mainly because the characters are so real, and after 650 pages you are still wanting more!

It was definitely worth the time I put in, and a great way to spend a snowy Boston day (after I shoveled out my car)!

Snow = Death to Sales

Ten years ago if you got a one day snow storm and everybody around you closed, it was OK because people still had to go to the stores and shop at some point. Now, when it snows and people get sent home from work and can't go shopping you will not recover those sales. Why? Well, because of the Internet. All of these people that still need to do their Christmas shopping will have the chance to shop online without the silly interruption of the workday. All they need to do is pop onto a website, pick out gifts for their loved ones, enter some credit card information and bam... Christmas shopping is complete!

Needless to say, I am slightly panicked~ it is obviously the Christmas season, and everything around me is closing at 2:00pm, it is snowing heavily and while we have some customers now, I am going to lose about half of my sales for the day, and I have no ability to regain these sales. I am pretty much screwed, up shits creek without a paddle and all of that.

I hate snow, a little flurry during the Holiday season puts shoppers in the mood, it reminds customers that Christmas is around the corner, but a major snow storm is not what we need to drive people into the store.

Snow definitely does equal death to strong holiday sales! Damn!

When Worlds Collide

Yesterday I had to mail some additional Christmas Cards that I hadn't sent with my first batch. I was in a rush because I wanted to get them out so people would actually have them before the Holiday, plus I was on my short lunch break and I wanted to have time to eat.

I left the store at like 2:00 and was waiting in line at the Post Office by 2:05 and I only had to wait for about 10 minutes to get to the front of the line, get my stamps, and drop the cards in the mail. I was actually in a pretty good mood, something that is rare this time of year and I walked next door to the ABP. I was gently ladling my Tomato Bisque into a cup when I heard the whiny grating voice of the "Snapple Lady."

The "Snapple Lady" is a clearly disturbed woman, who shops at my store on a fairly regular basis. She is one of the few crazy customers that I simply can't tolerate. I generally duck and run for cover when she appears because she is just that annoying. She always buys approximately four Snapples and then needs to put them in her bag. But our counter is never big enough for her to place her multiple bags on the counter and maneuver the four bottles of Snapple in there. She always complains (once again in her whiny strained voice) that we need to build bigger counters because we are discriminating against women. Other whiny complaints also include needing wider aisles because we are discriminating against fat people and that our escalators move to fast.

But back to the worlds colliding... so when I hear "Snapple Lady's" voice I abruptly drop the ladle into the soup, splashing it all over the counter and try to plan my escape without her seeing me. Unfortunately, the sound of the dropping ladle has caught her attention and I am spotted, I decide to pretend not to notice her as she harasses the poor cashier. I finish getting my soup and bread bowl and gently walk towards the line. It appears that "Snapple Lady" can't find her card anywhere in one of her bags... this is apparently a new bag, and the counters at ABP are too small for her to find anything. She continues to whine and curse and sputter looking for her card for at least five minutes where I seem to go undetected. As I slowly sneak up to the cash register directly behind where she is throwing her fit she notices who I am and exclaims... "YOU ARE THAT GUY AT THAT STORE, YOU ARE BAD PEOPLE."

The cashier looks at me with that level of understanding that is only possible when you work with the public. She finally find her card, mutters more to herself and then finally leaves. I pay for my soup, put myself together and head out the door. On my way out I say to the poor cashier who had to handle "Snapple Lady."

"She is one of my favorites"

She replies, "Yeah, no kidding she is one in a million."

It is weird when your work life collides with your non-working life, but I guess it is part of the deal, and it does make me feel better knowing that I am not the only person that "Snapple Lady" drives crazy!

Not So Lucky Strike

I hate bad service, it makes me crazy when I get bad service, when I see people getting bad service or most of all when any of my employees deliver bad service. Therefore, when I was bowling on Thursday with H and a few other people from another store (as in 14 people total) and had to deal bitchy attendants and waitstaff I was not at all amused.

I actually told this story at my pre-opening meeting on Friday because it shows that when you deliver bad service it is very quick to spread and can negatively impact your business. As the old retail adage goes, an unhappy customer always tells 10 people about a negative experience, but they never tell people about a positive one. I would have never told my employees about a night out bowling if I had a good time and received good service.

Anyway, back to the story! On Thursday night I went out with H to go bowling at a place on Landsdowne called Lucky Strike (part of Jillians). We had been there a few times before and received decent service and had a good time. H and the other12 people got there a bit before me because I was closing my store and didn't get there until 7. Once I got there and found them they told me to go downstairs and add myself to lane 22. I went downstairs and waited in line to add myself and when I got to the front and mentioned this to the woman she grunted at me and told me that we all better hurry up because she had a party coming in at 8:30 and we needed to be done by then. I was kind of taken aback by her bluntness but figured maybe she was having a bad day, and she was very busy. As I was leaving I asked her where I could get my ever so stylish bowling shoes and she rolled her eyes and pointed upstairs. I got my shoes and went back and joined the party. It was my turn to bowl already since everybody was hurrying to get through the games (after all there was a party coming in at 8:30).

Things were going well, until it was time to order food from the ditsy waitress, who could not keep things straight and brought us more of some things and none of others. Then when we asked for our food tab we were all charged for items we did not receive. It took 20 minutes for all of us to settle up.

And while we were settling up the bitch from downstairs arrived. She wanted to tell us that we only had 20 minutes left until the other party arrived so we would need to hurry up or she would have to kick us off of the lane. I look up at her and tell her that we are well aware of this fact because she told us 6 times each, another woman chimed in and said, "plus we only have two frames remaining."

At 8:20, the lanes are turned off, we have not finished bowling because of all the drama with the tabs and we were told that we had until 8:30, I was quite upset because we have been respectful of this places wishes even though they have negatively impacted us and we have not been treated with respect. I go to take my shoes of and return them as I am not ever planning on returning to this establishment again, and another associate from the other store goes down to figure out what was going on. It appears that the woman felt we were going to take to long so she shut down the lanes. I didn't have the energy to go down there and argue with her and get our $140 bucks back (10 a piece) so I just decided to tell everybody I know that they shouldn't ever go to Lucky Strike!

By the way, I am an awful bowler I came in 13th out of 14.

Launch Codes??

After killing three of the same style phones in a six month period (I have no idea how) I got a new phone this week. Well, not exactly a phone, I got the new Verizon Wireless Blackberry Pearl. This means that in the palm of my hands I can access the Internet, check my emails, make a phone call, type in the address I am going to and get directions, send a text message, access instant messenger and a number of other things I have yet to figure out.

I love that my email pops up as soon as I receive it, I love that I was lost last night and all I had to do was pull over and type in the address and I got a map and turn by turn directions. I am constantly in touch, and it is not much bigger than my previous phone. I love technology and I think it is the greatest thing that I can do all of these cool things on my little device. My problem is that no matter how much I love technology, I am not very good when it comes to using it. Even the simplest things on my old phone can confuse me on my new phone (called S's wrong number the other night). And while I am getting better and learning how to use all of the features I am afraid that while I am learning I will accidentally type in the nuclear launch codes and start WWIII... if this happens I am very sorry!

It's That Time Again

Every six months we get an extra discount on books at my store. Usually once during the summer and once during the Holiday season. This year because Hanukkah falls early, the extra discount is slightly earlier. As usual, I bought a bunch of books for myself, because I need to treat myself to books for Christmas because nobody in their right mind would buy me them.

As usual I consulted Lisa on the books that I should purchase, and with a little of my own input I purchased 13 books for $100.40 (I saved 82.19)! I got some fiction and some non-fiction, some classics and some new stuff, of course some travel writing and biographies, and even a title that is technically teen fiction but has won tons of awards and is supposed to be excellent. So here is the list of some of the books I bought...

Book Thief (teen fiction one)
Death in the Andes
Unbearable Lightness of Being
If You Liked School You'll Love Work
White Noise

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky
Into the Wild
Looming Tower
A Year in the Merde
Notes from a Small Island
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

I know I went a little heavy on the non-fiction this time when I usually try to keep it even, but there were so many books that I wanted to read that I had to hold off somewhere. If I allowed myself unlimited books I would have been poor (er) and very sad.

Ah, and an update on my progress in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay... I am 400 pages in and I am enjoying it, it has been slow going with the Holiday and stuff but I only have 223 pages left and I am definitely going to finish it. I will even have a sense of accomplishment when it is done. And just in case you were wondering, I am really enjoying it.

Tis The Season for "Hey Santa"

The Holidays are here in full force in the retail world which means that it is time for the stores to have all of the holiday displays and decorations up. I have already even done some of my Christmas shopping. As hard as the Holidays can be in retail I also love this time of year, the influx of customers and overall Holiday cheer is great to see. I love making book recommendations and assisting customers purchase presents for loved ones.

One of the ways to put customers in the happy Holiday spirit is through playing Holiday music in the store. After a while the same five Cd's will drive the employees nuts but chances are a customer will not be in for five straight hours so they will hear some of their favorite holiday songs and want to shop. It lifts the spirits of even some of the most stressed shoppers. This year however, my music is not under lock and key as it was last year, and some employees and other managers keep changing my Cd's. Today when I came into work I didn't feel like I was in a winter wonderland, I felt like I was in Southern Italy (or a bad Italian restaurant). I immediately went to the CD player and changed all of the Cd's to Holiday themed songs. I also put a sign on the CD Player telling people that I would remove their fingers if I found non-holiday music in the player.

Thirty minutes later I hear Eric Clapton's new CD playing, this is not Christmas music! I immediately return to the player and change the Cd's and then hunt down the culprit. I was so pissed because my sign had even disappeared and I had to find who took my sign and changed the music. I found my sign ripped up in the trash receptacle of one of my managers who was not in today. It was a well played move, however, I knew I would still find the person who had done this (and I did). I calmly explained to them the reasoning behind this and they looked at me like I was crazy, but seemed to respect that it was my decision and I am ALWAYS RIGHT.

So the motto of this story is that even if Hey Santa drives you crazy, not hearing Hey Santa or something of the sort will drive me crazier.

(If you know nothing about the song "Hey Santa," please refer to last holidays posts!)

Bad Driving

First off, I know I have been MIA almost all month, no I did not die at my birthday party, I even managed to make it to brunch the following morning at a reasonable hour. Work has been nuts (I have hired and fired about 6 people in the last 3 weeks) and of course it is the Holiday season. This year will not be as crazy as last year was (at least for me) when it comes to the Holidays but there is still a lot to do. I hope that I can get back on a usual blogging schedule as well because as I have said it helps me de-stress and deal with all of the crazy days.

I am back in Boston now, and back to work today after a few days off in New York with the family. It is always good to go home even if it is for a short period of time. I love my family even if they drive me nuts and I love being home for the holidays. When and if that day comes when I am not in New York with the family on the holidays it will be weird. I drove down to New York on Thursday morning, and I think that was one of my biggest mistakes.

I haven't driven my car in close to two months for a number of reasons. I started it every once in a while, but didn't even drive it around the block. But it is getting cold now, and I needed to drive to New York for the holiday so it was time to put the car back on the road. I am however, a notoriously bad driver, my friends hate when I am the driver. Not because I do things horribly wrong behind the wheel but because my vision is bad, I don't know my left from my right and some people think I drive to fast while others think I drive to slow. Also, I am always on the phone and even when I am not I never have both hands on the wheel. So add to these weaknesses some heavy traffic and for the first time driving for a long distance with my contacts in and we are pretty much waiting for a disaster.

I left at 10:15 in the morning and the first 30 minutes was smooth sailing until I got to 495 and the traffic began. Now I have admitted that I am a bad driver but the people on the road on Thursday morning were ridiculous. People were flying up the shoulder of the road, forcing themselves into already packed lanes, cutting people off and stomping on their breaks inches from the car in front of them. I was making a valiant effort to avoid impending catastrophes by calmly listening to my music and remaining off of my phone, but as the hours passed and traffic wasn't moving I became more and more frustrated and ever so bored. So I began dancing to my I-Pod (the new once since my bag at work was stolen) and making phone calls to wish people a happy turkey day (gobble gobble). At this point I ma three hours into a trip that normally takes three hours and I am at least 90 minutes from my destination.

Through Hartford I am traveling at about 85 miles an hour in the center lane and I still have people up my ass and passing me all over. Trucks are flying down the right lane an barrelling practically into the trunks of compact cars. Older couples are merging into the highway at 30 miles per hour and accelerating to 40. I am exhausted, my knee hurts and I fear for the lives of some of these people on the road, especially since I have witnessed at least 4 close calls.

When I finally make it all the way through to Waterbury, traffic stops, like a dead stop that you see in the cartoons where all the cars pile up onto one another. we sit and don't move. I am stressed because I am missing so much time with my family, and I have to pee so bad. We are not moving and all I see ahead of me is bright red tail lights, all of the drivers seen as frustrated as I am and are doing very stupid things. My blood boils for over an hour as I sit in traffic, my stomach is churning because I haven't eaten. I am saving myself for Thanksgiving dinner after all. It looks like traffic is about to break, I can see flashing lights from police cars, and bright spotlights on the road, as I drive closer I notice that there are trees all over the road, nice trees not branches, as a matter of fact, it appears a Christmas Tree truck has lost its entire load of trees all over 84. Tis the season!

It is close to 5:00pm when myself and my car stagger into my aunt's house for dinner. I am exhausted but it is good to see family, and I am glad that I made it home, I can only hope that all the other bad drivers on the road that day made it home as well.

Shakespeare: The World As Stage

So, I didn't hate Shakespeare: The World As Stage. I finished the last few pages this morning and enjoyed learning a few random facts, like the agree upon spelling of his name is actually not one of the spellings that he ever used, but he did spell his name at least six different ways. I also learned that there is no agreed upon order for his plays, and some people don't even think he actually existed. Ah yes, and you know that picture you have in your mind of what William Shakespeare looks like, well that may not be what he looks like because it is based on an artist sketch that was done well after his death.

Now I agree none of these are groundbreaking, and I probably should have learned all this in high school when studying Shakespeare but I really didn't care for any of his plays, and never really paid that much attention to what was going on in class when we were studying him. I find that I would probably appreciate Macbeth or Hamlet more if I read them today, I would have a better understanding, much like I actually appreciate The Great Gatsby and The Stranger now, when I didn't when I first read them. However, I don't think I can go back and read any Shakespeare but we will see.

I am now off to my next challenge, I started reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I was going to start reading it a few months ago, but I opted out because it is close to 600 pages. This scared me because I am a slow reader and I was worried that I would get bogged down and not be able to finish. I guess we will see how things go, I am already 40 pages in so it is going pretty fast.

Happy One Year Anniversary "Stuff On My Mind"

Almost One Year Part 2

And now I will continue with some of my favorite posts as I approach the one year anniversary of the blog, and the second anniversary of my twenty fifth birthday. I mentioned to S last night that I was blogging for almost a year now and he was shocked, he is getting to that age where time starts accelerating... must suck to get old (oh wait!) So here we go with some more of my favorite posts, i narrowed in down for the second half otherwise I would be going on forever...

March 13, 2007 Another Note On Darwin- a very short post on one of my important observations regarding the survival of the fittest.

April 7, 2007 Mobey On My Pocket- I am going through a new batch of hires again, but nobody has topped the girl whose objective was to get a job to put "Mobey on her pocket." It is still a joke around the store, we laugh at this poor girl non-stop.

April 23, 2007 Super Duper Catch Up Post- A post that involves fat people in small clothing, revolving doors, escalators, Rollerblades, sunburns and much much more.

April 27, 2007 My Jeans Have Been Found- Finally, after months of being gone my missing jeans have been found, a conclusion to a saga... Or is it?

May 13, 2007 Fall Down Go Boom- It was the start of the summer and I was out on my Rollerblades, I always fall at least once each season, and it is always in dramatic fashion, this time it involved a stray dog on a leash and some people blocking my path.

June 3, 2007 When Good Nights Go Terribly Wrong- This post marks a turning point, or at least I hope a turning point in my life. It was S's Birthday and I did not behave, I lost my mind and went completely bonkers. Out of body experience pissed for no reason, and I ruined S's Birthday. Since then we have obviously made up, and I hope that I have grown from this, I have been better at controlling my temper and S and I have not fought since. It's a good sign, and I have been dealing with frustration much better.

June 7, 2007 Learning from My Temper- Again, another part of my turning point, where C smacks me upside the head with the obvious. I think I have learned and grown up, maybe one of the biggest lessons of the year.

June 18, 2007 Please Don't Get Naked in My Store- This is just a hint but the store is public, nakedness is not acceptable in public, please keep your clothing on. Yes, I am talking to you man in your underwear on my sales floor.

July 6, 2007 The Opposite First Date- I had a bad one earlier in the year, and this was a good one. Things didn't work out but we are still friends and it was one of the best first dates I have had.

July 31, 2007 Water Country, Water Country, Water Country... Have Some Fun- 30 year olds on water slides and Bible Lady Makes an appearance outside of the bookstore.

August 27, 2007 Pop Goes the Soda- It was right before Rush and it was a huge mess.

September 3, 2007 Blue Light???- DJ R got drunk, and he never drinks, it was hilarious. Now make sure if the light is about to turn blue you run!

September 10, 2007- Violence is the Answer, Isn't It??- I believe that if you are an idiot I should have the right to kick you. I think it is a good way for me to control my anger... by taking it out on the source of the anger.

October 19, 2007 Women and Men Are The Same Size- The most recent post on this list is about a woman who didn't understand the different sizes in the store, she drove me nuts.

And those are my tons of favorite posts for the year so far, I hope I have many more entertaining ones for you. I am sorry that I was not able to make the links work, but you can search by month or by title on the blog so you should be able to find them. Happy Anniversary Stuff on My Mind, who woulda thought you would last this long!

Almost One Year Part 1

This week marks the one year anniversary for the blog, its kind of weird to go back and take a look at what I have been through in the past year. I had a birthday, I went through Christmas in my old store, I got a promotion and my assistant got my old job. I started a new job, had jury duty, read over 20 books. I had fights, had first dates both good and bad, fell for a boy (we will see where that goes). The cats were sick, had some moments of being depressed, I got angry and happy, went on vacation, went on business trips, Britney even shaved her head, I guess it has been a crazy year for lots of people!

So what I decided to do this week, leading up to my birthday, and the one year anniversary of this blog was to revisit some of my favorite posts and maybe even comment on some of the posts I have made. Starting from some of my original posts back last November.

November 14, 2006 The Not So Artful Interview- this is one of my favorite posts, and I really wish that all of the candidates that were coming in for interviews would read this post.

November 24, 2006 S Wants to Be Entertained- This is when you all first realized that I was crazy, now you expect it but I think it caught a few of you by surprise at first.

December 6, 2006 Day 12.5 Who Invited the 80's Back- No seriously who invited the 80's back? It is not okay.

December 7, 2006 Day 14 I Can Share the Good News and Bibles- Where I announced my promotion and introduced my readers to the Bible Lady... yes she eats the bible!

December 11, 2006 Day 18 We Had an Emergency- Woman gets locked in bathroom- must save her by prying doors off hinges!

December 19, 2006 Day 26 I Don't Speak Crazy- This is a recurring topic and issue, but I am sorry, I just don't speak crazy so I don't understand what you crazy people want.

January 24, 2007 Note to self...- It is always a bad idea to read text messages when you are in meetings, especially at a new job. This was all S's fault.

February 8, 2007 Ojos Asi y Comiendo Mierda- I really, Really, REALLY hate it when people go to the gym and don't work out. The gym is not the place to have phone conversations and complete business strategies.

February 19, 2007 Cone Heads- After poor Bob had the unfortunate operation and had to spend two weeks wearing a cone around his head I discovered and ingenious plan to stop the idiots of the world! I would strap cones around their heads and force them to wear them around for extended periods of time. It really is a great idea!

February 21, 2007 My Favorite News Story- Britney Spears shaved her head, I named her my first real life person to get a cone, unfortunately nobody took me seriously and she has totally lost control, even today 7 months later. If only the Cone Head plan had been adopted worldwide.

Well there are a few months worth, I had a lot of favorites in December because it was such a busy time for me. I have some other favorites I will share in Part 2, coming up later this week

Funny Looks For Funny Books

One of the first books I read when I started riding the T to work was Getting Stoned with Savages. Remember I was getting funny looks on the train when I was reading this book, and I even left it on the train one morning in a fit of discombobulation. Well, I enjoyed this book and the only reason I read his second book first was because my old store didn't have Sex Lives of Cannibals in stock when I bought the second book.

So, the last book I finished reading was Troost's first book, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, this book is not about sex or cannibals, although it does remotely touch on these subjects, this book is about the author and his time he spend with his wife on an equatorial atoll in the Pacific. An atoll is a coral reef that reaches above sea level to form an island.

Not only was I reading this book on the train, and getting funny looks, much like the ones I received for reading Getting Stoned with Savages, but I also go very funny looks on the plane ride to Rochester from fellow passengers. I still don't understand the need to look at me funny for the books I choose to read. This title is a perfectly legitimate book about an authors travels in a foreign land. It looks at the cultural differences of this nation and how it effected the author. I learned things that I would not have otherwise known. No the authors writing wasn't exquisite, and no it was not an earth shattering book, but it is also not Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel, and I don't look at you all funny for reading that shit. Well, maybe I do!

Now, for those of you who don't approve of my previous choices, I am currently reading Shakespeare: The World as Stage, by Bill Bryson. This is not a usual selection for me, especially since I hated William Shakespeare in high school and college. But, it is after all by Bill Bryson and I do love Mr. Bryson, so when I only had 80 pages left to read of Sex Lives of Cannibals I decided to borrow it from the store. I am about 100 pages into the book and so far, so good, it is not my favorite Bryson, but it is entertaining and a fast read. I have even learned a few interesting facts about the playwright- like there is no place where his name is spelled the same. I guess when I finish I will have to let you all know how I feel about Mr. Shakespeare!

Remember When

I was very lucky as a child, I had the opportunity to travel on airplanes with my family on trips around the US. I have never really been afraid of flying because it was always a fun, exciting, and comfortable experience for me. I remember getting on the plane and being greeted by smiling friendly flight attendants (stewardesses back then) who would take an interest in every child as if it were there own. And really, why just smile when you could coo, gush, and give presents to these young travelers. Now obviously over the past 27 years I have grown older, I don't expect flight attendants and start talking me in baby talk, I don't expect them to go all mushy on me, as a matter of fact if they did I would be a little weirded out. i do however, expect them to be friendly and polite, and willing to help all passengers in a kind courteous way. It is a business after all, and just like I expect my employees to treat customers with dignity and respect, the airlines should expect the same from their flight crews.

Lately I have found flight attendants rude, unattractive, unprofessional and sometimes downright mean to passengers. The one exception to this rule is Jet Blue, they may not have the best on time flights, but they have always been respectful and helpful, plus they give you cool little TV's to watch.

1) Rude flight attendants- On my flight to Rochester for business yesterday I was confronted by a very rude flight attendant. This flight is a business shuttle flight with all suits and expense accounts, these are all people who fly on a regular basis. The flight attendant was blatantly absent as we boarded yesterday, and when she did appear she got on the loudspeaker and without any formalities or introductions told everybody to take their seats because we were late and needed to take off. She then went over the in-flight safety instructions and when she was finished she went up to people and yelled at those who were not paying attention. She even asked me if I knew where my flotation device was. I was of course snotty and responded, "Yes my seat can be used as a flotation device in case of emergency." I also pointed out the exit doors and then asked the flight attendant how many oceans we would be flying over on our way from Boston to Rochester! For all you geography nuts the answer is none so if the plane were to crash I don't think I would need the seat flotation.

2) Unattractive flight attendants- I am a gay man, but I have a problem with unattractive flight attendants. Its just the way it always was, I guess I don't like change, but shouldn't these women (and men) at least be mildly attractive. Isn't that part of the romance of flying?

3) Unprofessional flight attendants- The Delta flight attendants on my recent trip to Florida were wearing T-shirts and jeans. The looked sloppy and unprofessional. I didn't feel like I could trust these people if there was a sudden emergency on the plane. I know it is all outward appearance but it means a lot to people like me. I feel like I can trust a professionally dressed flight attendant more than I can trust a slob with a seat belt that is not attached to anything, you need to look the part for me to trust you!

4) Downright rude flight attendants- aforementioned bitch from my flight to Rochester was just not a nice person. After we got in the air a passenger inappropriately stood up a bit to early and started to move towards the bathroom. Nobody on the plane thought anything of it, but the flight attendant got on the intercom and berated this man for standing up to soon. He blushed and ran back to his chair, but I think he may have peed his pants on the flight. There was really no need for her to yell at him over the intercom.

Right now I am sitting in the airport terminal in Rochester, hoping that my flight back to Boston is a pleasant one, with charming and witty and attractive flight attendants. I always enjoy those flights. There are still great flight attendants out there- like my hilarious woman who cracked jokes with all the passengers on a recent trip back from Indiana, its just not the same as it used to be, I remember why flying was always an enjoyable experience, even on a bad flight. Soon they are just going to vacuum pack us and ship us on our way, that way they can fit 900 people on one little putt putt plane.

Bloody Eyes (and not for Halloween)

Well, this week was another hard week, it was busy at work, and it was especially busy because I missed two days of work because of a really gross eye infection. On Tuesday night my eye was a bit uncomfortable, I wasn't sure why it was bothering me but I did know that something was not right. I put a few wetting drops in my eye and since I was exhausted I decided that I would lay down for at least a nap, but probably more like a good nights rest. I slept fairly well but was aware of the fact that my eye was still uncomfortable.

When I woke upon Wednesday morning I noticed that I really couldn't see well out of my eye, and i was insanely sensitive to the light. I stumbled into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I could barely open my eye without pulling up on the eyelid and the lights were causing excruciating pain. I went into my bedroom fumbled for my phone and called into work, then I looked for the phone number for my eye doctor. It took me forever to find it with barely one eye, I called to see if I could get an appointment immediately and found that they weren't opened until 10:30. I left a message and went back to laying in the dark. I even had to turn off the TV because the flashing light was irritating. I lay ed in bed until 11:30 when the eye doctor called me back and told me that nobody would be able to see me today, I was in so much pin that I did not find this acceptable and asked if I could go to another office. They found a doctor who could see me in the afternoon in downtown Boston, but I needed a referral for a primary care provider, I don't have a PCP and was not in any position to do research to find one.

After a few phone calls back and forth they figured out a way to take me, and apparently everything was covered by my insurance. So I had a 4pm appointment, but I quickly realized that there was no way that I was no way I could get to the appointment by myself. So, the next thing I had to do was find a ride to the doctor, I started making phone calls, but most people I know have jobs or are in school full time so it is hard to find somebody who is available in the early afternoon. And to make matters worse the condition of my eye was not improving.

I finally convinced my sister to come and get me and drive me there, by the time she was here all you could see in my left eye was murky bloodiness, it was like a Halloween but a couple days early. It was really not pretty. It turns out that I had a corneal abrasion that got infected. The first night I had to put drops in my eye every fifteen minutes until 10:00pm then every 30 minutes and then every two hours throughout the night. I am still using the eye drops four times a day and they have me on oral antibiotics. I have regained a majority of my vision in my left eye and I can type and read again. I don't need to wear sunglasses indoors anymore, and overall things are much better. I had to throw out my contacts, and I can't put anything in my eyes for another two weeks but i didn't loose my eye. I was really worried it was going to fall out or something.

Living in the Moment

Is it true that the only way to true happiness is to live in the moment? What is to be said for thinking about the future? And how far into the future should I think? All i know is I have butterflies in my stomach when I am around him, and we get along so well and have such a great time.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

Necrotizing Fasciitis is an interesting title for a post, but I just finished reading Complications, and the last case in the book dealt with this bacterial infection commonly known as flesh eating disease (or disorder). This bacteria enters through a small cut, scratch or other break in the skin and begins to eat away at the underlying tissue. Yeah gross I know! In a number of cases by the time it is caught it has spread throughout the body, and since it doesn't respond to antibiotics it is very difficult to treat. The case in the book had a positive outcome, and the woman's leg was saved, although they did have to cut it opened and scrape out the dead and dying tissue along with a number of other things necessary to rid the body of this bacteria.

There are a couple of reasons why this story, and a lot of the book stuck with me. First of all this disease is gross and it freaks me out, secondly, the author writes this story with a passion that is rarely seen, and thirdly, I get bumps breaks bruises cuts and blisters all the time at work, what if I am unlucky and somehow end up with this bacteria in me. OK, am I freaking out, after all this is a fairly rare occurrence, but lets take into account the injuries of this week.

1) Cut and swollen thumb from moving a fixture.
2) Two open blisters on my feet from my dress shoes in the humidity of Florida
3) Cut on my pinkie from a halogen light that broke while I was changing it
4) A slice across my palm from a security tag I was trying to remove as a customer pulled the garment violently from my hand
5) I scraped knee from a violent fall up the escalator.

Now this is five visible and possible entry ways for this bacteria in just one week, which would average out to 260 opportunities per year. I am not loving my odds. Yuck Yuck Yuck. I know there are other things that I should be worrying about, hell like tetanus, but I have had my tetanus shot and tetanus will not eat you body from the inside out, with very little warning and devastating results.

I guess this is the sign of a good book, not only did I feel for the doctors involved in the case, and the patient, but I also I was worried for people who may end up with something as devastating as this, including myself. OK, maybe not a sign of a good book just a sign of my neurosis and self centered attitude.

The one final thing that freaks me out, the doctor guessed right and that is why they were able to save this girls leg. THE DOCTOR GUESSED, yes maybe it was an educated GUESS, but it was still a GUESS!

Oh yes and have I mentioned YUCK!

It Has Been A Week (or two)

This time last week I was in Florida with the family getting ready for the Wedding of my cousin J and his new wife L. I had known about the wedding for well over a year but in my typical style I waited until the last minute to get everything done. Its not like in the past 18 months I didn't have time to go to get my suit altered (or buy a new one) but I waited until the week before to do so. When I went to pick it up the Thursday before I was flying out it was not altered correctly and I was panic stricken and yelled at the tailor (very sorry sir it was the stress). I finally got my suit later that morning and made it to work only an hour and a half late.

To make matters worse last week, or the week prior to the wedding actually, I had one of the worst stomach bugs I have had in years. I missed a day of work because I was throwing up, and I got sick a few times at work the day before and the day after. A stomach bug and stress (and no eating) do not mesh well. I was a mess, an absolutely exhausted and disorganized mess when I was packing on Thursday, and by the time I got to the airport on Friday afternoon after working for 6 hours I felt like I had been run over by a Mack Truck.

I met my sister at the airport, and we argued over the best way for me to check my luggage, and also had to pull my suit out of my luggage so I could carry it on, just in case. We finally got all of this set, checked in, and went to go get something to eat. I was so excited to have solid food and so exhausted that I forgot about the stomach bug and had a Buffalo Chicken sandwich, (thank god that didn't backfire on me on the plane).

The flight was delayed, as I would have expected, after all it was the week I was having. The problem was we had a connecting flight in Atlanta so we were very worried that we would miss that connection and be stranded with very nice clothing and no wedding to go to. We made the connection, however, because the flight from Atlanta was delayed as well. After leaving work at 3:45 that afternoon, I finally arrived in Florida a little after midnight, and we still had an hour ride to my parents house in Tampa. When we got to the house I had to shower and shave and pull my suit out so hopefully the airplane induced wrinkles would fall out (they didn't). I got to sleep around 2:00 am but I was lucky enough to not have to have my hair done like my mom and sister in the morning so I was able to sleep until 11:00.

The wedding was beautiful, it took place at a mansion in Sarasota, and the service began outdoors at sunset in a gazebo overlooking the ocean. Granted it was hot in a suit in the hot Florida sun, but the wedding really was very pretty. Oh yes, and my family (as in immediate family) was by far the best dressed people at the wedding (excluding the bride and groom). We pride ourselves on that! The two days we spend in Florida where a whirlwind of activity, wedding, drinks with family, brunch, Tampa, Uncles house, and then it seemed like just a couple hours after we had landed we were back at the airport waiting for our flight home. Which left early and landed on time.

Usually a weekend in Florida is supposed to be restful and enjoyable, and while it was nice to see the family, this past weekend was neither. On the plane ride home I tried to cram my two mental health weekend days into a few hours while my sister typed up lesson plans on her laptop. That's the funny thing about the real world as you get older. I remember when we were kids and we would play card on the plane and goof around. Now we had to focus on the things we had to get done, my sister was worried about her students, and while I was desperately trying to relax I was planning my week out in my head. I was outlining the presentation I was expected to have prepared for a meeting on Thursday, I was worrying about a store visit that was supposed to happen on Wednesday. It is funny to me how things have changed, it seems like just yesterday I was leaving for college (that was nine years ago). Now I have been with my company for nine years, and my sister has her masters and is teaching 18 lil third grade munchkins.

We landed safe and my cousin and his girlfriend picked us up at the airport. He drove me home and then brought my sister back home. It was officially time to start the next week even though it was 10:30 at night. I needed to iron my clothing and get my bag sorted out with all of the things I needed and remove all of the things that I didn't need. I was in bed by 12:30 and ready to start my crazy week with payroll on Monday morning.

I survived the presentation, and the visit went well. I interviewed a few candidate for open supervisor positions because one of my supervisors left and one was promoted to a manager position at another store. I interviewed new candidate off of craigslist and did expenses. I hung up a new rack system in our back newly cleaned out space and worked on clearing the conference room of the fixtures temporarily stored there. On top of all of this I did the regular day to day things, and I am exhausted, plus I am working Saturday. Thank goodness I have Sunday off I am going to need to sleep a lot and recover from all of this fun. Wish me luck!

Women and Men Are the Same Size

Today I was paged to the front of the store, we have been having credit card issues and other things so I figured it had to do with that. But I was wrong, I walked up to the front and a customer assaulted me with questions. She wanted to know why two t-shirts that were the same size (as in Small) on the tags were actually different sizes (as in amount of fabric contained in the garment). I took a look at the two pieces and immediately noticed that one was a women's shirt and therefore was women's sizing and one was a men's shirt and therefore unisex sizing. I calmly explained that to the customer who told me that I wasn't answering her question. She wanted to know why they were different sizes! I tried saying the same thing differently... "Ma'am, these are two different style shirts, one is a men's style and the other is a women's style, since men and women are generally built differently the cut of the clothing is different, hence the size is different."

Nope, that doesn't work either she wanted the sizes to be the same. But sizes aren't going to be the same we carry infant stuff (1 size system), children's stuff (1 size system), Men's stuff (unisex sizing), women's stuff (women's sizing) and Juniors (young women's sizing)! Now would it be right if infant sizing was the same as men's sizing was the same as Juniors sizing, I don't think so! But I believe that what she really wanted was for me to carry only one size and style of t-shirt... I shall call this sizing system "Fat Cow Trailer Trash Bitch Sizing!!

Love the Book, Hate the Ending

A few days ago I finished reading Blindness by Saramago. I loved the book, it was hard to get into at first but the storyline was amazing. You get to see how an epidemic will effect the entire population of a country. This novel was incredibly thought-provoking. It is a deep commentary on society's blindness and the affects it has on all aspects of life. His characters are incredibly vivid, and their responses to the stimuli, both positive and negative, provided by their environment truly brought to light questions about what it means to be a human in the age of modernity.This blindness reduces the entire civilization to its primitive animistic roots. The lack of punctuation and extended paragraphs contributes to the story as the reader unconsciously reads the book at a rapid and panic stricken pace.

I loved the book as a whole, I however, was very disappointed in the ending. I was all tied up very quickly and neatly and some of the story lines were not completed. I find it hard to recommend this book to readers because as many fantastic qualities this book possessed it still lacked a strong ending.

I am reading Complications now, I am pretty sure the ending of this book will not make me crazy.

The Difference Between Me and My Customers

Last Friday I noticed something very disturbing, I noticed that my new Kenneth Cole shoes that I spent $180 on about four months ago were breaking. The leather was separating from the sole and I was very upset for a few reasons...

1) I paid $180 and I expected them to last
2) I wear them all the time and I had a hard time finding comfortable black shoes for my fat feet.
3) I needed to wear them for the wedding in Florida this weekend, and i have no money to buy new shoes

I asked a few people at the store what I should do, and most of the people said i had no chance exchanging these shoes for new ones. The girls at customer service thought I was nuts for even thinking about it. However, I called S and he told me to bring them back and demand that they replace them. So, I decided to go back to KC and see what they could do for me. On Friday afternoon, after work I took the train over to the store with my shoes on and a copy of my bank statement showing that I had purchased these shoes just 3 months before.

I walked into the store and looked for the person who seemed to be the authority figure, they are usually easy to pinpoint, I walked over to her and calmly explained the situation. She looks at my shoes and exclaims, "Oh, no that is not supposed to happen!" She tells me to go pick out a replacement and she will exchange them for me without a problem. I am elated because I was worried that I would need to buy new shoes for the wedding. I had a little bit of trouble finding a replacement that fit because I have short fat feet, but with some help from the wonderful sales person I was able to find a pair to replace my broken shoes. I took my old shoes off, handed them off to the associate, and put on my new shoes and walked out with a $30.00 credit. I have to say i was very happy with the entire experience, and very happy that I spent the money on the shoes, because the service makes it all worthwhile- ah yes and it balances out to $90 a pair.

Now, here is the difference between me and my customers. I can be a huge ass, but I was calm when I walked into the store to return my shoes, I calmly explained my situation and was sweet to the associate. When she agreed to accept these shoes as I return I thanked her and expressed my gratitude. My customers would have walked in, yelled, thrown the shoes, and when I would have been nice enough to grant them something, they would have wanted more. But I was happy with what I received, quite honestly I was expecting less! It is a big difference, but I guess it is a difference you can only appreciate when you work in the business.

Why I Don't Cook Reason #467

I went to go make myself some dinner, nothing fancy just some garlic bread and pasta. Sounds easy right, well it is but I am brain dead and that is the reason why I don't cook. I boiled the water and put in the pasta, while the oven was pre-heating. I put some garlic bread on a pan and wrapped in in aluminum foil, when the oven was ready I was stirring my pasta but I grabbed the pan and threw it in the oven. I ran to the other room for a few and then came back and continued to prepare, my pasta was done and so was my sauce, so I took a peek in the oven for the garlic bread. Well the pan was in there, but I seemed to have lost the garlic bread, I look around the kitchen, very confused, and there right on the stove top is a cylinder of aluminium containing my garlic bread, damn I am so lost sometimes.

I guess I am not as bad as S though, the other night when I was talking to him on the phone he reached into his oven and grabbed a pan without an oven mitt on, but there is still time for that to be reason #468!

I Hate Tori Amos...and Here is Why

Tori Amos was on the Tonight Show this evening and I felt floods of anger come rushing back. Now my extreme hatred for Tori Amos is not because I hate celebrities in general, I even like some celebrities, no I hate Tori Amos for a very specific reason... she is a high maintenance needy bitch, and I know this from first hand experience.

I have met her, as a matter of fact I ran an event for her at one of my previous assignments, I have met tons of celebrities because of these events we did. Everybody was great but Tori Amos. She needed special colored sharpies to sign with, she needed special bottles of water because she can only take one sip from each bottle, she can't put on her own chap stick, ah yes and she is fake, I promise you that she is a big fake who pretends to love her fans. In the elevator out of the store she was so exhausted and never wanted to have to deal with fans again, but as we exited a fan found her and she was nothing but a big fake full of smiles as her people ushered this fan away.

Anyway, I never say bad things about the people I work with, and honestly all of the celebrities and authors I have worked with from Tommy Lee, to Jane Fonda, to Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris and Jerry Lewis, even Wofgang Puck have all been amazing to work with, and every event was so much fun. I was miserable with the Amos event, and I can't even see or hear her music without the anger rising inside of me. It really was that bad. I haven't even mentioned half of the misery that is Tori Amos!

Thank Goodness...

Well, thank goodness the season premiere of The Office is on tonight. I need a laugh because I had a bad day. No customer issues just a bad day in general. There are some days when I get frustrated and I yell, there are some days when I get stressed and I freak out... and there was today when I was close to tears, and work never gets me close to tears. I am not kidding, it was a really bad day.

It started with the fact that I couldn't sleep last night, I could not fall asleep and when I did drift off for a couple of minutes I was quickly awakened by either a noise or a weird and scary dream, I think I got about 20-30 minutes of sleep last night and it was so frustrating. It was at the point that this morning I was counting down that if I fell asleep at this point I would get X number of minutes sleep. I finally gave up around 10:00 am and made an attempt to get my contact lenses out of my eyes. I just recently got contacts and have been having an immense amount of trouble getting them in my eye. Since I didn't have to be at work until 11 I had about an hour to try to get my lenses out, but there was no success.

I was so tired on the train that I was dozing off while reading my book (go figure) so I decided to put my Ipod on so that would at least have noise blaring so that I could be awake and not sleep past my stop. The first half of my day was a bit rough, I was dragging a little bit but I made it through and got a few things done. At around 2:00 however, my contacts started to really bother me, I spent about 45 minutes with a mirror in my office trying to pull, slide, pinch, and prod my lenses out but I was not able to and my eyes were bright red, and I had burst a blood vessel in the right eye. I decided to go to the bathroom and see if the lighting and mirror was better in there, my eyes were watering and I could barely open them, so when I walked in and plopped my ass on the sink I didn't see that somebody had wiped there really dirty hands on the sink, and now I literally had crap all over the seat of my pants. I was able to get my contacts out and then I noticed the crap, I was so unhappy that I almost cried and then I almost threw up.

I had a three o'clock meeting that I was just loopy for, and I had an offsite event this evening that went until 9:00pm, I could barely sty awake for either the meeting or the event, and I think I dozed off for a bit in my office.

Now that I am home, I can't really fall asleep, but at least I can get a good laugh because The Office is on, I guess there is something positive about this day.

And don't forget... Support the Rabid!

Pain and Punishment

During Rush I was bad, I didn't go to the gym, it was about four weeks and I did not work out. No running, no lifting, no nada. I was bad! So, last week when my friend DB called me and asked me to go to the gym I said that I would. Little did I know he was going to kick my ass at the gym so hard that I would hurt for a majority of the week. The words "You can do my workout" seemed innocent at the time, until i was struggling to do squats with a twenty pound weight. I was sweating and hurting and quite possibly crying but was really to tired to know for sure. And while I was sore at the gym, that wasn't the worst part, the worst part was Sunday through about Wednesday.

I woke up on Sunday morning and I could barely get out of bed, I was so sore, my abs hurt, my arms hurt, and I couldn't figure out a way to get comfortably out of bed. I had T-Rex arms, you know I couldn't extend them from the elbow. It wasn't pretty but I was still able to manage to have a decent day and move around and do normal things. Monday was a different story, Monday was Rush at another store, and it was a busy Rush, I was working on the floor all day, when I woke up I could barely put my shirt and tie on, as I was walking out the door I struggled to throw my bag over my shoulder, and the train ride was painful because there were no seats available.

When I got to Rush, I ended up working on the register, which meant I was lifting and bagging books. It is hard to lift and bag books with two lame arms. It was a long day, and about four hours into the shift I was in so much pain I had to excuse myself from the register and pop some Advil, which helped for a little bit, but I was still in pain. The pain lasted into Tuesday, but I forced myself to go to the gym and run, it was hard but I couldn't let this evil workout kill me, so I went to the gym, I was sore but I ran for 45 minutes and did abs and a light arm workout. It felt good to be back at the gym.

So on Saturday morning, I asked DB if he wanted to go to the gym, we did, he kicked my ass again, and as much as it hurt it also felt good. I guess I am a glutton for punishment, but hopefully in the long run it will really make me feel better.

Kitchen Confidential: Or Why I Could Never Work In A Kitchen

After ten years in retail I figured I had seen everything, dealt with all the crazy customers, and dealt with all the high stress situations of Rush and Holiday and very angry customers. However, after reading Kitchen Confidential, I realized that I would be absolutely miserable as a line cook, or a chef.

Here is the main difference... in a single day I can help 300 customers, but we always encourage all of our employees to focus on a single customer at a time, that way you don't lose your focus and you can help people more efficiently. I always try to help people as they arrive. In a kitchen you need to focus on helping multiple people, you need to make sure that all of a tables meals are up at the same time. Oh yes, and that is just one table, you actually have multiple tables at once, so timing is key, and multitasking to the next level is necessary. Whenever I go into a new job, I am confident I can handle it, I am generally confident in my abilities, but man I don't think I could handle working in a kitchen. That definitely seems to be really hard work with some really crazy people.

I have to say, I did enjoy the book, I got a new appreciation for the restaurant business. Anthony Bordain is an interesting character as you may know from his television show. Quite honestly, he comes off as a bit of an asshole, but a lovable asshole, who you are rooting for. It was a good read and a veryentertaining read. I am now on to reading Blindness by Saramago, it is much different than Kitchen Confidential, but i have heard many positive things about it.

It Is Dead

In the midst of my day on Friday, I went to sit down in my office for a working lunch. I was planning on re-doing my schedule for next week because I forgot that Friday was a Holiday a I needed to give a few employees that day off accordingly. I grabbed my sandwich from ABP (grilled chicken and mozzarella with tomato) and my water and pull up the schedule on my computer.

Now, my computer is so old it runs Windows 95. It makes odd animal noises when I turn it on in the morning, and incessantly clicks and growls. I am serious when I say that it takes a good 5-10 minutes to load a web page or an Adobe page. It is crazy and I have been complaining about how old and crappy my work computer is since I started at my new store. I was used to my old store where every manager had at least one new computer, but for nine months I didn't make a big deal out of it because all of the files, templates, and other things I needed were on the old computer, and because it didn't have a USB port or a CD ROM drive it was hard to get the files off of it.

Anyway, back to my story, I sat down with my lunch to do my schedule, and about 10 minutes into working on the schedule my computer unexpectedly shuts down with a weird buzzing noise and a puff of smoke. I was taken aback by this noise and the fact that my computer actually smoked. I was confused and not sure what to do so I stared at it for a few minutes before I tried to turn the computer back on. It didn't turn back on so i turned it around to see if the plug was loose, then i crawled under my desk to see if the surge protector was plugged in. All seemed to be in order, so I tried to turn the computer back on, at this point I have a really bad feeling, and as expected the computer does nothing.

I call my boss who is much better with the technology thing then I am, and he takes a look at it and literally calls the time of death at 3:04pm. There was no hope it looks like it overheated and considering it was 12 year old it was time for it to go. In my head I did a little happy dance, but then I was also slightly distraught, i had so many things on that computer that I needed. How would it be possible to live without my schedule template? How can i do payroll without my adder-upper? This was a major problem, but i was also happy at the thought getting a new computer, and not having to deal with an old piece of crap.

Ah, but my dreams of a new shiny computer were dashed when my boss told me to take the extra computer from M's office and hook it up. It wouldn't have all of the same stuff as I had on mine but it should work. I does work, and it does run on Windows XP so it is much nicer than what I had. It is a step up so I can't really complain! Now, I just need to recreate all of my work. I guess RUSH was ushered in by exploding soda cans and ushered out by a smoking computer. Just a few weeks in the life of managing a bookstore!

I Thought It Was Over

I thought that my Fall Rush was over, I made it through and we had a fairly successful Rush at my store. Then today my boss got that evil smirk on his face when he called me into his office. I knew this was going to be fun for him and not fun for me. He loves to torture me whenever he can!

When I got to his office, after dealing with a really obnoxious customer who didn't understand the meaning of, "I am sorry, but the last day for returns was Monday," he was smiling from ear to ear. I knew this was going to be good/bad! Oh, and it was, next week I have to go to one of our stores where the students have yet to arrive. In other words I need to put in three more days of RUSH at another store! Three more days of fun with students, three more days of long hours, three more days of RUSH.

Oh man, is he going to owe me for this one!!

Violence is the Answer, Isn't It?

Today was one of those days when I just wanted to kick all of the customers. I was tired and cranky, and we somehow managed to return close to $40,000 in textbooks. That's a lot of books that I shelved, help them find, sold, and now i have to take them back, re-shelve them, and probably return some to the publisher. It doubles the work and that alone makes me angry.

Now, when you are a complete ass about returning books that makes me even angrier. So I have decided that violence is the answer! Next semester I will let you return books if you are pleasant and kind, and made an honest mistake. If you bitch about anything I will kick you! if you complain about prices even as I am giving you money back I will kick you! And keep in mind i have to pay people to do these repetitive tasks so if you didn't return your books i could keep my overhead down and in turn keep book prices down. But you don't understand this so you deserve a swift kick in the shin. Ah yes, and if you don't have a receipt even after I told you three times you need one, I will kick you twice!

I know you are all reading this and going, god you are a cranky little man, and while this is true, I generally go into work in a fairly good mood, at least once I am caffeinated. But after the repetitive stress of... "but why can't I return this book" or "can I buy this today and return it tomorrow when the book I ordered online comes in" you want to scream. you are tired of it and you just want it to end, you want to throttle the customers but you can't. So you go home and blog and vent and you feel a bit better, plus tomorrow the answer is NO!

Two Short Blurbs

1) Remember when Britney was bald, it was a post way back when she went nuts and shaved her head. Well, that was less shocking then how HORRIBLE her performance on the VMA's was! Yeah I know I am guilty of falling into the pop culture trap but this was just horrifying, she ended her career because she can't even lip sync properly!

2) Even if your Uncle Bertha has a complication from a surgery tomorrow is still the last day you can return your textbooks at my store. I have been telling all of you this, and come Tuesday I GET TO SAY NO! I love Tuesday, it is the one time in retail that it doesn't matter what's up, the customer is not right and they can't make a return. It is sweet revenge!

No Clothing?

OK, so the weekends at my store have been a little weird, I definitely know that the students are back. If you remember last week I had a customer come in not wearing any shoes. He didn't understand why he needed to wear shoes, and I was confused as to why he would walk across the city without them.

Well, Mr. No Shoes was back today, and not only was he not wearing any shoes, but he was wearing a dress, I kid you not, he was in the store with no shoes on and wearing a dress. I am not going to pretend i understand what is going on here, he may be unstable or he may be a freshman rebelling from the standards of society that he feels are suppressing him, but I had to kick him out of the store again, and tell him that he needed to wear shoes next time he came in.

This wasn't the only crazy sight today, I was standing on the lower level, talking to a few of the employees when a girl comes down just wearing a bathrobe and slippers. Yes, she apparently decided to walk across campus wearing what she got out of the shower with to buy her textbooks. I guess it was laundry day. I just stared as she walked past me, and saw all of my employees do the same. I guess she wasn't really breaking any real rules, other than you seriously don't wear your bathrobe out in public, let alone to you campus bookstore. I let her shop, buy her books and leave the store, but I was still very confused.

I guess these freshman are just finding themselves and expressing their true personalities, as in they are all crazy!

New Toys

There are very few moments when I actually act like a valley girl, but when really cool technology comes outs I reserve the right to act like a fool, so here it goes...

OMG, Apple is coming out with new I-pods, I love my I-pod it is the best thing ever, it comes with me everywhere but the new I-pod Touch is so cool. All of the new I-pods except the shuffle will have video, the nano is really cute, an the classic seems to take the place of the video. But the Touch is on a whole other level, it is the awesome looking I-Phone without the phone getting in the way.
I want one, I need one, but is it really necessary to get one... the answer is a resounding YES! Damn you Apple you really know how to market your stuff.

Check out the new I-pods they are so awesome...

Controlled Chaos

Last night I got home fairly early, I made dinner, ironed my clothing, and posted to the blog, then I sat down on the couch and turned on the television. Within a matter of minutes I was laying on the couch, and just a few short moments following I must have been snoring. It was about 8:30 pm when I last looked at the clock. My phone rang several times, but I didn't wake up until close to 1:00am.

I moved to my bed, set my alarm, and went back to sleep. When my alarm rang this morning I felt well rested and ready for a crazy day. I got a good 10 solid hours of mostly uninterrupted sleep, which is very rare for me. I usually get about 3-5 good hours a night. I am very lucky that I got some good sleep last night, because today was definitely controlled chaos.

I love the term controlled chaos because it is the best way to describe a well organized and executed rush (and Holiday season). When you are working with the public there is always the opportunity for chaos, when you pack 1500 students and their parents into a store there will always be chaos, and then only way you can survive is by controlling it. You need to plan and organize and prepare and this is what I call controlled chaos. Today was controlled chaos, there were hundreds of students looking for books, and supplies, we had all of our registers running, and every single employees was working from open to close.

It was busy, it was crazy, but it went smoothly, it was the definition of controlled chaos. And you know what, it was fun. Deep down I do love Rush. When its done right, Rush is a fun time. A little controlled chaos really does get the blood pumpin!

S is Back!

S is back in Boston, S IS BACK IN BOSTON! Yes, the summer is over and the students are back and that also means that S came back to Boston to finish up his last semester in school! That makes me very happy!

Blue Light???

So over the past 24 hours, some interesting things have been said that I have witnessed, here are a few of them... they all made me laugh!

1) Crazy sold separately! Uttered by HCB in regards to a customer who was asking random questions about whether all of his books were sold together or separately!

2) Did a Disco Ball Throw Up All Over You? A customer in regards to the shirt that J@A wore to his other job the previous evening.

3) To Stupidity and Beyond... OK, I said this one regarding a really stupid customer who refused to believe that I was giving her the right information. There was a hand motion that went with this and we were all laughing in the aisles (see I am funny).

4) I have to run the light is about to turn blue! An unnamed drunk friend said this to me at 3:30 this morning. Are you confused? Yes so was I, this friend never drinks and had some to drink the previous night, and he was crossing the street, and the light was about to turn GREEN. This is by far the funniest thing I heard in the past 24 hours.

And one more thing that I didn't hear but I read off of our 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said Page A Day Calender...

Job Interviewer: Do you have any questions about the position?
Job hunter: What happens if I wake up in the morning and don't feel like going to work?

I am always amazed at what people will say!

No Shoes, No Service... No Really

Well Rush is here, and the sales haven't been great, but the customers have definitely been entertaining. I had a foreign customer yell at me in a language that I did not comprehend and then stick her hand in my face. I had a 17 year old snotty student throw a book at one of my employees because she thought we were ripping her off (I banned her from the store). I had a customer put a pile of books on hold come back and put another book in the pile, then pick up all the same books and ask to put them on hold again.

My favorite however, this weekend, a man came in in shorts a tank top and NO SHOES! I approached this gentleman and I asked him if he could put on his shoes back on and he informed me that he didn't have any. Well sir, I will need to ask you to put on shoes or carefully leave the store. As most people know it is dangerous to walk around in public without shoes on, we have escalators and glassware etc etc. Now, my store is not very close to housing, you have to walk at least a few blocks to get to the closest apartments. Or, even worse you need to go down to a t-station, get on a dirty train, come up from a station and walk into my store with NO SHOES! I mean the options here are just disgusting.

Now, this gentleman with NO SHOES, refused to leave my store when I asked him too, he said it was discrimination. Well, not sir it is not I am just asking you to put a pair of shoes on for your safety. I don't want for you to get hurt in my store (and then sue me). He reiterates that he doesn't have shoes so I kindly ask his size so that I could bring him a pair of flip flops that we sell, but he refuses to wear them. Since he refused to wear them I tell him once again that he is going to have to leave the store. We have a sign on the door saying you need to wear shoes sir, I know this may seem wrong to you but it is for your own safety, I need to ask you to leave, and please do me a favor and take the elevator and not the escalator. The last thing I need during Rush is a man with NO SHOES on getting his toe stuck in the escalator. He gets frustrated with the conversation, storms off and goes up the escalator.

Now, i hate shoes more than most people I know, but when I go out in public (as in outside of my house) I will wear shoes. The only time it is acceptable to not wear shoes in public is at the beach, or maybe in a yoga class. Otherwise, shoes are a necessity, and if you don't like shoes wear flip flops or sandals. Why would you think it is okay to go into a store without shoes on! I was very confused by this man. Oh, and NO SHOES is all in caps in this post to convey my shock, I kept walking around the store going, why would he wear NO SHOES out in public, and how far did he walk in the city with NO SHOES!

Pop Goes the Soda

As I have mentioned, Rush has pretty much begun. One of the important things is that we all report to work at 8am every day to get the store ready for business. I am not usually awake and fully functioning by 8am, so I need a little kick in the pants.

I generally can wait until I get to work to drink my one Diet Coke I am allowed to have a day in order to prevent additional kidney problems. I never keep soda in the house because I will be tempted to drink more than my single soda. But because of the crazy schedule I decided to buy a 12 pack so that I can have my soda on the way into work. I had a bunch of things in my hand on the way back from the supermarket today and I was talking on my phone. I got to the top of my three flights of stairs and was searching for my keys when I lost my grip on the fridge pack of soda and I watched as they tumbled down the stairs in slow motion and about halfway down the three flights cans started to burst and spray soda in every direction. Streams of brown carbonated liquid were flying out in every direction coating the walls and floor. This was quite possibly the funniest and messiest scene that has ever occurred in the stairway of our condo.

It was such a huge mess that it took almost an entire roll of Bounty paper towels to clean up! Ah, the joys of RUSH have begun with a bang, or at least a burst.

Row Row Row My Boat

I am really sad that summer is over, this past weekend was definitely the last weekend I had of the so called summer. So, I went with a few friends to make the best of the weekend, and we went out to Rockport to Kayak out to Thacher Island. We woke up really early on Sunday morning but by the time we all got together we were on the road by 10. We arrived in Rockport around 11 and found the kayak place, although finding a restroom was a bit more difficult.

We were out on the Kayak by 11:30, it was a great kayaking day, it was warm and partly sunny. We took a nice leisurely pace out past the straights and into the Atlantic, the ocean was nice and calm, we pointed our boats towards the two lighthouses on the island and enjoyed the day. It is very peaceful when you are out in the middle of the ocean, especially out off of Rockport, we are the only six people within sight. The last time I had gone kayaking off of the cape, it was packed, and the island you kayaked too was packed because there was a ferry that brought fat people with their coolers to the island. When we got to Thacher Island there were two people leaving and we were the only kayaks on the dock.

We pulled our boats up the dock and and walk around the island, there are two lighthouses on the island, and one of them is open for you to go in and go up to the top. It is abandoned but still in very good condition. We walked up the stairs to the top where you get amazing 360 degree views on the Atlantic, the island, and Cape Ann. It is as beautiful as nature can be. We also went out on the deck surrounding the lighthouse and took some pictures. It was a great sight and a great late summer adventure. We wander around the island a bit more and see the sights, we were on Thacher Island for over an hour and we only run across two other people (the caretaker and a friend).

Now the only problem with kayaking to an island is that you need to kayak back to where you came from. The current and wind was with us on the way back but the water was a bit choppier and there were a few more motor boats on the water so we had the fun of paddling through the wakes. We decided about one mile from the straights to race all the way into the bay and see who could win. We paddled our asses off and me and my kayak buddy A won but by the time we got there we were exhausted. The two of us have the worst form and the least experienced so we were exhausted. But the important thing is we won the race!

I just started kayaking this year with Dill when we were on the Cape and I am glad that I did because it is tons of fun. I can't wait until the spring and summer next year when I will hopefully have more time to kayak and enjoy. This will be another one of my favorite spring/summer activities.


This summer I have been having some work done on my mouth, I have bad teeth, and i hate the dentist and this combination has lead to some cavities and other things that need to be done, so since July i think I have had 8 dental appointments, and i still have, let me see-

1) Deep cleaning, scaling
2) Stitches removed from my gums following the scaling
3) One more cavity to be filled
4) Mold to be made for a whitening tray
5) Post whitening getting a chipped tooth filled

I am sure that after all of this I will have to go in for followups and eventually another basic cleaning in January, and once every three months after that. Now that i found a great dentist, who understands that i am horribly afraid of the dentist, and is very kind to me I really need to go because i never want to have to go through all of this again.

While the dentists have been great, i still have pain and soreness from all the procedures and I have been able to eat properly for weeks, plus talking at work following all of the procedures has been rough. it will be great to not have bleeding gums and sensitivity in my wisdom teeth, and a brighter, whiter smile will also be very nice. Ah yes, and probably starting in January i am going to try Invisaligns so that I can have straight teeth, my teeth all moved when my wisdom teeth came in, and if i spent 3 years in braces in high school i really think I should have straight white perfect teeth. I am so jealous of my sister who has and always has had perfect teeth with very little work ever needed, not even braces.


Yeah, i am sure I have mentioned RUSH before, it is when all of the students arrive back on campus, and wreak havoc on my life. OK, so they don't mean to make me crazy it is just a side effect of the students and their parents all mobbing one place at the same time.

The students started arriving this week, we are in the final preparation stages and while we are ready for the students physically, we are still preparing mentally for the onslaught. The sales in the store have been incredibly strong this summer, we have had some great tourist traffic, but now there is a huge switch in the business. Now the transactions take place on the lower level, it doesn't matter how pretty the floor looks, what matters is that all the stock is on the floor, we can't sell books and supplies out of the back stockroom.

The customer for RUSH is very different. They are stressed, they are starting classes, and they are shocked at the price of textbooks. We try to cushion the blow by providing used books and also a membership program that gets them a rebate at the end of the year, we also hold sales on other items in the store during RUSH week. This is because we have the potential to have a new customer for four years if they have a positive experience in the store on their first visit.

With so much going on it is amazing that any of us keep our sanity, we have two to three weeks of insanity and we all work very long hours and are busting out butts to get all of the work done, we even have a single day where we do $250,000 on 12 registers, this is one crazy day. Much like Christmas it is all hands on deck for the next few weeks and I bet I will have some interesting retail stories.

I Am Slow

My reading has really slowed down this summer, I think part of it is because it is really hard to read on a hot train, and also because unlike the winter there are so many other things you can do in Boston. Anyhow... I just finished reading The Know It All, its a book about a man who reads the encyclopedia from A-Z but it is much more than that, and obviously it is very interesting to see what he focuses on and what he learns.

The concept of the book seemed really interesting at first and a few former employees recommended it, so I decided to buy it. After reading it I realize what they were talking about; this book is unique, informative, and extremely funny. The author does a great job of intertwining random encyclopedia facts and entries with events in his own life. The stories in his real life are comical and interesting. He does everything from join Mensa and attend a crossword convention to being interviewed on Crossfire and going on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'.

The random facts were my favorite part of the book, he picks some of the strangest entries but ties them into the book flawlessly. Overall, this book was a quick and very enjoyable read with a unique setup and concept.

Oh yes, and I also love his last paragraph, it ties the book up so well, and it makes you think about what you have read. I am of to my next challenge, but it will not be reading the encyclopedia from A-Z!

Apparently I Should Live in London

S is away for the next two weeks, he is in Europe, which is worse than NYC because I can't talk to him on the phone everyday, this makes me very sad, but in his first post from London he mentioned that I should live there, I guess all things are short, which would work quite well for me, check it out...

No Seriously, That Is Just Stupid

I have been really good lately (since the outburst in NYC) at controlling my anger. So much so that both S and C are really proud of me. But today on my way home from work I slipped back a little bit, I was sorry for doing it but it needed to be done.

I left work today and went downstairs to the train, i put my pass in the machine and went in, I reached into my bag to grab my book and immediately realized that I had left my book on my desk at work, so I leave the station, and go back up to my office and grab my book, in about five minutes I am back down at the station and put my pass in the machine again. I walk forward but the gate doesn't open... WTF... I try again and look at the screen, which says "Pass Already Used" well yeah it has been but it is an unlimited weekly pass. I go to the attendant, the same attendant I see every day leaving work. I explain the situation and he tell me I have to wait 20 minutes, like seriously WHY? He told me there is no way for me to prove that it is my pass and it could have been passed to me.

No ass, I told you what happened and I see you every day. I am not lying please just let me in because I just want to go home. He tell me there is nothing he can do and that I have to wait at least 20 minutes. Well why does my unlimited weekly pass now suddenly have limits? He then recommends that I go purchase another weekly pass if I don't want to wait, UMMMM NO! I am not going to spend another $15 on a weekly pass, and I make him and half of the station aware of this. He then moves on to pretty much calling a poor tourist stupid because she can't figure out how to buy a pass on the new asinine machines, so much so that she looks at him and says, "Hey asshole, you know I can read right." At least I wasn't the only guy pissed off with this guy.

As he is distracted with this woman, a train approaches and I take my chance to mix into the crowd and jump onto the train behind another pass user. I don't feel guilty... and I hate the T.

The Sinister Staffer

I added a new link to the blog roll because I ran across it on Waiter Rant, and I thought it was very funny. She works for a staffing agency, and it reminded me of all the awful interviews I have had, like the ones I describe in "The Not So Artful Interview" and all of the crazy people who apply for jobs like the ones I describe in "Mobey On My Pocket." Take a look at the Sinister Staffer link in the blog roll and enjoy!

First Days Back...

The first day back to work always sucks, I have had three first days back so far this summer because of the trip to Indiana and my two vacations this summer. I did really well last week when it came to staying away from my store, I didn't go in once, and I didn't call. This is probably why today was one of the worst days back I have had in a long time. I had no idea what I was walking back into this morning, and my boss wasn't even there today to give me a hand.

There wasn't one major thing that made the day hard, it was just a number of things that were going on. I walked in this morning to three new employees sitting in my office waiting to be trained. Training is really hard as on a day when you are expecting it, OK well maybe not hard but it is time consuming. Paperwork alone takes at least an hour if you read the employee handbook with them. Then of course you need to give them a tour of the store, introduce them to people, get them a locker and a register sign on, get them acquainted with the rules and systems, show them how to ring on the register, etc. So I spent a majority of my morning working on the unexpected training. Of course the training was interrupted by numerous phone calls and on conference call that I needed to participate in because my boss was out today.

Once I finally completed my portion of the training and brought the new employees to there departments in the store, it was close to 1:30 and I needed to complete their paperwork and redo the schedule so that the employees knew when they needed to come into work this week. This took about one hour and then I needed to do the sales reports for last week. By this time I needed to run my 3:00 departmental meeting, this always takes about an hour.

So by 4:00 I had still not had a chance to read my email, or check my voicemail. I had to check in on the store and oh so many other things a manager needs to do on the first day back. I left at 6:15 this evening and I was exhausted. Tomorrow is going to be like my First Day Back Take 2. I wish I was still on vacation!

RIP Sparky

My Aunt's dog Sparky had to be put down today. He was 13. I still remember when they brought the little fur ball home 13 years ago. He was a Shih Tzu and I really thought that they should have named him Shihs-Kabob, cute huh! Instead they named him Sparky and he was the first dog I remember in the extended family, I now have my God-Dog Cody, and my own two cats. But back then it was just Sparky and he quickly became a part of the family.

As the years passed and people moved on and off to college, he really became my grandmother's dog, she was the one person who would stay home all day with him and they kept each other company. Unfortunately, he was having heart problems and the decision was made to put Sparky down today, he was having trouble getting around and presumably in pain.

I know that I was close to tears when Bob was sick, and crying when I had the choice of surgery of putting him down. Animals are part of the family and are in your heart. When they get sick it is like a member of the family is sick. I know that Sparky is in a happy place now in Doggie Heaven and I wish the best to the rest of my family who has to deal with the loss.

MFA- Hopper Exhibit

Yesterday I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see the Hopper Exhibit. I have been wanting to see the exhibit since it started a few months ago, but I have not had the chance. The exhibit ends in a couple weeks so I took the chance yesterday to go and I loved every minute of it. I am not an art specialist and I am not sure of the terms that people use to describe art, but I do know what I like. I have always found architecture beautiful, and even the simplest buildings are impressive in some way.

I like Hopper because his focus was always the geometric buildings and the simplest scenes, his most well known painting "Nighthawks" is iconic and yet it depicts a very simple scene.

There is a lot written about this painting, about the loneliness of big city living, about freedom and being trapped, about existentialism, and the overall human condition. Is this cafe welcoming, (note there is no entrance) what is the relationship between these people. You get to explore all of this at the exhibit as you examine this iconic painting hanging two feet in front of you on a gallery wall in Boston. This is what really amazes me about exhibits at the MFA, the paintings are actually there.

There was a wide collection of amazingly realistic paintings of all different landscapes, from the lighthouses in Maine, to a street in Truro and Provincetown two beautiful towns on the cape in Massachusetts. As well as many scenes from his native New York City. My favorite painting was "Early Sunday Morning."

This is a painting that depicts something that is rarely seen in a big city. It is calm but it also continues on forever. There is no sign of the chaos of the city, yet somehow you expect people to start streaming into the painting and the day to begin.

I was glad I got to enjoy my day yesterday at the museum, it was definitely one of the highlights of my vacation so far, and if you are in Boston between now and August 19, I highly recommend going to see this exhibition.