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2:11 pm - Sat 7/05/03
People like me, and people who actually are me.

People like me, and people who actually are me

SAT 7/05/03 8:55 am

Just dropped a couple more journals off my "favorites" list.

Their crime? They don't update enough. I like having a window into other people's lives, but with these two journals, it's become more frustrating than anything–I want people to update at least a couple times a week, and the journals in question have fallen to maybe once a week, if that–and I don't need to seek out frustration; I get enough of that at home, if you know what I'm saying.

(Basically, I want someone like me, who updates often and at some length, only funnier and more interesting.)

Well, I wasn't nuts about having to work on the 4th–It would have been really nice to have a "long weekend"–so I was pleased when I got to the store and saw a note saying that we'd be closing at 9:00 (We're typically open till midnight on Friday). It wasn't a day off, but it was "better than a poke in the eye", as I like to say.

But the joke was on me, it turned out--We were closing at 9:00, but the employees had to stay after and shelve till our regular closing time (For reasons I don't completely understand, but having to do with a new backroom organizing system, there's this huge logjam of books in the back room. But let's be honest–for one reason or another, there's frequently a "logjam" of books in the back room; this is just the latest in an ongoing series of crisis situations.There are so many "emergencies" at this bookstore, you'd think you were on an episode of E.R.).

I wasn't very happy (Tim's closing announcements–"In observance of the holiday, Borders will be closing at 9:00..."–made me ask, with some justification I think, who exactly was "observing" the holiday, since the customers were already "observing the holiday" by being at the bookstore, and we were having to stay the full shift anyway?).

If it had just been a regular day, I might have been a little "grumbly" about it, but I could have dealt. But to get my hopes up with the message on the door, only to not just dash those hopes, but then tell me I have to spend hours doing the most tedious job there is to do at the store...well, like I said, I wasn't happy (I would rather have just had the store be open the whole time).

(Obviously, shelving has to be done at a bookstore. And it really shouldn't be that big a deal, under normal circumstances. The trouble is, Borders can't or won't pay for the staffing neccessary to service customers, shelve books, and keep the store in order, all at the same time, and they never want to spring for the overtime neccessary for dealing with extraordinary situations, like a complete overhaul of the backroom. So instead of things just happening, the way they should–regular, and thus manageable, tasks to keep the store in order–things look like crap for a long time till it reaches critical mass, then there's a major wringing of hands about the situation, a Herculean effort to get things up to snuff, which works for a few days--maybe a week–and then things go back into the dumper, and the cycle starts anew.)

Anyway, we closed at 9:00, and John O. called a little meeting to tell us what he wanted to have happen.

My dinner break was at 9:00, so when I got back out on the floor at 10:00, people had been doing recovery–putting books back on the shelf that had been browsed by customers–and shelving for an hour already.

I shelved with Mandy for awhile–Have I mentioned Mandy is really cute and fun?–then at 10:30, John O. announced that we could go, two hours ahead of schedule.

Don't know what the deal was–whether we got through what he wanted us to do ahead of schedule, whether he felt bad about keeping us, or what–but I didn't really need any detailed explanation at that point.

Afterwards, I found myself thinking about how I'd let circumstances jerk me around emotionally. I had made myself unhappy most of the day over nothing.

I do that a lot.

Shame on me...

But it also made me think about my ongoing relationship with Borders.

I've said in here, more than once, that I "don't like work", and I'm not kidding about that (Sorry all you Puritans out there. That's just who I am); I have a tough time with the low pay, the tedium, and probably more than anything, the sense that my life is dribbling away doing something I don't want to do, being someplace I don't want to be (I feel that at Borders, but to be fair, I've felt that with pretty much every job I've ever had, Schuler Books included).

But I've come to realize that my relationship with "work" is more...complicated than just "I don't like it". Yes, I definitely have "work issues", but at the same time, I've come to realize that I need work–for the money, of course, but also for the companionship, for a sense of "my place in the world" (It was weird to come here and be out of work for a month-and-a-half, after being employed at Schulers for the previous 11 years), and also for a general sense of purpose.

Borders barely fulfills the "money" requirement; Not only am I never going to get rich at Borders, but because of my low-wage, any downturn in my circumstances could run the gamut from "painful hardship" to "unmitigated disaster". The idea of saving, dating, getting married, etc and so forth, is just inconceivable (As I've detailed in here, I'm not even comfortable having a pet, because of the potential cost of upkeep).

On the plus side, I have a hard time imagining a group of people I'd enjoy more. After 11 years at Schulers, I felt like the people I worked with were my surrogate family, and I've become very fond of this group as well. There's just something about "bookstore people" that I like, I guess. In "the real world", it's the closest I've ever come to finding a group of people who me.

But right now, the biggest problem I feel like I'm having with Borders is that it makes me feel actively uncomfortable about "my place in the world", and if you define "a sense of purpose" as "something you do that you feel is important, that contributes, that makes you feel good about yourself"...well, in order to have that feeling, I have to actively distance myself from Borders. I work at a poorly run, poorly organized, downright shitty bookstore, and furthermore, while I like the people I work with, I don't think I've ever disliked the company I worked for more; I think the policies that come down from corporate make it impossible to run a decent, well stocked, well-organized bookstore.

And frankly, I don't think they care.

And it's been something of a surprise to me to discover that I do.

It's an interesting place for me to be in–I'm an actor, so obviously it's not my "life's purpose" to work in a bookstore, but by the same token, the reality is that I've worked in bookstores for 13 years now; I may feel like an actor "playing the role" of a bookstore clerk, but after all this time, the "role" has rubbed-off on the actor who's playing it.

Well, this could go on and on–And I know you're thinking "Like it hasn't already...?"–but frankly, I've lost interest.

This probably all boils down to "I'm just not going to be satisfied till I'm acting for a living, and looking to Borders for loads of job satisfaction is downright goofy of me, so I'd better hurry up and be successful already...".


1:45 pm

Got back from lunch with Cary and Kay about an hour ago.

We ate at a place in Los Feliz–The 647?–where we've eaten a couple times before (I was very well-behaved, and had a turkey burger with a side salad. I'm trying to lose weight before making my special guest appearance back in Lansing in September).

As always, I just felt good in their company (Though felt that "I can't stop myself from talking" thing that bothers me sometimes. I'm just starved for that attention, I guess). I know I've said it before, but thank God/Buddha/The Universe/Whatever for Cary and Kay.

Told them about the commercial shoot in more detail (I think mostly for Kay's benefit, since Cary had read about it in here), and then about the meeting with Keith Wolfe. Basically, I told them all the stuff I've been writing about today.

I learned from them that Jonathan L. got a pilot for the Discovery Channel, as the host for something called The Miracle Hunter.

That's an exciting development. And it got me a little fired-up, which is a sign that something in my basic makeup has changed; I think years back, if I'd heard this news while still back in Lansing, I would have been pretty jealous. But now it's just exciting, because it shows me that success isn't just something that happens for some special rarified breed, but to people I know.

People like me (And in the case of the HBO commercial, people who actually are me).

Kay related to my "If only I could just get my foot in the door" sentiments, because she's feeling the same thing in her business; She's good at what she does, she just needs the opportunity to show people (She's trying to start up a photo restoration business in her home).

I asked Cary for an Oracle update (I've been sort of following Oracle's attempt at a takeover of Peoplesoft, the company Cary works for), and he said that he doesn't think it's going to happen, which made me happy; I'm sure Cary would recover in high style from a shakeup at Peoplesoft, but I wouldn't want him to have to. always, I feel like there's more to be said, or at least more I could say, but I think instead I'm going to read a little more of Life of Pi–I'm about three-quarters of the way through it–and then settle in for my pre-work nap (Since I showered and changed for Cary and Kay–that's how much I care–I can just get up right when it's time to leave).

Hope you all had a festive fourth, and are enjoying your "long weekend" (I'm not jealous, I swear...).


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