Thursday, December 20, 2012

Getting My Festive On

I have to confess that I don't do The Holidays well. At least not lately. Not since I started working The Holidays at the bookstore.

Some see The Holidays as a time to gather with loved ones, prepare special meals, and prepare gifts to give to family and friends.

I work in retail. And yes, it's books, which I adore and are the reason I put up with a retail environment. This time of year, however, it's a lot more about volume and getting people through the line quickly, rather than the thoughtful kind of book browsing and discussion that I love. Dozens and dozens of people are asking questions and needing the exact right book, cashiers and registers are working at full speed, phones are ringing off the hook. If there is a (rare) lull in the busy-ness of customer interactions, we are all frantically racing around trying to straighten and restock shelves so we can be ready for the next onslaug...uh, wave.

Customers are what keep our doors open, and we all try to be upbeat, even as we try to answer constant questions, gather books for customers and ring efficiently at the register. I don't think I can convey how exhausting a day like that is. For me, anyway.

The Holidays are tiring.

The Christmas music we have playing is slightly stale, sometimes strange, and does not inspire a merry disposition in this bookseller. There is a version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer that is arranged and sung with the song Tom Dooley. Yep, that's Tom Dooley, that peppy song about a murderer who got hanged. So festive. Some of the songs sound as though they were sung by the Lennon Sisters. Nothing wrong with the Lennon Sisters...50 years ago. There's a song that has lyrics that start..."Mamacita, donde esta Santa Claus?" Um...I guess they provide a little comic relief.

A friend of mine is going through cancer treatment. She's young, has school-age children, and this should not be happening to her (not that it should be happening to anyone). She is blogging about it. I hate to use the word inspirational, because that sounds sappy and lame, and she is anything but those things. She is a stand-up comedian, fiercely sarcastic, and brings her humor and attitude to her blog...and to cancer (Weird Cancer Guy, be gone!). (Keep an eye out for more about her blog in a future post of mine!) One thing she does in her blog posts is list Three Positives...and I so appreciate that she is doing this.

During The Holidays I can easily lose sight of The Positives in my life. She, through her blog, has been reminding me how important it is to be aware of the positives.

So. Three Positives for me about working The Holidays in retail:

1. Customers have been, almost all of them, really patient and polite, with us and to other shoppers. I know that shopping during The Holidays is hard too.

2. People are buying books! I love seeing people who buy some of my favorites, either for themselves or for others. I get to talk with people about books, like the woman who was buying GONE GIRLicon and when I commented on how much I liked it, asked me what I've been reading that I really like. (THE DOG STARSicon by Peter Heller is what I told her. Really great. There will be a blog post about it.)

3. Most of my co-workers are fun to work with and can joke around and they really make the intensity of The Holidays bearable. They've also readily pitched in when I've asked for help, even though I know they've had tons of things that have needed to be done themselves. I am grateful for their humor and work ethic.

4. (Do I get extra credit for doing four?) It's almost over. Yes, after Christmas Day there are clearance sales and many many returns (we really believe in gift receipts! please get gift receipts!), so the busy-ness doesn't dramatically drop off after Christmas. But the end is in sight. Hallelujah.

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