I have done something unexpected, something I didn't plan to do ever again. I have taken a job. Now, please don't misinterpret me. I work very hard as a self-employed person and make a decent living as a freelance writer/editor. I love my freedom and my schedule. However, here in my new town I am a little too cut off from other people and the best way to make new friends is not to hide in your house. I would not have gotten a job for any other reason than for the sheer social content. The pay and the easy access to books is just gravy.
The bookstore in town happens to be an independent one, my favorite kind, and a small business run by two hardworking people. Since August before they made a move to a new location I've been talking to them, and here, as the holidays head toward us like a line of hefty children running for the cookie jar, they finally came-a-callin'.
Many of the things that I did not plan on doing came to me after I'd decided I did not want to do them. That's how I began doing reviews for the California Report. I was sure that I was simply too "unknown" and so when they emailed me with interest the first time, I didn't believe they meant it until they called up with a deadline and a word count.
While I'm grateful to have the job, there is nothing more humbling to a big know-it-all like me than taking a job in retail again. I've gotten comfy knowing how to do what I do without anyone looking over my shoulder. I haven't had to please the public in a long time. Today I had to do all of that. My boss is a kind and patient woman, however. And fortunately bookstores are different than other forms of retail--people come to you seeking knowledge and you trade in ideas and stories more than "merchandise." I love being around books, being on the cutting edge of what's being published, and of course the employee discount. But I love bookstores most because they are a great way to get to know your community. In the 3.5 hours I spent training today I learned some personal details of one customer's clearly vitrolic divorce; about the schoolteacher who was bitten by a mountain lion in the 1900s and died of rabies; about some politicking in a local city office that is getting heated.
It was work and it takes awhile to acclimate to standing on my feet, but overall I felt productive and I got human contact, which I desperately need. All in all I think it will be good for me, but it's definitely a shock to the system after nearly two years of working in the comfortable privacy of my home.