Friday, August 20, 2010

tradi-shuuuuun, tradition. TRADITION!!

When I started working here there were certain closers (night shift managers) who would have everyone collaborate and come up with five or so words, chosen at random or because of trickiness in their meaning or usage, which had to be worked into the closing announcements which we broadcast over the intercom fifteen minutes before closing. Everyone had their own way about it, but my favorite was when Kyle had to take up the challenge.

Kyle, when he finally left the store, struck out for Plymouth Plantation, where he donned a Pilgrim hat and grew out his beard, all the more authentic for being just a scraggly, patchy cloud under his chin. He was born to be a Pilgrim, I don't think he would mind me saying that. After his first season, he stayed on after the Plantation closed to visitors for the winter in order to spend a month making charcoal in the traditional, laborious way.

Kyle picks up the phone, hits the intercom button, and breathes in and out, collecting his thoughts. He quietly clears his throat and says something like "For many years, people, well, laypeople, I should say, have put a good deal less than what one might call rigorous thought into the subject of baleen, which is the flexible filtering structure found in the mouths of certain species of whales."
And he goes on, in excess of five or more minutes, to describe the various uses of baleen, such as whips, corsets, and finally, tools to crease paper. And so to books, and to this bookstore, and to the fact that the door will be locked in a moment or two.

I loved that.

I've been here a long time, and I often do miss the old days.

If you have one, tell me a good Booksmith memory.


Katie said...

When I first started at Booksmith, we were in the midst of a Card & Gift room clearance sale. There were these horrific baby doll heads that, when thrown on the ground, let out an annoying wail that lasted for about 10 seconds. No one was buying them for some reason, even at 75% off $5. Hm, I wonder why. Anyway, they were merchandised up by the checkout area.

One night, I was working a closing shift with Mark. There was absolutely NO ONE in the store except for one man who was in the middle of the store. So naturally, Mark and I decided it would be a great idea to throw all of the baby heads on the ground to see what would happen. So we did. The man came up to the register just as the babies' wails subsided.

"Can I try?" And he threw one on the ground forcefully and cackled. Then he did it again. And again.

"I think I will buy one for my wife," he said. "She's pregnant."

(Also, I have the remaining baby heads in my possession.)

Katie said...

P.S. great post!!

Paul Theriault said...

Katie, thanks yous.

I remember those baby heads, and unless I miss my mark, I'd guess that that man is paying child support right now, ruefully wishing he had never given the pregnant woman he loved a severed, wailing baby head.

Those were easily the worst product we have ever carried in the entire time i have worked here.

Anyone else with a memory, staff or patron?

Carl said...

i remember my first closing shift. paul you were there. and jen hirsch. and two others whom i can't place. i remember feeling like such a bad ass because i was working the closing shift.

i remember being trained to be a night manager by both jen and justin hoban on different days. and they both told me the complete opposite of one another. i think that was a gag.

i also remember one night as a closing manager, having to poke leon to wake him up because we all thought he was, well, no longer with us. (sorry leon).

Liz T. said...

Paul, my favorite closing announcements will always be YOUR closing announcements.
I remember one night when you told everyone that the store would start filling with water at exactly 11:00 pm and that you were sorry but anyone left in the store at that time would have to fend for themselves because we'd all be running for our lives. Your comic timing was spot on and it got everyone in the store laughing.

honestanimal said...

I remember time clocks.