THE JOY IN MY JOB
Most of my daily activity at Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories
consists of listening to people and often referring them to other trusted
merchants and institutions.
This is a free service, so you can understand why I seem grateful
whenever someone actually purchases something.
A typical day at the shop frequently includes happenings such as these:
A customer tearfully recalls how much the “stuff” at Reed Books reminds
her of the “stuff” she owns, and of her lost family. She smiles, reminiscing
Visitors from Tennessee, staying at the Tutwiler Hotel, remark on Birmingham’s
beauty. They love the bookstore and the streets. I wish Birmingham natives
could see the city’s beauty through most visitors’ eyes.
A little girl reads and collects Nancy Drew books. We chat about Nancy’s
resourcefulness, determination, elegance, intelligence, wit—and wish our
favorite movers and shakers possessed these qualities.
Two young women want an inexpensive place to eat. I send them to the
New York Deli around the corner.
Two more women want images of old Birmingham to display at the Greenbriar
retirement facility. I send them on their way to What’s On Second, a block
or two over.
A scruffy gruff non-customer is looking for a cigar store. I send him to the new
store on Second Avenue that replaced the mysterious Bohemian Grocer.
One customer wants a reading lamp—not antique or expensive. I send him to
Standard Furniture Company, which has been across the street for most
of a century.
A street guy is trying to sell a pair of snakeskin boots. I refer him to Goodyear
Shoe Hospital across the way, which has also been there for nearly one hundred
years. Maybe Rhonda will know what to tell him.
Tourists are looking for things to do and places to shop in Birmingham—they
don’t believe the staff at the Redmont Hotel, who told them
there was nothing to do Downtown. I excitedly tell them all the
wonderful things to do and places to go Downtown, and send them
first to Sojourns, Melissa’s fair trade import gift shop next door.
They return later, thanking me for giving them a great day.
A New England publisher calls and wants to vet a manuscript about the 1963
Birmingham horrors. I send him to Dr. Glenn Feldman, my son-in-law, who is
a scholar of the Civil Rights Era.
One customer wants the exact lighted Santa Claus toy he had as a child, and I
find him one on the internet. He is so excited I fear he will faint.
A young woman brings in a bag of books her aged father wants her to sell. My
offer is generous, but the father has inflated ideas of the books’ worth. She
pleasantly packs the books and patiently totes them back home.
A customer donates a bag of DVD films. She knows I won’t throw them away.
Two women bring in double bags of useless textbooks and donate them. I politely
express my gratitude, then quietly donate them to the Salvation Army Thrift Store,
so that they won’t have to lug them a couple of blocks back to their car.
In the early afternoon, it begins to rain, so I patiently bring in the book rack and
record rack, so that my precious cargo won’t get wet.
PS: I actually sold some items today. I realize that the price of being in this
business is voluntary service as bartender, coach and triage manager.
Making an income is in there somewhere
© 2010 A.D. by Jim Reed