Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/bookscapade.mp3 or read on…
My long-ago friend Suzy used to chat a lot, but she would suddenly realize the self-centeredness of it all and exclaim, “But enough about me…how’s my hair?”
You had to have been there.
Anyhow, it’s a lot more fun to talk about my customers and bookish acquaintances than to talk about myself—although, don’t get me started ’cause I can do that, too.
I could—and should—do a column about each of the people who lighten my door, but it would take thousands of columns and it’s unlikely I’ll live to be 145.
I guess, though, that I could write about these folks as if I might live to be 145. Here goes:
The two-dollar-book woman who arrives a couple of times a month just at closing time, carefully and slowly selects a stack of volumes from the $2-each stand outside the shop. She always makes me late getting home, but I unblinkingly appreciate the fact that I’m making any money at all in this delightful dreambusiness, so I pause to enjoy her presence.
The two-dollar-book woman walks very slowly and somewhat painfully, sometimes with a cane, but she never selects the lightest books to make her journey smoother. She’ll pick a gigantic dictionary, a heavy stack of first-edition novels, just about anything that perks her up. Then, clumsily, never asking for help, she struggles to pull ajar the chiming door and manipulate her cane and armsful of books to my counter. She pays from a bank envelope full of cash, grunts to hold the double-bagged purchases, and wends her way out and into whatever time zone she occupies at night.
I don’t know anything about this customer except by Watson/Holmes deduction, and I hesitate to describe her physical appearance or relate additional observations because it might imbed a misleading image of her class/age/race into your mind and divert your attention. All I really want to know, all I really want you to know, is that she is as important to my daily shoprunning as the customer who just purchased an old copy of Moby-Dick or a signed first edition by William Faulkner or a beat-up copy of Archie Comics.
There’s something to learn from each and every person who dares enter my Museum of Fond Memories, and these persons range from unreconstructed redneck literati to uninformed beginners to overeducated nonstop talkers to awed tourists to kids standing wide-eyed taking in the overload of visual information on the floor, shelves, walls, ceilings to frantic parents trying to find a copy of the assigned book-report volume their kids must have by tonight, to casual gazers who just want to enjoy the time machine and remain as long as I’ll allow them. And more.
Now and then, if it’s ok with you, I’ll talk about other customers and characters, but don’t worry—I won’t out you, I’ll just edify you should you happen to sneak into one of the columns. I’m not looking for Bad Customer, I’m just looking for more adventure—the adventure that comes from looking closely and finding the bookie heart in each and every literatureland explorer
(c) 2011 A.D. by Jim Reed