Monday, July 18, 2011

My time on the Borders - A eulogy for the big red bookstore

It would not be an understatement to say being hired at Borders was a watershed moment in my life; it may be the watershed moment. When I was hired in June, 2008, I was one of the nation’s many under employed. I’d done a number of odd jobs since I graduated from college but nothing that really let me find my stride. I fantasized about going to grad school to become a debate coach but I didn’t have the discipline I needed to rework one of my undergraduate papers into a passable writing sample. Landing that job at Borders had been a high point for me in a year, and ended what had generally been a long losing streak post College.

At Borders I found a home, and even if it wasn’t the best fit all the time, it was a safe harbor from which I could launch into the next part of my life, whatever that would be. I was hired as part of a “sort,” and industry term where a store is inventory, sorted, and moved/closed/opened. In this case it was a move to a brand new facility, it was a rush. It was an ahead of schedule ass kicking. Starting with sorting and alphabetizing shelves and moving them to large book carts that make the standard library cart look like a smart car. Once we had the books translated onto carts, out came the plastic wrap. They were Giant industrial roles that you could literally run around, wrapping them up, I loved it! After we had the carts wrapped up we loaded them onto trucks while over at the store another team unloaded them and shipped them up the freight elevator to our new digs, a huge empty set of bookshelves in fixtures in the new wing of the South Center Mall. Over the next few days we unboxed, unload, and placed millions of units of merchandise on the empty shelves filling it until they were bursting. Then we opened in the real fun began.

I really started to love my job, instead of just enjoying, when the customers came to the new location. I was quickly promoted to Bookseller, which meant I got to help people find books instead of being stuck behind the registers shilling rewards cards. Talking to people about the books, music, and movies, was awesome, being able to recommend the perfect item to a customer was a fantastic rush. I had people leaving the store with hundreds of dollars in merchandise based on my recommendations, it was a huge rush. It’s that rush, and love of my product that led me to stay in the job for as long as I did.