Saturday, July 19, 2008

Falling Up

Many people believe working in a bookstore is a nice quiet job where you can do a lot of reading. Not true. By the way, if you do see this, ask for a manager.
But, as I was saying, there is a lot of work that goes on that customers never notice. Ever wonder how all those books got on the shelves in the first place? I'll tell you how. 3 weeks before a store opens, the entire staff plus staff members from other stores in the company are working six day weeks, 10-16 hrs a day putting all those books into place, training the new staff members and party-ing hard on Saturday night!!!
This is called a "sort" and is the foundation of each stores aura. Very deep. I have "a million" sort stories, but the following is my favorite. It happened in San Jose. (Insert mysterious music)
This store had posed a number of small problems throughout the sort process. We would loose hours of work at a time due to the fact that the shopping area was not yet fully constructed. Random fire alarms and gas leaks causing evacuations. Roads that existed yesterday, gone today. Time was a wasting!
This store was being built with an escalator, which was a first for all off us so we cautiously used the freight/handicap elevator to get hundreds of boxes of books to the second floor. Lo and behold a week and a half into the sort, the elevator went on strike! We'd already lost far too much time to delays and had already planned an 8hr day for the following Sunday to play catch-up. We had no choice. Hello Mr. Escalator.
Well things were actually going quite well. We would fill up a dollie with 4 boxes of books. Park the wheels on one step and then stand on the third step. But we were still loosing time, only getting about 20 boxes up the stairs in the time it would take the elevator to get twice that.
So we kicked it up a notch.
We put all the boxes that were to go upstairs at the entrance of the escalator. A team of people to fill the dollies. A team to take them up. And a team to unload at the top. SWEET!
We got so good at this that there was no waiting anywhere. Dollie, step, employee, dollie, step, employee, dollie, step, employee...There was no wasted space.
And then it happened. Someone tripped at the top.
Have you ever wondered how a domino feels when it sees certain demise in its wake?
I was just past the halfway mark heading up to the top. Helplessly watching as my co-workers at the top were pulling people off of one another to the left and pulling boxes to the right. Knowing eminent death was just moments away. I was trapped. It was time to accept my fate.
Just two more people to go! I'm going to die!!! And then...everything stopped.
It finally occurred to someone at the bottom of this circus to hit the off button.
Nothing more than minor abrasions and bruises to about a half dozen people. The books were evidently easier to save than the people, not the least bit of damage to any of them.
Let's open another store!!!


Anonymous said...

I tell people who start at the bookstore: "Everyone thinks you sit around reading and petting the cat. Well, you're not allowed to read, and there is no cat."

Nicole Maddock said...

I say we open a bookstore where everyone's allowed to read and has a cat.