I hope every bookstore has an employee as great as our PJ. She has worked for us for seven years, since she was 15. We said goodbye to her today as she readies to go to graduate school at St. Andrew’s in Scotland to get her Master of Letters in Medieval Studies.
I looked up PJ’s records at the store and it was like seeing her grow up with books. The first book she bought was Pony Pals: The Saddest Pony. The last book she bought was Cicero: Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician. In between those two books were James Herriott, every book Tamora Pierce ever wrote, just about every fantasy novel in the young adult section as well as every horse book we carry. Along the way there were history books about pirates, the English countryside, Anita Shreve, all the Harry Potters and so much more.
The staff came together today to toast PJ and wish her well. We had blueberry cheesecake and champagne. We shared stories about a shy teenager who would hide in the back room alphabetizing and who blossomed into an outgoing, funny and caring young woman. PJ has a great sense of fun. This would explain why practically every Christmas there would be a day where we’d make her wear ribbon all day. And she did, smiling the whole time. I remember the first time she worked the register alone. It was early December and the store was busy and I said, “PJ, you’re on the register today.” Her eyes widened in alarm and then she got to it. A small case of nerves saw her ringing up her first customer’s credit card for $5524 because she typed in the credit card number. That’s why we have the void button and all was well. PJ was a project person. She loved to stay long hours with Elizabeth and rearrange whole sections of the store or organize the basement.
We’d seen PJ take classes at the University of Vermont since 10th grade. Always getting impossibly good grades while still working not one but two jobs during school. PJ has been smart enough to get jobs doing things she loves to do. She’s a reader, so the bookstore was a perfect fit, and she’s a rider so she’s always worked at a barn. PJ was a dedicated student who actually loves learning. So it was no surprise that she’d continue her education past her bachelor’s.
When PJ told me she was going to go to graduate school I said, “Where?” When she told me Scotland my only question was, “So, I guess you won’t be working Christmas?” We will miss her and wish her nothing but the best.
And honestly, we couldn’t be prouder.