Everyone Gets Punchy This Time of Year

Josie Leavitt - December 16, 2014

‘Tis the season for booksellers and customers to get a little loopy from the pace of the holiday season.  Here’s how you know the season is in full swing:
– We laugh more. This is a great defense mechanism and one that makes work a little more fun. Instead of panicking at the UPS man whose cart is so full with book boxes his tires are actually going flat, we just start laughing at the enormity of his delivery. We chuckle through receiving 20 massive boxes, trying to call all the customers who have gotten their special orders, shelving all the books and restocking the shelves that are now looking bare. Laughter helps in so many ways, even if it’s not totally appropriate and we’re just laughing because someone made a silly noise while eating a cookie.
– Book requests from customers get very specific this time of year and can be challenging. Someone came in yesterday and asked for a book “…about a cheetah who teaches an adult something special and doesn’t die at the end.” She had the good grace to chuckle a bit when asking this. I’m not sure if my face betrayed my total lack of ideas, or if she knew this was a tough request. (We never found a suitable cheetah book, but I did convince her to shift gears and get My Family and Other Animals  by Gerald Durrell.)
– This time of year booksellers are always hungry. Most booksellers tend to get to lunch far later than they should on a regular day, but during the holidays, when lunchtime is a busy time at the store, we push lunch back even more. Yesterday, Elizabeth and I didn’t eat lunch until just after 5 pm. This is not good. Going that long without food just means that you’re brain isn’t working as well, so requests of cheetah books seem unnecessarily difficult and amusing. Plus, my stomach was growling loud enough that customers heard it and told me to go eat!
– When there’s a lull, it can get silly. For some reason, I’ve been delighting in throwing balls of paper at unsuspecting staffers. I try to bounce one off someone’s head into the recycling. They’re so shocked they just stand there looking indignant, which just makes me laugh even more. No one has yet thrown paper at me, but I would welcome it.
– There is never enough coffee.
– I wouldn’t have it any other way. As hard as a this season is for retailers, it’s also fun. Sure, it’s exhausting and the level of detail is painstaking, but there is something really exciting about selling so many books and knowing that there are going to be some very happy people on Chanukah or Christmas opening books that are perfect for them.

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