Summer is our busiest season, aside from the winter holidays, so while our customers are living it up by the lake, taking fantastic trips, and generally acquiring the glow of a life lived outside, we are pretty much adhered to the inside of the store. This gives us a sort of insouciant pallor and buck-up martyrdom in the face of Vermont’s relentless outdoor beauty.
All is not shelving and alphabetization and sideline buying and mad book restocking, however. Occasionally we get dispatches from the only member of the Flying Pig family who gets to go on vacation: our tote bag. Yes, little Hamlet sees the world from his two-dimensional, soy-ink spot on eco-friendly canvas, and we occasionally get postcards from the hinterlands in the form of photos sent by our customers.
Recently, we received a few from Aruba. But first, some background.
A new customer, Shea, and her partner, Tessa, brought their kids, LaRon (16) and Ty (8) into the store for the first time to stock up on books for vacation. We’d run across Shea and Tessa (friends of my sister’s) a few times outside of work, but this was the first time we’d met the kids. They’re the kind of family where humor reigns supreme; they give each other constant, affectionate grief and are all four astute and comical observers of human absurdity. Needless to say, we had a great time in the store, with much laughter and many book recommendations. They left with a bunch of new reads, stuffed into the Flying Pig tote bag they’d earned with their purchase.
That evening, I received an email from Shea, whose subject header read: “Here’s what you missed after we left,” followed by a little family dialogue:
Shea: “You think so?”
LaRon: “Yeah….and not in the creepy sort of way.”
Ty: “Yeah, but pigs can’t really fly….”
Tessa: “I got nothin’.”
Shea: “Good to know.”
I was both gratified and relieved to discover that I had been helpful — and not in a creepy sort of way. Warms the cockles of my bookselling heart, that does. I wrote back to thank them for their votes of confidence (and to protest to Ty that pigs in fact do fly, as evidenced by the very existence of our store, harrumph).
It was an amusing surprise when more emails began to arrive, this time from Aruba. With photos. Turned out Hamlet, our bookstore mascot on canvas, was having a high old time. He’d made friends with a curious lizard and a donkey, provided a soothing background for some Barbies and their Cosmopolitans (no idea what was going on there; didn’t ask; didn’t want to know), and — in a stunning finish — ventured underwater for his first scuba dive.
Over the years, we’ve received a sprinkling of marvelous travel photos from customers with their Flying Pig totes. This latest round is inspiring us to find a place on our website, and our Facebook page, to create a gallery for these shots, and to invite more. One of these days, we figure we’ll just stow away in one of our totes. Surely no one will mind a couple of helpful booksellers along for the ride?
(Note: We changed the names of the customers who visited Aruba, and received permission to use their email and photos for the blog post.)