Not in my teens.
Not in my 20s.
Not in my 30s.
Not in my 40s.
Not in my 50s.
I'm starting to feel a little like I've got a scarlet B on my chest.
For the (several decaded) life of me, I can't seem to land a job at a bookstore when there's an opening. This stings a bit, because bookstores are my natural habitat. Why don't they want me?
Let me go over the past two forays into getting in touch with my inner bookseller. When I was 42, shortly before I went to Korea, I tried to get on at the local bookstore. It went something like this:
Me: O! I love to read! Booksbooksbooksbooksbooksbooksbooksbooks....
Bookstore Manager: (a bit frostily) Customer service
Me: Booksbooksbooksbooks...Huh? Oh yes, of course...customers are important to me. I want to recommend books I've read and build rapport and...
BM: This is not a sit-down job
Me: Uh, I would read...in my off time....of course...
BM: Do you have bookstore experience?
Me: Well, no, but it's my dream to work in a bookstore.
BM: Go away
In my most recent attempt (July, August) to get on at the local bookstore, there was a third page on the standard application. Favorite authors, an easy matching books and authors. Why do you want to work here? I was veryvery careful this time to thread in my love for customers and my willingness to bend like Gumby to the randomness that is retail.
But, sigh... I may have let my bookworm freak flag fly too much. I named 3 or 4 authors when one would have done (Who can choose just one???? That's just not right...but did I have to say Zola????!!) I also wrote down this blog's address so that BM (different BM; she's really nice, even if we sort of disagree about the hiring thing) could further explore my reading life at her leisure. I think I restrained myself from mentioning that I wrote a book, but when I look back...well, I was in a fever. I could have said anything.
So much for enthusiasm with a slight nod to careful calibration.
No joy; not even a phone call requesting an interview.
I held out hope for over a month, I carried around my book-shaped earrings for good luck, then I gave up. Actually, that was a lie. I'll never give up hope. Last week, an unfamiliar number popped up on my phone and I had this little frisson of joy that rubbed against my heart like sandpaper and I thought: Maybe it's BM. Please, please. But no. A robot informed me that I could win a vacation to Florida. I guess there are bookstores there.
Maybe it's time to get real: No bookstore job for Bybee. This could be a good thing. I remember something George Orwell wrote about being an avid booklover and going to work as a bookseller. At the end of the day, he was all blarrgh and sick of the sight of books. I wouldn't ever like to feel that way, but I wouldn't mind the chance to find out.
So for now, I'm not in the room where it happens, but the completist in me has her head up and is already scenting the air of the future: I still have my 60s to go! Will victory finally be mine, or will the book finally slam shut on my bookstore dreams forever?