Customer of the Week - Week 2

Monday, October 27, 2008

Damn, has it been a week already? Time has just flown by. I'm still getting back into the groove of working a regular schedule, but I've enjoyed being back at the bookstore. Now I'm trying to get ready for Halloween, which is apparently this Friday, which means I need to carve some pumpkins with a quickness. But, since it's Monday (and therefore the start of my "weekend" - ie, two days off in a row) that means its time for this week's Customer of the Week! Only one stood out this week, but he was fun. The winner of the COTW, Week Two, is ..... the Flamboyant Former Bookseller!

FFB came in to order some books by Italo Calvino, an author I haven't read but who definitely intrigues me. Somehow we got to talking about books that are life-changing. The ones that you remember years later, that somehow were the right words at the right time to encapsulate everything that you needed to hear and feel. It turns out that he had worked for years as a bookseller. I told him about how much I enjoy selling books to young teenagers - I love the excitement on their faces when they purchase Siddartha or Catcher in the Rye or The Fountainhead. I wonder how they found out about their book - were they randomly searching the internet and stumbled across it? Or did an older and wiser mentor subtlely suggest they pick up a copy?

FFB is the COTW not just because he was fun, insightful, and wearing a totally fabulous striped shirt with the color up, Fonzi-style. But because he got me thinking about my own life changing book. Like millions of teenagers before me, I can remember the first time I read On the Road. Unlike many other teenagers, I've read it since then. Multiple times. While I don't think its really Kerouac's best work (Desolation Angels is better written, Visions of Cody easier to read, and Dharma Bums a more interesting story), something about On the Road makes it accessible to a young reader in a way that his other works aren't.

On the Road is often criticized for being dated, but those critics are missing the point. When I first read On the Road as a young pre-teen, I didn't read it as a travel guide to hitch-hiking across the country. But I recognized myself in Sal Paradise. Because the story of Sal Paradise is the story of a young person with an unlimited capacity for dreams, who ultimately discovers that his dreams have outpaced him. His journey almost ends before it begins, when he finds himself standing along the side of an empty road, heading the wrong direction, soaked and miserable and wearing the wrong kind of shoes for the road. At the very end of the novel, he is forced to confront the fact that his best friend Dean, the friend who had propelled him on his epic journey across the country, is actually a self-centered jerk. But through it all Sal Paradise just keeps moving. And that was what was most appealing to me as a teenager, and which still resonates now at 30 - that you'll never run out of road.

Maybe all that Kerouac in my formative years explains why I'm still searching for a niche and a career after all this time, why I'm still convinced there can be greatness in my future. Who knows. But there are worse novels to serve as a guidepost. So thanks, FFB, for bringing up great memories. And reminding me of some of the things I enjoy most about my job. Now its time to go back and re-re-read my copy of the On the Road - the one that still has my name scrawled in pen on the cover, from so many years ago.

The Inaugural Blue Crayon Customer of the Week Award

Monday, October 20, 2008

Regular readers may have noticed that when I talk about my job, I tend to spend 90% of my time complaining about the customers. That's because 90% of them suck. But I realized that I should also be talking about the 10% that don't suck, who aren't assholes and who help me enjoy my job. Therefore, starting today, I'll be posting once a week to congratulate the Blue Crayon Customer of the Week. Winners are determined in my sole and completely arbitrary discretion.

This week we actually have a tie:

COTW 1: Tiny Obama supporter. Today a young girl (maybe 6 or 7 years old) came into the store with her abuela. She was a little elfin thing and she immediately flitted up to our table of election books. "Look!" she said. "Its Obama!". And clapped her hands. My heart grew three sizes that shift, because awwww. And yay! Yes we can, indeed!

COTW 2: Nice mom with her pre-teen daughter. Work in retail for any length of time, and you will see the entire range of horrible parenting. From neglect to emotional abuse and everything in between. Our store is in a ritzy area of town, so we tend to get a lot of the Type A parents. The poor kids drag in, exhausted from piano/soccer/swimming/French class and bearing a long list of private school-mandated reading. Mom or Dad snips at them (and me!) the whole time and the kid never gets to buy a book they actually want to read, because god forbid they take time away from something they can put on their college applications. So anyway, I was bracing myself when a mom came up with her daughter (in a soccer uniform, natch). Imagine my surprise when the mom was nice - really pleasant! She asked me if I could recommend some books for her daughter, and then let her daughter explain what she liked to read. And she listened while her daughter talked! And would randomly squeeze her shoulders! You could tell mom and daughter actually liked each other. It was such a change from the normal pre-teen parenting dynamic that I see that I talked to them for a long time. It turns out the daughter likes science fiction, so good for her!

An honorary mention goes to any customer who can make me laugh. This week's winner: the husband of one of the aforementioned Type-A moms. The mom (not a COTW) stormed off in a huff because I directed her to the information desk, for, you know information. Not just to get her out of my face (although that was somewhat true too) but because I was the only one at the register, and I knew that the info desk would be able to spend more time with her and actually find her stuff quicker. Anyway. After she blew off, her husband said "oh well. she doesn't like me much either". Hahaha! Also....kind of sad. For him.

Overheard at the Playground

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Remember that one episode of the X-Files where there was the teenager who was a faith healer? And how it was supposed to be about the nature of faith, but really it was about how kids that talk like adults creep us out? Except for this kid, of course, who was just really dorky, until he grew up and became awesome. at the playground. Lil Blue and I were running around on the jungle gym when I heard a young boy (maybe eight years old) and his even younger friend talking. Here's what I heard (I swear I'm not making any of this up)

Kid: "You see what your problem is? Its that your clothes don't match your personality"
Younger Kid: "What do you mean?"
Clinton Kelly: "What you wear and how you look influence how people perceive you"
Bud Fox:"So what should I do?"
Gordon Gekko: "Well, look at it this way. If you dress like a princess, people will think you're a princess. Heck, if you dress like a cat, people will think you're a cat. You need to think about what you want to be, and then dress accordingly"

Seriously? Is this how kids talk these days? I mean, I can't argue with the kid's advice. And he was wearing a very fashion-forward blue-on-blue ensemble complemented by vintage Pumas (even more impressive given that he was probably -15 years old when the original Pumas were hot). Lil Blue and I looked at each other, and I'm sure she was thinking "yeah, mom, thanks for letting the kids think I'm a dirty hippie love child being raised by two moms, what with the no makeup and the cargo shorts and the Keens, you might as well be wearing an Ani DiFranco tshirt. I'll just be over here with the fancy moms wishing I had a ballerina costume on instead of this ridiculous Grateful Dead tshirt" Damn, kids are so judgmental these days.

Don't Stop Believing

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

35-14, people.


NFL Week 6 Picks

Friday, October 10, 2008

Remember two weeks ago when I said that my nemesis, the Carolina Panthers, had managed to NOT screw my picks, and that maybe my streak of NEVER EVER betting one of their games correctly was ended? Didja watch last week's game? Did you see how I said that KC was going to upset Carolina? Did you see what happened next? That's right, Carolina proceeded to win the game 34-0. ZERO! Argh! So here's this weeks picks.

Visit the Commish for all the action!


NY GIANTS @ CLEVELAND: I know, I may be the only person in America who is willing to bet on the Brownies. But I can't desert my team in their most desperate hour. Also, the Browns have a habit of playing up to substantially better teams.

NB: Can you believe the line on this game is only NYG -7.5? Are they watching the same Browns team I am? Is someone planning to sabotage the entire Giants starting lineup? Can I stand to wait until Monday?


Reaching Out and Touching Someone. Or Twenty.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My little sister (hi, B!) finally convinced me to join Facebook...and now I'm wondering where the last 24 hours disappeared to. You see, I switched schools several times growing up, including between junior high and high school. And back in those dark ages, we didn't have email, cell phones, text messaging, twitter, facebook, et cetera, to use to keep in touch. We picked up the phone (which sometimes, at least in my house, had a dial) and called each other. Well, I hate talking on the phone. Did then, do now, always have. So many of my friendships dwindled away to nothing. Kids I sat with on the bus, ate lunch with, told secrets to and passed notes to, all went their separate ways. Until NOW when I can sit at my kitchen table and chat away with people I haven't seen for years. We even found my "little sister" from the family who hosted me during my homestay in France!

Finding one friend in particular has been wonderful. We'll call him M. Back in our school days, a lot of the kids would call M gay, I guess because he was soft spoken and liked art. Although, it was an art school, so all of us probably seemed gay to kids at regular school. But I digress. I'm pretty sure the other kids made M's life hell in school, but he was always a good friend to me and always had a huge smile on his face. Since high school he's moved to a city he adores and has a fabulous job that brings him lots of satisfaction. And I am so, so happy for him. He was my friend and I was always nice to him. But I wasn't brave enough to stand up for him when other kids said hateful things. Maybe he is actually gay. Maybe he's not. That's not the point. The point is that those kids were assholes, and I should have done more for my friend.

My sincerest desire is that Lil Blue won't be that kid. That she won't be any of those kids - not the mean girl, not the picked-on kid, and not the kid standing quietly by. I can only hope that her father and I do a good a job molding her into a person who is both kind and courageous.

NFL Week 5 Picks

Saturday, October 4, 2008

(Image courtesy of 80's Tees which you should totally visit and buy lots of stuff from)

So what a weird season its been so far, huh? The Colts are 1-2, the Patriots are looking like mere mortals at 2-1, while the Titans and the Bills are 4-0. Arizona is leading its division. Of course, the Bengals and Lions are doing about as well as expected at 0-4 and 0-3, respectively, so its not completely Bizarro NFL. But it does make picking these games a little trickier, since I can't just pencil in a win or loss for certain teams.

I'm posting a little late here, but still squeaking it out before Sunday games begin. Last week's results were not any better than the week before, indicating that whether I do actual research or not, I can't accurately predict more than nine games. BUT in other news, my nemesis the Carolina Panthers finally didn't screw me over! In the years and years that I've played fantasy football and squandered money on office football pools, I have never ONCE accurately predicted a Carolina game. I pick win, they lose. In retaliation I pick lose, they win against all odds. Luckily, no one sent a memo to the Atlanta Falcons and they graciously put up a paltry nine points. Thanks, guys!

Winning teams are in RED this week.

TENNESSEE @ BALTIMORE: This is a tricky one for me. On one hand, I feel like TN is due for a loss. On the other hand, TN is playing fantastic defense, and BAL is playing with a rookie QB (the awesomely named Joe Flacco) leading an offense on which no one is 100% healthy. So I'm giving it to TN, in what I predict will be a low scoring game.

KANSAS CITY @ CAROLINA: I'm going out on a limb and giving this one to KC. I don't think CAR is as good as their record would make you think, and KC has some good talent on their offense.

CHICAGO @ DETROIT: "what's the score" "0-0" "who's winning?" "the Bears"

ATLANTA @ GREEN BAY: Okay, Packers fans, help me out here. I really wavered on this one, mainly due to all the GB injuries. But I'm going to pick GB because I think ATL can't win on the road.

INDIANAPOLIS @ HOUSTON: Someone has to win this game, and I doubt it'll be the Texans, home field or not.

SAN DIEGO @ MIAMI: Poor Chad Pennington. I really think he got a raw deal in NY. He rushed back from shoulder surgery because the NY media was bitching at him, which led to his other injuries and all the complaints that he couldn't throw with any velocity. I wanted to see him do well in Miami because he seems like a nice guy who could be a good (not great) QB on the right team. Oh well. Coulda woulda shoulda, and I'm giving it to the Chargers.

SEATTLE @ NY GIANTS: The New York Football Giants are on a tear. They look like the Patriots of years past.

WASHINGTON @ PHILADELPHIA: Brian Westbrook has all the ruggedness of a thoroughbred, which is to say none at all.

TAMPA BAY @ DENVER: No way Denver's losing two in a row, especially not at home.

BUFFALO @ ARIZONA: The Cardinals are leading their division mathematically. The Bills haven't lost a game.


NEW ENGLAND @ SAN FRANCISCO: I think NE's defense will win this one.

PITTSBURGH @ JACKSONVILLE: PIT wins games on the ground, and pretty much all of their starters and much of their O-line is on IR. Ben Roethlisberger (Go Redhawks!) is just not going to morph into a consistent pocket passer, and Hines Ward can't catch every pass.

MINNESOTA @ NEW ORLEANS: I think NO has the edge, plus they've got the home field advantage.