Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One of my favorite jobs Borders Books.........

I've been accused of complaining a little too much about whatever job I have at the time...Don't we all? Someone asked me a few days ago what my favorite job was...outside of performing. I'd have to say that, my favorite job was at Borders. I held several positions there and each had many downsides but as a whole, the experience did many awesome moments.
During my time as a manager of a dessert shop called Sweet Stuff, I found that my six day schedule and long commute was not working out. The fact that I was making minimum wage plus tips...which was really no more than $10 on the weekdays and $30 on weekends didn't help. I found out, through a friend, that Borders Books Music & Cafe was hiring in Dunwoody and being that I was a regular customer at both the Buckhead and Dunwoody locations I was determined to get hired. It took two applications and one interview with the HR manager, Lori, before I was hired. Once I was hired, I realized that the pay wasn't all that great BUT the fact that it was more than I was making at Sweet Stuff was great. The benefits weren't all that bad either. Health and dental insurance that kicked in after 90 days, 30% employee discount, free coffee and tea as well as 25 cent fountain sodas.
There were other perks that we had as employees, we could check out any hardcover or quality paperback book to read as long as we returned it in the same condition as we found it on the shelf. The best perk, which I now realize was a ploy to keep employees, was a $250 in store charge account that the company paid $25 per month towards which could potentially pay off your account if you didn't keep it charged to the max. I owed $125 on my account when I left but the wonderful little girl that took over the book keeping dropped me down to $0 after I quit...this is why it pays to be nice to as many people as you can.

There were many things I hated about the job, mainly ill mannered customers and managers that got their positions through favoritism rather than work abilities. The manager that hired me was one of the most horrible people to try and get along with during a shift. The day that we watched her be lead out the store in handcuffs for stealing thousands of dollars over a few months was actually a pretty awesome shift. The weeks leading up to her arrest, she held "a thief among us" meetings to try and cover her tracks.
This was one of the few retail positions where I got raises on a regular basis. The fact that I could work each position in each department didn't hurt at all. I remember my first week, training was pretty simple but overlooking the fact that the training manager was really hot made me more than overly eager not to look like an idiot. I was given a list of books and music to find within an hour, I found every title in less than 20 minutes. I was a book and music pro even before I was hired, that's what happens when you're a compulsive shopper. During my lunch hours, I did what any compulsive shopper would do, I shopped. One more perk, mainly for us in the music department, was the endless supply of newly released promo CD's. We all fought over who go what promo to the point where some of the music reps would send us promos to our personal addresses, this is how I obtained the entire catalog of the Putumayo World Music as well as a good chunk of the Naxos classical music collections on CD that were released up to 1999.
Throughout my time with Borders, I met many interesting people. I met one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris as well as Chuck Negron from Three Dog Night. We also had a few musical performances of up and coming performers, like Amanda Marshall. Too bad her record companies didn't market her as well as they could have, she was amazing. There were also a few memorable BAD musical performances in the store also, like a violin player playing the melody lines to karaoke tapes. There was also a particular painful band that consisted of a drum machine, a bass guitar and 3 flute players...Between the ticking of the drum machine and the cheesiness of the flutes, all of the employees except for the relations manager were feeling second hand embarrassment and annoyance. One of my favorite, "Oh SHIT" moments came when Patsy Ramsey came to my register and paid for a few books while acting like she doesn't see one of the books about her daughter's murder prominently displayed behind me.
My time at Borders also brought a few amazing friends in my life, including my good friend Melanie. While working as overnight stockers, Melanie and I were locked in the store from 11pm to 7am to shelve shipments of books that would come in Monday through Thursday. We spent more time reading the books than our managers realized. Thanks to the store's shrinkwrap machine, we could open and listen to audio books and CDs then shrinkwrap them when we finished. Melanie and I learned a good bit of a few languages thanks to the foreign language CDs. We also made a game of finding the weirdest book we possibly could. I thought I had her beat with "Knitting With Dog Hair: Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than A Sheep You'll Never Meet" until she handed me a copy of "Hand in the Bush: The Fine Art of Vaginal Fisting." She definitely won the prize.
I've been asked a few times why I quit a job that I enjoyed. No matter how much you enjoy a job, every pasture looks greener. When I left Borders, I was hired as a manager trainee at Tower Records...I left Tower Records after only six hours and immediately started my own business but that's another story.

Borders was nothing like Barnes & Noble in respects to the dress code or personal appearance. While the employees at B&N were sporting their business casual khakis, we were the guys could come into work without changing our style. Some of us looked like we dressed out of the hamper while others looked like they did just walk out of B&N. My usual outfit consisted of a t-shirt from a concert or musical, blue jean shorts and Doc Marten boots. As long as we had no holes that weren't intentional or something inappropriate, we were dressed for work.

When I found out that Borders was going completely out of business, it was news that made me sad but also grateful for the fact that I did work there. If they were still open and given the chance, would I work there again? Absolutely not...It was one of those jobs that you enjoy while you're there and you move on.

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