Just when you think you are alone…

San Francisco Book Co - Paris, Is there anybody back there?

Sometimes when I am in the shop diligently listing books on the internet (or not) I am startled to see a customer at the end of the row when I was quite sure I was on my own. They have somehow passed through the elaborate security system at the door to the shop, a dangly jangly elephant thing from Thailand, without being seen or heard.  That is not as bad however as the Friday night when I had brought in the sign and turned out the lights ready to go home to have a customer suddenly pop out from the back room. She had been browsing the romance books for so long and so quietly I had completely forgotten about her. The sudden absence of light apprised her of my imminent departure. Just as well I didn’t do what the previous owner did and lock her in the shop. Though that was in the double storey Victorian when Jock went out to do banking for half an hour. The customer who told me the story said he came downstairs to pay for his book and found the place deserted and the door locked. He waited patiently for Jock to return then paid for his book and made his escape. Nice to be able remind Jock about this incident though.

Now I do check the rooms at the back and made sure they are empty before I close up.

The other thing I do sometimes when it gets quiet in the early afternoon and the sun is warm and I get soooo drowsy  is slouch in my chair and have a little nap. Fortunately I have trained myself so that as soon as the shop door jangles open I am up like a shot and as bright and alert as, well, as  any other second hand bookshop owner.

Then of course there is the comfort break. There has been no-one in for half an hour, do I rush out the back and chance it or lock the door and put up the back in five minutes sign? This can be a difficult decision.

Sometimes I pop down and see Lyn two doors down at the collectibles shop for a chat.  I hover in her doorway keeping a weather eye out for possible customers but sometimes one eludes me and I find them wandering down an aisle looking for me. I do lock the til when I toddle off but if someone was to pinch a book during those brief moments good luck to them.

Another aspect of working alone is that making myself a cup of coffee is a thing of the past . So many times I have made one and have it go cold I just don’t bother any more.  Lyn from the aforementioned collectibles shop will get me one from the coffee shop on the strip but even those often get forgotten until they are stone cold. Such a waste when they cost $3.50. I also like to wait until the shop is empty before I have lunch. I have occassionally been so busy that I have waited til 3 o’clock or later before I can eat but to be truthful would be more that happy to miss a lunch break in a regular basis it it meant being rushed off my feet.

The most annoying thing I do is forget to bring up a customer order from home. I am only a few hundred meters from the shop so dashing home to grab the order is only a five minute exercise (by car). A couple of my trusted customers Dr Who guy for example are happy to mind the shop in my absence otherwise I have to send the customer  down to Lyn’s  for a few minutes while I dart home and snatch the said book off the kitchen counter. If one of my offspring are home they will run it up but usually no-one answers the phone.

I send myself emails to remind me to bring books up but it doesn’t always work. Perhaps I should get myself of of those Blackberry thingamabobs but having lost four mobiles in two years am not sure that would solve the no book left behind problem

Therese Holland

McLeods Books

10 Station St

Nunawading 3131


ph 0398777214

open 7 days

5 thoughts on “Just when you think you are alone…”

  1. Your shop, with your previous owner and now with you at the helm, reminds me of my own. Once I did lock someone in the shop. Well, she could have unlocked the door from the inside and left, but luckily she was still inside when I returned, cooled off after my walk with the dog, which I’d taken not so much for the dog’s sake as my own, needing some air after an unpleasant encounter. Now when I walk my dog (the new one), I put the “We will be right back” note on the door and lock it but look carefully through the shop first to make sure there’s no one in a quiet corner. And yes, more than once I’ve asked trusted customers to “watch the store a minute” while I ran out on some minor emergency. They are tickled to be asked, generally speaking.

  2. You remind me of a story my mum tells me frequently about my uncle.

    Grandpa and uncle started their selling career in country towns. Uncle had this particular shop on his own and would frequently take time off to go golfing. He solved the problem of staff by just leaving the door and the till open with a note requesting people take what they want and leave appropriate money. We have no records of him ever ‘losing’ stock or money!

  3. Hi there,

    this post made me understand what’s the connection between various people working alone (like yourself, or self-employed people working from home etc): something like contextual loss of short-term memory and a vague feeling of alienation, that I believe is normal and futile at the same time. And, in your case, the books that may render discomfort when they tend to invade the space (that’s actually been proven: too much culture for one or two rooms). But, then, there’s a certain peace that brings things back on the track. That peace transcends your writing.

    Lloyd Burrell
    Office Desk Reviews

  4. If you keep losing mobile phones, you might want to get one of the cheap little disposable tracphones. If you lose it or sit on it, BIG DEAL. You also don’t have to worry about a monthly contract. I have one I mostly just use for credit card processing while I’m out of store at a fair.

  5. That would be kind of scary for both people. I hate just having someone pop out of no where when you think your allow. I can see how this could happen in a book store for sure. I guess if you did lock her in the shop she would have a look of books to read for the night.

Comments are closed.