Monday, July 9, 2018

Cool Old Books

I keep meaning and WANTING to write a thoughtful reflection on my new job (starting my 6th week today!)---not happening, so I'll paste here an e-mail catch-up I wrote this morning to an old college friend, who teaches Latin.
Hi, A.,

I'm having a great summer: I have a new job I love!
Since February, I'd been volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. I loved it and let the manager know I'd like to work there as paid staff, though I knew they had no money for staff, nor openings.

As luck would have it, the 75-year-old "Book Lady" retired at the end of May, and I was a natural fit for the position.I'm surprised this store even has a paid (part-time) position for sorting and displaying books 
––(Goodwill jumps dumps books on the shelves, loosely in two categories--fiction and non-)
––but my store has always had a fiction section alphabetized by author, and the nonfiction is categorized--
History, Religion, Memoir, Cookbooks, etc. Which takes a lot of work.

I have added a new category:
My predecessor, Roberta, put beat-up old books in recycling (eek!), but I thought they might sell (for collage/book arts, possibly)
----tried it, and they do! Some of them...

I took this photo for YOU---the book itself sold within a few days ($1.99). The gold on the cover actually glitters, and you can imagine the appealing mid-century illustrations inside (or probably have seen this exact edition).
We are a rather grungy store in a poor neighborhood, but we do get some donations of valuable antique books too.
I've started doing eBay for the store--often I am rescuing things my coworkers reject---like a sterling silver bowl I pulled from metal recycling, which sold for $150. (Our biggest sale.)

I've also taken on posting on SVDP's Facebook page---something that got done intermittently---every few days, or weeks...
I am doing it daily, at least for now.

I am sometimes deliriously happy in this job, sometimes I just feel overwhelmed.
While I LOVE that it's the opposite of corporate Goodwill, where I worked last summer, with their stranglehold of rules.
the lack of much in the way of organization at SVDP means you're constantly fighting the Avalanche of Entropy... with a spoon.
But a sterling silver spoon! :)

Of course I love the books, and I like all my coworkers (some more than others...);
I tell myself to take the long view---and just to focus on my area(s). When I'm tempted to get over-involved, I chant the Polish saying,
"Not my circus, not my monkey."

Mostly, it is the ideal job for me---a mix of Thrift Store & Library, my two loves, and some Social Media, which is not quite a love but definitely a Like...
. . . and I get plenty of contact with toys, if I want. 

I've saved a few stuffed animals--
here's a before and after of a dirty, old, handmade elephant---doesn't look too, too different, but believe me, it feels entirely different, fresh and bouncy instead of yucky and lumpy---that's Marz with the refreshed "Starbell", reading about Zen.
(I could write a book about stuffed animal repair:
 Nothing Holey About It.)

This week is the yahrzeit of my father's death. It's because of my inheritance ($ from his house) that I can afford to work at SVDP, which pays $10/hour, part time.

I am WARY of saying this, there are soooo many X-factors, but I have a tentative hope that I could work at SVDP for a dozen or so years and retire from there---I'd be 69 in 12 years---or even hold out like Roberta did, until 75...

THIS COULD BE ME (from "tiny dead people" on Instagram):

I worked at the art library for a dozen years, and worked freelance in publishing for for longer, so it's not impossible. I have a lot of autonomy---actually, almost more than I'd like. I mean, I have no guidance because pretty much NO ONE among my colleagues reads, so I can't ask,"Should this go in History or Science?"
Not that that matters, really, for the store, but I do feel a little lonely with it.... Still, I wouldn't trade in too much freedom, for fear of tipping into too little.

I'm going to start to look for my own volunteers––there must be people who would love to help out with books, and for a real hands-on charity.
I mean, you can SEE in this store that we are directly helping people. Among other things, people come with vouchers for free clothes. And the profits go directly to the "Vinnie's Hope" large-scale food-distribution program (our workers & refrigerator trucks pick up donations from grocery stores and distribute them to 26 food shelves--expensive to run!).

So---write when you get a minute---would love to hear what you're up to, & what you're thinking about!!!
And reading????
XO Fresca


gz said...

An interesting email..and it sounds a really good place to work.
We visit the SVDP shop in Whanganui when we stay with friends there.thrift stores there are called "Op Shops"...Op=opportunity

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have found a really good fit and I bet that it doesn't seem like work when you are there!

I love the concept of "Cool Old Books". The Goodwill here puts books in Children, Fiction and Non-Fiction, Cookbooks, Religious. I have found some cool old books there occasionally.

I find it fascinating that despite the neighborhood, you do end up getting some good donations. Good donations bring in shoppers.

I'm sure Mishka from the /Soviet Olympics is gone but I would love to buy him!


Frex said...

GZ: Oh! I saw that "op" shop term and wondered what it meant. "Opportunity"--of course! Thanks for solving that for me.

Ah, your Goodwill is smart to at least do that much sorting of books.

I priced Mishka too high, I guess (for the customer base)--$10--so he's still here.
I was just thinking I'd knock the price down to 5.00. (You could buy him for that if you like! Let me know--I could ship him. Oh, but that's be a few more bucks... (probably $4ish).

Frex said...

KIRSTEN: Home from work now---I took Mishka off the wall and am keeping him at my desk, in case you want him. No problem, either way.
He's about... 2 feet tall? Flat, of course.