The title of this post sounds a bit sentimental, I know. And people who know me (either in person or through reading what I write in here) may be wondering, “What’s he talking about? He and his daughter live under the same roof.” I’m writing about the downside of moonlighting. I saw Susie tonight for less than five minutes this evening, and it was the first time I had seen her since she went up to bed Sunday night.
Susie catches her school bus to Dominion before my alarm goes off in the morning, so this week the most I’ve been able to accomplish is hearing her moving around in her bedroom and in the bedroom, getting dressed and ready to leave for school. She’s in bed for the night by the time I arrive home from the bookstore.
Her cough is the only reason I was able to see her tonight. While I was downstairs having some soup Steph had saved for me in the Crock-Pot, I could hear a very productive cough issuing from the direction of her bedroom. Susie sounded absolutely miserable, so after I finished my meal, I went back out. This time I went to Kroger, where I bought some Big K diet cola (to take to work tomorrow) for myself, and a bottle of Kroger Nite Time Cough for Susie. I was away for about a half hour, and when I came home, I went up to Susie’s bedroom. She had been asleep, but woke up a little groggily when I told her I had cough medicine for her. She sat up, and I don’t think she was ever 100% awake, but I poured her a dose of the cough syrup (thankfully, the bottle came with one of those little plastic cups), and she was with it enough that all of it went down her throat, and none of it on the blankets or her pajamas. I think she was dead to the world before I turned out her bedroom light.
The hours at the bookstore are the reason I’ve neglected the blog this week. In my defense, I can boast that I’ve written in the holographic diary every day this year thus far (there are less than 20 pages to fill in the current volume), but I usually write during my breaks and lunches at work. There is no Wi-Fi access at work, and Blogger is blocked, so I can’t post entries during the workday. So, readership, it’s not that I don’t love you.
While helping customers at the Discovery Exchange, sometimes I feel like a magician giving away secrets. (Which is a no-no in the illusionists’ trade; Harry Houdini stipulated that all his notebooks and journals be destroyed after his death.) However, I tipped my hand, by necessity, several times when helping people find their textbooks. The textbooks are arranged alphabetically by subject and course number (e.g., Biology 101) on shelves from A through N. N (nursing) through V (veterinary studies) are arrayed along the perimeter of the back wall. Small cards with the course names and numbers appear on the shelves, along with the titles of the books required and/or recommended.
Whenever someone is uncertain as to which book is necessary for his/her class, I have made it a point to ostentatiously check the ISBN on the back, by the UPC code. On the shelf cards, we’ve printed the ISBNs alongside the title of the appropriate books, so I have let customers know that if they’re unsure, they should make sure these numbers match. (This is not exactly classified information, but more than one person seem impressed by this feat.) I’ve even used the phrase “When in doubt…” before showing this to them. (When I was in seventh and eighth grades at St. Mary’s Middle School, my English teacher, the late Sr. Elizabeth Donovan, O.P., was fond of using sentences beginning with “When in doubt…” when informing us about rules of grammar or composition. In the yearbook, we predicted she would make a fortune from her bestselling book, When in Doubt…)
Example of an ISBN on a textbook bar code.
This is from the University of Saskatchewan’s
Website, so this diagram is not necessarily
universal for all textbook stores’ price tags.
Many people are crestfallen when used copies of textbooks are not available. Like most textbook stores, we don’t separately shelve new and used books, so they’re disappointed when I tell them that if they don’t see the yellow or orange USED stickers on the spines, there are none to be had. (I’ve also seen a disproportionate number of books that are fresh off the press and in use for the first time. The wound to the pocketbook is often mortal.) In desperation, many people pointed to the spines of the books and asked, “Does this mean the book is used?” It breaks my heart to have to explain that no, that’s an anti-theft device.
The price of calculators is appalling as well. Many of the math class, even the 100-level introduction to algebra classes, require expensive calculators. I noticed several of them require the TI-84, which is an expensive graphing calculator made by Texas Instruments. The customer has to buy the calculator at the cash register, since we don’t stock them on the shelves. (Calculators used to be on the shelves, but they began evaporating by the dozens. Something that expensive and that portable led many into what Catholics call “an occasion of sin.”) It reminded me of wanting to have something in common with the math geeks in high school, and saving stray pennies and nickels to buy a TI-30 at True Value Hardware.
The coveted TI-30
I don’t remember if I ever bought it. Then, as now, my math skills were quite limited. I still count on my fingers when I figure tips, and I never passed Algebra I in high school. The extent of my ability with calculators was knowing that 58008.618 spelled BIg BOOBS if you turned the calculator upside down, or that if you punched in 7734 2 06, it spelled gO 2 hELL.
How do we bookstore clerks keep ourselves entertained when there are few customers? Usually, there are two or three carts of buy-backs sitting by the manager’s desk, and so I will push one of the carts (they’re identical to library carts, or the carts I use at the Industrial Commission) up and down the aisles, and try to figure out where these books belong. Often, two or three of us are walking around, books in hand, looking at the shelves. (Some titles are easier to place than others.) It becomes a group effort, especially with the more difficult books. I’m surprised no one has considered making some kind of game or contest of this project.
I will be working at the bookstore through next week. I thought that next Sunday would be my final day, but Stacey, the supervisor who interviewed me and hired me, asked me yesterday if I’d be willing to come in Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday next week. Realizing that would mean a fatter paycheck, I readily agreed. (Discovery Exchange is open one Sunday a quarter, and I’m working it. I’m sorry to miss church–although I’m a Unitarian Universalist, I have strong Roman Catholic tendencies when it comes to church attendance.)
I posted two or three Gerry Rafferty videos from YouTube to my Facebook account yesterday, after learning that he had died. (I was a big fan of “Baker Street” and “Right Down the Line” when in high school, and City to City was an album I bought soon after it was released.) I was too exhausted, however, to post a blog entry.
And I may have made a mistake here tonight. I opened a diet cola to take my Lithium, but had a second one so I’d have enough fuel to finish this entry. My alarm is set for 6:45 a.m., and another 13-hour workday begins at 8 a.m. So, I may have to take a melatonin to counteract the caffeine if I’m going to get anything resembling sleep.
Therefore, we now conclude our blogcast day.