I have returned to the world of working for a living. Not that I was really gone from it; I was still writing, and while it most certainly does not pay the bills – otherwise I’d be off living the high life in Oregon, British Columbia, Maine or Romania rather than cruising Craigslist and Fiverr for gig opportunities and having fascinating conversations with local booksellers and librarians – I would consider it to be work; I was also doing freelance things, trying to prettify my Twitch channel, working on YouTube content and doing a hundred other little things that show no immediate fiscal return but do constitute performing actions that may be unpleasant or unsavory in a fashion dictated by someone else’s moods, timetables and rules in hopes of an exchange of currency.
But most people don’t count that sort of thing. To those people – who seem to be far more abundant in my current locale than elsewhere, if blog posts and conversations with folks from elsewhere are any indication – if you don’t go somewhere, type your name in or punch a clock or sign a sheet, then do something repetitive for 8+ hours, then type your name, punch the clock or sign off again and go home, you’re not working. But now I’m working, according to their definition.
It’s a pretty neat gig… but it hurts inside. I work in a book processing warehouse, now. Giant boxes full of books – a thousand pounds a piece – come in, and they must be sorted, assessed for quality, stickered and sent onward to assorted marketplaces. It’s fun. I’m surrounded by the smell of books. It’s got an excellent pay scale – and is based on the number of items you process, which pleases me, as I have always favored merit and effort as being deciding factors over just showing up – you get free books, the whole place reeks of the scent of libraries, which is a bonus, and everybody there is extremely pleasant.
But it hurts, because sometimes the books are damaged, or not needed, or otherwise must go to the dreaded realm of the pulp pile. When you hold something in your hands, a thing you adore – say, an early edition of ‘Salem’s Lot – and the dust jacket is shredded and urine stained, the covers warped, and you have to throw it into a box that you know is destined to be shredded and recycled, you shed a silent tear. And there are many, many, many tears in a given day, as we are to process roughly 3,000 books a day… and that’s not counting the ones we pull that are so badly damaged they’re not even worth trying to find the ISBN to log them. It’s probably closer to 4,500 or so, if one factors those in.
That’s per employee, by the by. So it’s really around 45k per day, with about 1/3rd of those being instantly marked as doomed.
It’s kind of sad. Mainly because I recoil in horror at the idea that people treat their books so poorly. I know it’s a stupid thing to set me off, to be bothered by. There’s plenty of other things to be upset about in the world today. But the way people treat books, especially when combined with what seems to be the general attitude around here regarding the written word, just makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.
Oh, and the title of the post has essentially zero to do with the rest of it, except for a running joke I have with some people. Given that I’m essentially starting all over in something new to me, I made a My Little Pony reference. When confronted with the possibility that she might fail in something, Twilight Sparkle comes to believe that she will be sent back to “magic kindergarten” for her failings. Ergo, I have gone to magic kindergarten, as I must relearn my previous skills and apply them differently, since i was made of fail at my last professional endeavor.
I leave you with a stupid pony pic. Because i can.