Liar, Liar, Pants on… Ooo, Shiny!

I’m working at the Hebrew Book Fair, as I told you guys a few days ago, but I’ve been tossed around a couple of times since then, from one sales area to another. I was moved from outside the mall to inside the store, and then from there I was stolen by a very nice woman with dark hair to work with her in the little area right outside the store that’s separate from it but still owned by the same company. Confused? Yeah, so was I. Anyway, none of this is really relevant.

I’m now acting as a boss/manager even though I’m still paid minimum wage. I get to be in charge of the register at the end of the day, as well as the two seventeen-year old high school kids who are working with me.

That’s not the point either. The point is that Book Week, as lovely a concept as it is, is about sales. Pure and simple. It’s about making money. Whenever a certain book isn’t selling, I need to start recommending it to customers after having just read the back cover or inside flap. I need, in short, to lie about having read and liked books. I’m not above an occasional white lie, but in this case… well, it bothers me. As a reader, I want sales-clerks’ honest opinions about books, and I don’t want to cause anyone to buy a book they might not enjoy.

But bookstores are businesses, and the cash register needs to show a certain amount of profit every day. Still, while I’ve recommended books that I haven’t read, I’ve only told people that I’d heard good things about the book. I also never tried to foist a book on someone who didn’t want it after I showed it to them. And, most importantly, I still recommend the books I know and love most of all.

How do you feel about lying, or at least bending the truth and exaggerating, in order to make sales? Have you done it before? Do you feel guilty or do you see it as all part of the job?

The Little Moments

-I sat in the kitchen this morning, eating cereal and reading a book as usual. The book, A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham, is incredible. But my eyes kept straying to the big kitchen windows, and the glorious clouds visible through them. They were white and fluffy, but had grey lining in one direction, making them seem like an artists rendering in pencil.

-I looked at the salesman in the Nissan dealership, and I saw that he genuinely wanted to sell us a car. It was his job, and I knew he got paid by commission, but I appreciated the sincerity in his gaze, as well as his manners.

-My mom and I sat behind a gas station eating yogurts and brownies and chips, our only snack between about nine and four-thirty in the afternoon. The wind was blowing my hair all over the place, but it felt so nice, so comfortable. I could feel the hairs tingling on my arms with the slightest chill, but ignored it and turned my face into the wind.

-I was reunited with my book during my exercise walk. I read avidly, walking as fast as I could, but at the same time heard the silence of the afternoon settle around my pounding footsteps and my ragged breath. My sweat dripped down my forehead, but I was so immersed in my book that I hardly felt it.

-Chatting over coffee with my mom, I felt like an adult, trying to decide on a car to buy. My opinion meant something, and I could contribute. I’ve been doing this for a long time, ever since I aged almost overnight when I was fifteen years old, but it still feels like a marvel when I stop to think about it.

It’s the little moments, the good moments, that can make a day tolerable. They can even make it good.