Because life is a series of edits

The Reverse

In Books, Calling, Family, Seminary on August 28, 2008 at 2:00 am

As mortgage payments tend to be more than the rent kind, I started a second job this week working part-time in Covenant Seminary's bookstore. It's a good schedule for me that works with my teaching: Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m., and about every other Saturday from 9:30-2:30. In addition, Megan will cover the Saturday shift occasionally, as well as do some work for the bookstore once its new website launches later next month.

Our new bosses are the bookstore's new owners, Nick and Suzanne Gleason, both of whom we've known for a few years and attend church with at Memorial. Nick worked in the bookstore for several years' worth of seminary days, and just last month bought the store from its previous owner. The Gleasons are now in the process of building upon the bookstore's "good books" reputation, as well as improving some systems and general use of space at the seminary that, well, need some improving.

This is the first time I've ever worked a job in retail, and I confess I've gone back and forth on whether I'm cut out for it. Whereas Megan's personality (ISTJ) and past experience (she worked at several home decorating/fabric stores in high school, as well as ran the bookstore at Eagle Lake for years) lend themselves well to a retail environment, yours truly felt like a fish out of water, gutted, and packed in a can on my first day. The cash register scared me; the credit card machine even more so. It's no fun learning a job while physically handling other people's money…in front of them.

Halfway through my second day, I was feeling better about the technical end of things, that is until a semi-huge wave of insecurity washed over me as I was adjusting books and restocking inventory. A professor at the seminary had walked in, seen me, and the conversation went something like this:

Him: "Hey! Good to see you. Are you helping out in the bookstore today?"

Me: "No. I'm a new employee."

Him: "So you're not teaching anymore?"

Me: "Oh, I'm still teaching."

Him: (puzzled look) "Oh."

Me: (sheepish look) "Yeah."
I'm not sure why I was slightly embarrassed; it certainly wasn't because of my part-time job (books? are you kidding?), nor does it have anything to do with my full-time job (teaching the Bible on a daily basis? what more could I want?). Maybe it's that I'm having to work two jobs to make ends meet, but even then I'm grateful God is providing for our family through both of them.

No, I think my insecurity stemmed from my realization that I seem to have an uncanny knack for doing just about everything in reverse order, which has to be some kind of corollary of George Castanza's "opposite" theory. Here are just three examples (there are more) of my "reverse" tendencies:

  • Go into ministry full-time for 12 years, then attend seminary
  • Get a job teaching full-time, then take education classes
  • Write a book, then work in a bookstore

What's next? Keep a blog, then become narcissistic?

  1. You make me laugh, friend. I hope your next day goes well.

  2. Do they sell your book in that bookstore? Because that would be kind of cool. :-)

  3. Don’t sweat the awkwardness, man. It’ll pass quickly. And if ever there was a retail context that fit you, it would be a bookstore.
    Tell Nick hi from me, and congratulate him again on the excellent decision to buy the store.
    Oh, and let’s catch up by phone sometime…

  4. Indeed, Anne, TwentySomeone is on the shelf (and was so before I got there).

  5. At least you didn’t have four kids, then get married.
    I was just thinking today that cash register skills would be a highly useful class in school. Pretty much everyone needs to work on a register at least one time in their lives.

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