Saturday, January 08, 2011

CLOSE THE BOOK. It has come to my attention that the Borders store where I used to work closed its doors forever yesterday. My dear friend and wife Star posted a really lovely post about it on her superb blog; you should really go read it because it goes a long way towards showing what those of us who once worked there may be feeling. She and some others apparently went to see the place one last time. I didn't. One reason is because I frankly didn't know exactly when it was closing and didn't find out until after the fact. Another reason would be that I'm not sure I wanted to see it the way it is now: a sad shell of its former self. It's been that same sad shell for quite a few years now. That's why I left in 2006. I didn't agree with the management's way of doing things (which was born out by the steadily decreasing customer count and the fact that it's now shut down) nor did I like the direction the company as a whole was taking.
I first started working there at the end of June 2000. As a lover of books, of movies and of music this was probably the closest thing I had ever come to a "dream job". I had been shopping at the store since it first opened in the early 90's. Why? Because it stocked everything under the sun and I could always walk in looking for something obscure and usually find it. Several years later, a Barnes & Nobles store opened literally around the corner and I naturally went in to see what it was like. After a couple tries, I decided I didn't like it and returned to Borders. Why? Because B&N seemed to only stock the most mainstream items: NY Times Best Seller List and Top 40 music. Whereas I could walk in off the street and pick up a "His Name Is Alive" cd right off the Borders shelf on my way to work, everything I was looking for B&N never seemed to have. They could order it for me. The shopper does NOT want to hear those words. Ever. They want to walk in and walk out of the store with the desired item in their hot little hands. B&N was uptight, starchy and corporate; Borders was laid back, eclectic and stocked to the rafters with almost anything anyone could look for. After I began working at Borders, it remained the same for a few years until they suddenly started emptying the shelves. I do not exaggerate when I say that over half of the entire store product was suddenly gone; we were carting out umpteen empty bookshelves. Where once had been saleable product now there was carpet. I was actually walking through the store with the GM who was raving about how nice and spacious the store was now with plenty of room to move around. Yes, I said, but you can't sell "space to move around" . . . you sell books and cds and dvds. What's the point of having a store with no product in it to sell?
And this is the REAL reason why my former Borders store is now closed. Sure, the internet has put a severe dent in things. So has itunes and amazon and kindle and any other work of the devil. However, when given the choice of desiring a dvd and having it in my hot little hand this very hour or waiting for amazon to mail it to me, I would chose the former. Why would ANYONE want to get in their car and drive across town to a store that didn't have any product in it other than "The DaVinci Code", "Who Moved My Cheese" and Rod Stewarts' latest "American Songbook" cd. At one point, I seriously went over to the Beatles section and it didn't have "Sgt. Pepper". What kind of store is that? A store that's heading towards oblivion. And yesterday it final reached it. During all this time, Barnes * Noble started heading the other direction; while Borders was getting more mainstream, boring and corporate, B&N was getting less so and stocked more eclectic material. Sure, they are hurting to but you will notice that the B&N store around the corner from my old Borders is STILL open for business -- DESPITE the horrendous road construction which has been going on for a couple years now. This should tell us all something.
The reason I left . . . the reason we ALL left the "Hellmouth" . . . is because they had turned a very pleasant, efficient and money-making store into a very unpleasant, hostile and empty store. On many occasions, I would drive from Borders to B&N -- any day of the week and any different time of day or night -- and I would leave a Borders deserted of customers (literally 3 in the building) and walk in a Barnes & Nobles packed with patrons. They were probably a quarter mile apart, folks. This should tell you something. It told ME something . . . and that's why I left. That's why we ALL left. The Borders we all knew died years ago; the company just didn't know to bury it until yesterday. Am I sad that I didn't go in for one last look around? I don't think so. I think it would've been too upsetting and I've got enough upset and pain in my life right now. I don't need any more. I don't need to be reminded of what a horror my current job is and what a truly rewarding and fulfilling place to work Borders had once been in my life. I echo the sentiments of Star and Epiphany concerning the friendship that were made there once upon a time. The place is gone but the people are still around. I miss seeing them and we do need to fight against fading from one another's life. I work during the night while everyone else is asleep and I sleep while you all are awake. This has meant that in the last year and a half I have had basically no existence at all and lately I have honestly felt, for the first time ever, that all that time has been completely wasted. I say this not for any pity party but to express how much I truly miss seeing all my friends due to this soul-destroying job which separates me from everyone that means so much to me. There's nothing I can do about that now but hopefully one day that will change and I will be able to see you all once again. I just wanted you all to know that I still think about you and it hurts me not to have seen you all for such a long time. Don't ever think that means I've forgotten you or you mean nothing to me. Nothing could EVER be further from the truth.
"Sunset at Borders" photo provided by Star*


Star said...

well, when i was at the hellmouth, i heard that bobbie may be having a borders gathering at her place. i gave cheryl my email, and if i hear anything, i'll totally let you and the rest of our dwindling group know what's up. oh, and i got a hug from bob!!! totally worth going into the store.

Fink Master Flash said...

I honestly would have rather seen the place burn to the ground then dwindle away.

Star, was Pol Pot still working there? I miss seeing her arrive. . .in the backseat!

I miss when the gang would hang outside the front door after closing and chat. We even got Janice to hang a couple times.

I miss the jagoff section and the nights we used to hang out.

I miss the friendships i had at a workplace, now I just work with one other guy and he literally has the personality of a brown bag.

I miss frantically racing to work to beat the 6 minute grace period.

I miss hanging out in the cafe backroom on sunday mornings.

I miss calling a cerain someone 'pumpkin head'.

I miss my locker and the random things Cerpts would leave on it.

I miss when old employees would come back during the college break.

I miss Paulie the clumsy FedEx guy.

Even though some of the memories I have from "Hellmouth" I would like to forget(mainly certain people), I happened to get lucky and meet my wife there. Took me a couple years working with her before I gave into her constant come-ons, but I was never the quickest when it came to that kinda stuff.

I personally don't miss Borders that much as a job. The pay was lousy, the customers were quite bitchy, and the company sucked ass.

I miss working there due to the friendships I made and being able to actually work with my closest friends. I made my best friends while working there. Thankfully, I keep in touch with 4 of them. That being RC, Cerpts, Star, and Kat(my lovely wife). So the passing of Borders was a soft blow for me.

The place I miss the most is Pitney Bowes. And thankfully Cerpts, I shared my time with you there as well.

One day we will get off this 3rd shift and be able to see our friends. . .