Those of you who have been following the blog for a while, or have a keen eye for dates, will note that it has been a little bit over half a year since I actively posted new content on the blog. This was in part due to the constant onslaught of huge life altering changes I was going through at the time, and partially due to a feeling that blogging was my way of shouting into a void… and that was no longer comforting… quite the opposite in fact, rather disconcerting. I shifted most my attention to the booktube channel that Gretchen and I started a year and a half ago and that is still going strong!
So, why come back?
Some of you might know that in October I became the Kid’s Lead at my local Barnes and Noble. At the time I was just glad I had a full time position and could support myself again. I didn’t realize that making the decision to work in that department would bring me some of the worst stress I have ever experienced, as well as some of the most rewarding moments I have yet to enjoy in my life.
If you talk to anyone who has worked as Kid’s Lead you will most likely hear that it is a thankless job. Which is partially true. Thankless on behalf of your management staff and possibly your coworkers, but by no means thankless when it comes to the customers… for the most part.
Yes, I did spend most of my day cleaning up after negligent parents who let their kids tear open toys (rather than say something squirrel them away among the picture books or under a chair as if that fixes things) or stacks upon stacks of books placed in the wrong spot, left on tables or counters, spills, leaks, broken shelves, broken displays and really that is just the tip of the ice berg.
However, I had way more meaningful interactions with teachers, parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, relatives, family friends, and the kids themselves filled with gratitude for the time I put into helping them. Which is what I loved. I was often accused of being too task focused (building displays and ignoring customers) when the reality of the situation was, that I felt obliged to build the displays because there was a deadline hanging over my head. If I didn’t finish it by the deadline I would lose my job. I wasn’t actively avoiding the customers but I was trying to juggle too many balls and pretend like it was cool.
The Kid’s Lead is in charge not only of a majority of the selling in the kids department but the construction and maintenance of all displays (tables, endcaps, you name it) the selling of the Barnes and Noble kid’s club cards which save parents money on kids book through rebates after a certain amount has been spent in store. The selling of what is called a PWP or Promo with Purchase (I’m sure you’ve seen the Get this picture book for just 7.99 with the purchase of any other kids book). Shelving the new product that comes in on a daily basis as well as the back stock that is coming to replace the product that has already been sold. Along with covering breaks around the store, and helping whenever someone else in the store needs an extra set of hands.
It is hard to find a balance where you can do all of that well and still dedicate the time necessary to the customers who are brimming with excellent questions.
I’m not complaining. I liked the challenge. I liked doing all that, and though it took me five months I finally got a handle on all of it. Was able to schedule myself and manage my time in a way that worked. Not only that but my department was flourishing. We were doing better than our sales the year previously (which anyone who has ever worked in retail knows is the only thing Store Managers really care about). I had regulars coming to the events we held like weekly story time. I was implementing new displays and new product that my community had been asking for but the company hadn’t quite gotten around to seeing that it was worthwhile to stock yet (or were willfully ignoring).
Then I was told that the very decisions that were making the store money and that I had spent months planning, researching, working on with my direct supervisors and my team were in fact counter productive, wasting company time and money, creating a unique atmosphere in an environment that should be the same no matter which store you walked into around the country by the one person who technically holds all the power. Something inside me snapped.
I fought back for what I knew was right. I expected to be fired on the spot. Little did I know that a week later I would be resigning.
Again, I loved my job, no matter how many times I broke down in a panic attack crying hysterically unable to breath or speak or be. No matter how many times I was told that I wasn’t good enough.
I knew that the truth was they weren’t good enough for me. They were expecting the work of three people from one person. They were expecting miracles and when I was getting those miracles to happen they got upset that they weren’t the ones to come up with those ideas. It is easy to blame failure on someone who is struggling and when working with three of your limbs tied behind your back it felt impossible. I was replaceable in a way, the requirements to be hired with my job were low although the reality of the job is near impossible. On top of all that, rather than support from the upper management as a person who is doing more than necessary and achieving the impossible. you get jealousy thrown in your face and told to tear all of your work down.
I didn’t need to live with that.
I didn’t need to spend so much money on books that I needed to read in order to talk to kids and parents about them.
I didn’t need to spend my free time at home cutting out handmade snowflakes to decorate my section for Christmas or come in two hours early or stay three hours late to build a Mailbox out of wrapping paper and cardboard that looked like it was headed straight to the North Pole for our Polar Express event. I was going above and beyond and it was killing me. They didn’t deserve it.
I loved what I was doing, since I couldn’t do it there without actually collapsing into a pile of mush I’m going to try and bring it here.
I’m going to use this blog to try and create a resource for the community I was forced to leave, as well as anyone else around the interwebs who might need it.
I’m going to try and give recommendations, explain certain quirks about the industry, and bridge the gap between parents and educators whenever possible.
If you would like to help me in this please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have questions or concerns or just want general bookish recommendations tailored to you, also feel free to email me or leave comments. Tweet. Whatever it takes. I want to help and you deserve to get it. Whether I get paid for it or not.
I am here for you, when nobody else would defend you. I stood up. I’m taking the fight to the streets as it were.
I hope you are excited. I haven’t been this excited about something in so long. I’m ready.
The first step for me is to post some of the content that has been on the youtube channel that pertains to kids stuff that hasn’t migrated over here. I will be staggering that in over the next few months with new posts and ideas as well.
I hope I can be of service to you in some way or another.
p.s. (I made a video explaining in more detail what happened if you care to know the main point of this was to explain the shift in content and sudden reappearance)