Thursday, January 8, 2009

I get presents

Late Thursday afternoon, and I am tired. I'm sitting at my desk looking at the mess.

And it is a mess. Half of York County must have made a New Year's resolution to clean up the clutter, starting with the books. We're getting inundated. Without exaggeration I can say that I've sorted, priced and shelved at least a dozen boxes of books in the last two days. And, by actual count, 75 videos and no less than 3 dozen DVDs. And you can't tell. The front of the shop is a disaster with stacks of books on the counters and boxes of books on the floor.

So I was tired and a bit disgusted with myself for not having a nice, clean book shop and it was only about 4:30 in the afternoon. With the York Chess Club coming in tonight, I was looking at another 5 hours before I could head out.

It was then that two gentlemen walked in the door. "Burst in" would probably be a better description.

"Jim!"

"Guilty," I said in reply. I didn't quite remember him. It seemed to me that he'd been in the shop once or twice before, but I honestly didn't remember much more than that. He'd brought his brother with him this time (apparently he was in town for a few days' visit).

He grabbed my hand and gave it a shake. "I was here right before Christmas looking for a book," he said. "You didn't have it."

That, unfortunately, happens a lot. I have learned that it is one thing to have upwards of 300,000 books; it is quite another thing altogether to have the right 300,000 books. I am convinced that I can probably get rid of half my inventory because it will never sell. All I need to do now is figure out which half.

I started to say something about being sorry that I didn't have the book he wanted, but he just waved that off.

"I found it online," he said. "A used copy."

"Oh, good," I said.

"And I got one for you, too. Here," he said as he handed me a copy of Take Over: How Euroman Changed The World, a science fiction novel written by Dr. Arthur Niehoff. Dr. Niehoff is a retired anthropologist who, during a career spanning 47 years, did original field research in addition to carrying an academic load on various college campuses. At least, that's what it says in his biography on the cover.

Before this afternoon, I'd never heard of the book. Or of Dr. Niehoff.

I stood, mouth open, with the book in my hands.

"I've got to go. See you next time!"

The two of them walked out the door and left me standing there like that. I'm not even sure I thanked him.

All of a sudden, I wasn't quite so tired. And of the 300,001 books in the shop, I know of at least one that I will never sell.

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