Last night, after a two year absence, I’ve returned to work at Walden Books, where I worked for about a year while in college. I didn’t leave on the best of terms in my mind. Two of my best friends who worked with me had just been fired. I’d just graduated college, lived at home and wasn’t making much money, and I was often paired with a dull woman whom I couldn’t stand. The Norwich University job was a welcome change, one that I’ve never regretted taking. I still stopped by the bookstore regularly – I still had a couple of friends who worked at the branch, and because Borders was kind enough to continue to send coupons via their rewards program, I had a good incentive to shop there.
The past year, I’ve missed working at the bookstore – a bit. When I first worked at the store, I had a very positive outlook on just how a bookstore would be, and that lasted for a little while, before it became a form of hardened cynasism – the bookstore wasn’t a place of books, it was a store, one with goals, objectives and key items that needed to be sold. Rewards cards had to be checked, signed up and logged, drawers had to be counted over and over again, and the customers take on an attitude that we’re not there to help them, we’re there to serve them. Thinking back, I wasn’t sure why I really missed working there.
Stepping back behind the register desk, going up to customers and everything came flooding back when I went back last night. I actually remembered my old store code, how to work the register, and everything that I really needed to know to start up again. The Berlin Mall hasn’t changed from an employee’s point of view. The same customers walk up and down the hallway, the food is still just as greasy and bad as I remembered it. Essentially, almost nothing has changed.
But, returning there, I realize just how much I’ve changed in the meantime. My entire view of customers, the business process and the book industry has changed as a result of my work at the bookstore and the ensuing years of different customer service sort of work, as well as how I think about problems and approach solutions, for the better, I think. I still anticipate customer problems, but I’m far more confident in myself and how I work that I can address these sorts of things in a much better and more mentally-stable fashion. That’s the plan anyway.