Wednesday, December 5, 2007


As many of you know, I volunteer at the NYPL on 77th and york. I work in the "Book Seller" (the only used bookstore owned by the public library) and I'm in charge of the film, theatre, music and television section. It's really well kept and beautiful and I take pride in the fact that it's one of the most organized sections of the store.
Now, I usually go in there for two or three hours a week. That's all I need to finish my shit and it works beautifully. However, there is that odd day when I'll finish everything that needs to be done in about ten minutes. On those days I occupy myself by reading books that I can't steal because they're too big to fit in my backpack. Good deal, right? Wrong.
Every so often some militant asshole will see me doing nothing and make sure I get some other shit job for my remaining time. Breaking down boxes, sweeping up the storage room or putting those little plastic sleeves on the hardcovers. These I'm OK with. They all have their therapeutic charm and go well to some mellow jazz on the store speakers. What I hate, dear readers, is when they tell me to organize another section.
What this says to me is: "Kevin, you did a great job and continually do a great job maintaining your books. Some other asshole doesn't have your skill so it's your job to clean their shit up". In reality what they say is "Kevy wevy, could you organize the poetry section? Please?" Still it gets on my nerves.
Today I had to clean up the politics section and (appropriately) it was a train wreck. I did my job and STILL had time to kill, so I did what any other person would do: I un-did my job and did it again. And again, and again, and again.
"Wow" they would say. "Kevin's really cleaning up that section". It never fails.
Today however that same militant asshole who assigned me the job must have had one of his cronies spying on me, because he ran over and said: "DID YOU JUST ALPHABETIZE THOSE BOOKS, SHUFFLE THEM AROUND, THEN RE-ALPHABETIZE THEM?"
I really had nothing to say. I could see the Grand Theft Auto font floating over my head as a camera mounted on a helicopter flew away, keeping me in frame, rocking back and forth:
"Yeah. Sorry. I'm a little under the weather today"
The minute I said it I realized I had my bullshit excuses for fucked-up situations mixed up.
Again. Deer in headlights.
After a few beats of awkwardness I said:
"I didn't do that. I took these off the shelf because there was a book trapped behind them, you know that space behind the shelved books and the shelf itself?"
He stared at me, pissed off. I thought I was done for. After an even longer pause, he goes:
"OOOOHH. God I just hate that space. Good work." and waddled off.