I Loved My Job as a Bookseller—Then Covid-19 Transformed It
Every time I tell a customer that we’re not open for browsing, I know I am reminding them of how Covid-19 has disrupted our rhythms and routines, robbed us of numerous small pleasures.
The bright green numerals in the top right-hand corner of the computer screen that tracked incoming website orders kept climbing: 7, then 12, 29, 39, 65, 78. The phone rang every few minutes, and whoever picked it up strained to hear the customer over the squawk of clear plastic shipping tape being yanked from its dispenser and affixed to an outgoing package.
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I, too, want the pandemic to be over. Every time I tell a disappointed customer that we’re not open for browsing, I know I am reminding them of how Covid-19 has disrupted our rhythms and routines, robbed us of numerous small pleasures and rituals that used to brighten our days. But I don’t know what precautions our customers are taking (or not taking) in their daily lives. I do know that some of my bookseller colleagues have high-risk family members, and that I don’t want to put their health and safety—or mine—in jeopardy just so a few more customers can get the buzzy new bestseller into their hands the day it hits our shelves.
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