Well, it’s a little hard to believe, but this is my last week working for Half Price Books.
I’ve spent four and a half years of my life toiling alongside some amazing co-laborers. I’m grateful for each of them and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’m not sure I’ve wrapped my mind around the fact that I won’t be at the Roseville HPB on a regular basis anymore. That’s giving me a bit of a brain freeze. And since I’m an external processor, here’s what I’ve been unpacking as I think about stepping away from Retail-land into Mommydom:
Firstly, no one gives retail workers the credit they deserve until they have tried working in retail; it’s the proverbial “walk a mile in my shoes” troupe. No one gets how tough it is. To work in retail is: to do your job while constantly on display, always interrupted from your tasks, receiving constant negative criticism from a varying peanut gallery, asked to put aside your own human needs to serve others, while barely making a living wage with terrible hours that affect literally all aspects of your social life. That is the ugliest description of retail work but it is 100% accurate. In no way will I miss that. But I’m walking into the exact same job “perks” by being a full-time mom. So, oh well, guess I’m not dodging THAT bullet! 😛
Secondly, no one can prepare you for the utter joy of working alongside people who don’t let “that retail BS” get them down. Rising to the challenge together cements the kind of friendships that get you through all the awful stuff. There were multiple days on the job that my coworkers literally made my day 100% better. There were MANY days where I showed up to work unable to put aside my personal life, and the 096 HPB staff listened to me complain, gave me hugs, bought me candy coffee and in general, reminded me that it’s okay to be human. Man, I just don’t deserve that kind of love.
So here’s to you: Craig, Jess, Britta, David, Aidan, Jena – you underpaid, marvelous leaders of the Roseville crew, who boldly step into your roles with everything you have. You are some of the best people I have ever met. Some personal notes for you six:
Craig – Thank you for taking a chance on hiring the weirdly blunt girl in 2014. Thank you for every time you said something nice to me about my work, even if it didn’t seem like I accepted it. I heard you. It mattered. And thank you for your sarcasm and wit, they were invaluable tools to poke holes in my heavy moods. I hope you actually visit every last park and national forest in Minnesota with Sara in that RV of yours. You deserve it.
Jess – your gentle direction and empathetic ear have been such a calming influence in my life. I sincerely respect and want to be more like you. I’m so glad you are the assistant manager. You bring something to the Roseville staff that no one else does, they are lucky to have you as a leader.
Britta – you’ve reminded me that there are other humans on the planet who take pride in a job well done because girl, YOU GET S*** DONE. I respect how you are authentic no matter where you are and I’m still sorry I ate your digestive biscuits that one time. 😉
David (DAVIIIIIIIID!) – I will never NOT think of you when I read those ridiculous David books to my kid. I’ve enjoyed laughing with you and seeing you step into leadership this last year, handling it with the skilz we all knew you brought to the challenge. You are an awesome shift leader, and make everyone feel comfortable to be themselves.
Aidan – Thanks for being my vegan-recipe guinea pig and never saying no when I offer you a bite of some random thing I’ve made. You are a steady rock of shift leader goodness and the Roseville staff is lucky to have you on their team.
Jena – (taking a moment to steady myself emotionally before I type this) I will never not miss you. Thank you for…listening to me, hugging me when I cried, constantly loving me with homemade spicy stuff, buying me hundreds of snacks and drinks from the gas station & Dunn Bros over the past 4 years, having an “open door” policy about food on your shelf (but not the Thin Mints, or she will cut you), sharing Hamilton with me, drawing that amazing comic strip for Nayt’s birthday, asking me about my life, sharing yours…for being an unexpected and much cherished perk of my job. This small paragraph barely touches on the exhaustive list of things I’m grateful to you for, my dear dear friend. You are an amazing SIM, which is stating the obvious. HPB corporate has no idea what a gem of a human they have working in 096. May all your future shipments from Texas scan in correctly and an ever-increasing quantity of books you don’t already own about Bruce Springsteen and Lin Manuel-Miranda cross your path. 🙂
And for the rest of you lovely staff members: Aaron, Grace, Kai, Ellie, Elise, Rowan, Eric, Kevin, Keith, Alec, Tom, Taylor, Carroll/Poe, Silas, Ainsley, Malika, and Christian: way to make the Roseville HPB the best Half Price in the state! 🙂 You are literally the coolest people and I’ve enjoyed worked with you. Some personal notes for each of you:
Aaron – Dude, is there anything you can’t fix?!? Thank you for sharing your homemade salsa, coming to fix our front door and making our feral kitty shelter! Your knowledge and work ethic make the Roseville HPB a better place. I’ll miss the smell of your gigantic coffee thermos, hearing about your homesteader goals and sweet cello-gig life.
Grace – I have nothing but respect for the way you ATTACK shelving. You single-handedly set the standard for efficiency at HPB, for serious. I have loved that we can simultaneously price the entire table and have a conversation about Benjamin’s and Rudi’s latest antics, because you are truly the queen of multi-tasking. You never show up to work for any other reason than to work. I have mad respect for that. 096 is lucky to have you.
Kai – Man, I don’t want to think about not being around your face 5 days/week! 😦 I’ve thoroughly enjoyed co-laboring in the kids/YA/Teen section with you and fully trust that you will direct all interested parties to the right, mind-opening portals they need from our section. 🙂 You are truly one of the kindest people I know. And if you do not text me random, cute pictures of Radar this summer, I will be sad.
Ellie – Thank GOD you came over when Crystal closed, cause man, we needed some Ellie in our store! I love your energy and how you connect with people, because you really value people. You are a beautiful person and I will never not drink an Arnold Palmer from Dunn Brothers or see Po’s face on anything Star Wars related without thinking of you. Please tell me the next time you wanna do karaoke cause I wanna be there!
Elise – (guttural moan) I don’t want to leave you! 😦 You are the bestest and greatest of bouncy, Tiggery peoples with an infectious laugh and a heart of gold. Thank you for coming over to sewing dates, for laughing over stupid cat memes, for sharing what’s under the surface with you, for real feedback and real love. You are a good bean, a good good bean. The customers at 096 don’t deserve you. I will miss seeing your face, so send me lots of pictures of it (and the cool Rey costume when it’s done).
Rowan – The LP pricing machine! We literally would have nothing good to sell without you on the team, for serious. Thank you for selflessly and single-handedly pricing all the stuff everyone else hates to price! You provide a great resource of nerdiness and niche knowledge that 096 needs. Resist the urge to buy all the sweet board games, dude. You can do it. 🙂
Eric – strong, silent and mad helpful! You, sir, I respect for your kind tone with customers and your general willingness to help anyone (staff or guest) with whatever they need. I hope that during your time at HPB, you feel valued for the great work you do. Keep on, keepin’ on, sir!
Kevin – man, that Nost section was hella sad before you came along! You do such great, focused work in there and I’m generally impressed with how you single-handedly turned that entire alcove around within a few weeks of transferring to 096. May all your future nostalgia pricing session be uninhibited by leeches like me wanting to use Jena’s computer. 😉
Keith – in the short time that you have joined our crew, you have made an irrevocable impact on me, and not just cause you constantly offer the pregnant lady your french fries! 🙂 You are genuinely kind and give amazing customer service, meeting each person you encounter where they are. If every single retail worker in the whole world were like you, the whole of humanity would feel very seen and served. Thank you for being a selfless example of what it means to be a great employee and human. And “Go Canada!”
Alec – You have a contagious smile, sir. And even the grumpiest of stoic persons would crack at your self-deprecating wit. Thank you for being you and adjusting to the chaos of HPB so quickly! You are an asset to the crew!
Tom – I can’t think of you and not smile. Your quiet humor and diligent work ethic are respectable. Thanks for the moments when you made me chuckle over something snarky you said under your breath. I’m glad you ditched stinky St. Louis Park for us. 😉
Taylor – You are a quiet and sweet addition to the staff. You work to make the register area productive and not a giant mess, which I super respect. I’m so glad that Craig hired you! 🙂 Make sure all the good Disney films get sleeved and I hope more of those Little Mermaid comics come in for you!
Carroll (or Poe) – Thank you for repeatedly calling my baby “delicious” after asking what fruit or veg size it was on a weekly basis. LOL. Your energy and personality make 096 a more fun place to be. I’ll miss seeing what color you dye your hair next time and hearing about your crazy nieces and nephews. Pet all the pups for me. ALL of them.
Silas – (sigh) This sucks. I’ve liked hearing about what you’re writing, and how much you love helping other people not suck at writing. 🙂 You are a beautiful soul and I will miss working alongside you, hearing your laugh and co-miserating about stupid retail woes. Make sure that sidelines section doesn’t look horrible, dude. Jena is counting on you. 😉
Ainsley – I just feel like I’m starting to get to know you! Thanks for every time you’ve asked me about baby things. You are a big sweetheart and I’m glad the Roseville staff includes you. May all the things you secretly desire come across your path at the buy counter, until you need to resist buying all the things so you can afford groceries. 🙂 Then I hope NOTHING tempting crosses your path!
Malika – Girl, you are killin’ those history alcoves. Way to leap in and make things happen over there. And I’ve appreciated every time you’ve said something that reveals just a little bit of what’s going on under the surface with you. It’s reminded me that we ALL have things going on under the surface with us, and I appreciate the reminder to love on humans where each of us are at any given moment. 🙂
and Christian – last because you are the newest addition to the team! Welcome! May your summer at HPB be full of awesome. I know the training period can be really overwhelming (it was for me), and I know you will rise to the challenge! 🙂 Hope that during your time at HPB, you feel included and free to be yourself. This is the greatest team of people, for real. You ARE welcome.
So, that’s it. Just 4 more shifts with some of the greatest people alive. Hard not to be sad about that, even though my reason for leaving is to tackle a job I’ve wanted for 8 years. I’ll miss you, Half Price Books. Thank you for being a place for me to be myself, for the sweet SWEET discount and the wonderful chance to rub shoulders with other bibliomaniacs. It’s been a wonderful 4+ years.