For the past two quarters (6 months), I’ve been working at the UCSD Bookstore. When I was hired in December 2016, I was trained as a cashier and have been manning many a register from the absolute dead weeks of winter break to text book rush in the first week of Winter and Spring quarter. From the very beginning though, I’ve always wanted to work in the books department of the bookstore, lovingly known as book info. Over the six months working as a cashier I began to work my foot into the door, meeting the people in the department (AKA the best people in the world) and jumping at every opportunity to work the register by the book information desk. Slowly but surely, I made fast friends and felt a deep personal connection and bonded with the people around me over a mutual love of (SURPRISE!) books.
There’s Syd, quietly hilarious and at work behind the scenes in the back offices; Alexiss, who shares my love for twenty one pilots and is always ordering straight glasses of almond milk from our adjacent coffee shop; Sean, who is my age, constantly carrying a stack of paperwork, and is too fun to mess around with; Jake, whose top 3 favorite books of all time we can all recite to you (Catch-22, Slaughterhouse Five, and The Stranger), always with clipboard in hand and pencil tucked behind his ear; Selina, her gorgeous curls bound in braids or up in a bun, whose taste in books most frequently overlaps with mine and has never given me a bad recommendation, and the mom of our book info mascot, Watson the corgi pup. And last but not least there is Maddy.
Maddy deserves a special shout out. She is the first close friend I made in both the department and the store. Upon meeting her in my first week working, I hurled myself so far out of my comfort zone as to express interest in one day working in book info. Maddy held on to what I thought was a passing comment, but she remembered it. Every time I was at the book info register she would pass on mini-training bits on shelving, classification, how to use the computer system, and when the time came she referred me to Teri, her (now our, mutual) manager. If I put my foot in the door by voicing aloud my wish to be in this department, Maddy is the one who opened it for me.
For the last few months, I have unofficially been in the process of transferring departments – switching the coverage schedule around so I can work the register in books and receive more Maddy-special-mini-training tidbits, and in this past week I officially got moved and am now a bookseller. This job is a literal dream for me; it has it days and will have it’s days like any other job/work, but for the most part I love what I am paid to do. It has been the most rewarding thing to watch as “______ recommends …” tags written by me sell copies of books that previously sat on the shelves for months, or to hand sell in person and get to talk up my favorite books with customers.
As an independent bookstore, we get to do something really special – celebrating Indie Bookstore Day. Selina, bless her soul, put on an incredible event in the store with multiple author talks, activities, and music. And I owe her and Teri the biggest thank you as well for not only asking me to speak as an author at Indie Bookstore Day but to also be able to sell the book of poetry that I wrote in our store. Seeing my book here on campus, in a bookstore, among other great poets and famous titles (Lang Leav, Andrea Gibson, Rupi Kaur), was so surreal. And even more so rewarding to watch all 6 copies I brought into the store sell.
I didn’t come to college expecting to find a place to call home, but I ended up finding two, one in the city of San Diego, and here at a workplace that gives me a wonderful support system in so many ways and takes such good care of me. After an amazing first official week on the job, I can say with love and pride that I look forward to many more in my last two years at UCSD.