I’ve recently concluded truck travel from Maryland down to Florida, out to California, and back by way of Colorado. This is how much I hate to fly—and how much I enjoy driving the open road.I used my rambles to stop in at several dozen Barnes and Noble bookstores, as well as a few indies, and a couple pf Books a Millions. I figure as long as I’m in the neighborhood, why not sign my stock? Every bookstore was willing to accommodate that request, though one fellow asked for identification. (I write under a pseudonym… We pulled up my website on my phone, and there I am, in grinning, Grace Burrowes, color.)
As I stood at the customer service counter, scribbling away, I cast around for small talk, and ended up asking, “So how do you like working here?”At first, it was just idle chit-chat, but the answers I got prompted
“I love it here. I never want to work anywhere else.”
“I’ve been with the company seventeen years, and I hope I’m good for another seventeen.”
“This is the job I was born to do.”
“I love my job. Love it.”
Not a single bookseller said, “It pays the bills.” Or, “This just until something better comes along.” Or, “Retail is tough, you know?” Not one. Nada. Zero. Bupkiss.
Now, some allowances must be made for public relations training—customer service is typically in the middle of the floor, and the stacks have ears—but I didn’t hear a hesitation, a qualification, a whispered aside, to suggest these sentiments were anything other than the heartfelt truth, time after time.
If I conducted the same sort of informal poll in three dozen law offices, three dozen landscape service companies, or three dozen bakeries, somebody would have a little grumbling to do.
Not the booksellers, at least not at the stores I visited. This amazes me and encourages me as an author and as a human being. It restores my faith in the idea that any occupation can be a calling (even writing romance novels), and that in a world full of negativity and doubt, there’s at least one group of people happy--thrilled!--to make a contribution in a relatively unsung and uncelebrated role.
Have you come across somebody who made a humble undertaking into a vocation? Somebody who could bake the daylights out of a cake? Deliver the mail with verve and panache? Drive the school bus as if it were a joy and a privilege? What occupation would you consider your calling, if you could chose any profession?
To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of "Nicholas," a Lonely Lord whose calling in life is to love and be loved…