A Dream

4 02 2008

I went to San Francisco because I’d somehow found out about a job I might enjoy. I think a friend who already lived out there found out about it and told me to come. I arrived at a rickety old wooden building near the bay, and as I climbed the narrow, unadorned stairs to the business, the smell of salt water got stronger and stronger. The wood in the whole place was grainy, being unfinished or finished very long ago. It was all grey and utilitarian, with little or no decoration. It was a little dark, but reasonable, and I was grateful and impressed that there were no fluorescent lights. There were lamps here and there, but the rest of the light was natural–there were large paned windows high up on the second floor of the narrow store, which was open to the first level, and which was accessible by a spiral staircase. It was an old book store, and the shelves were high along the walls, and short, maybe four feet, in the middle. There were maybe four or five rows of these short bookshelves within the width of the store, with a long counter on the side you face as you enter.

There were a lot of employees for an old, musty bookstore, and they all instantly acted as my friends who were excited about my working with them. They showed me around the store and I began to see how special it was to them, and simply how special it was. It had a terrific energy about it, and everyone was grateful to be there, with those books, in that space, with those people. There might not have even been any customers; everyone was an employee, that I can remember. They were mostly younger people, 20 to 35 or so in age, and none of them seemed dressed “appropriately,” for whatever that’s worth. Several of the guys weren’t wearing shirts, and there was neon hair, ripped shorts, bare feet, and on and on.

All of the employees started yelling out things to me about how to get the job, what things to say I cared about, what books to say I liked, et cetera, but they were all halfway joking. People physically closer to me told me that I was going to get the job because they could tell I was one of them. They told me not to worry, and to be myself. I started walking around the store and asking them questions, but it wasn’t slow and methodical–it was more like a show, and everyone was doing their jobs with exaggerated movement, with extra joi de vivre, listening to me. I started making suggestions for how things could get even better, and people were responding enthusiastically.

An older, haggardly woman then came in, with a large white dog, damp from presumably playing on the beach, and nobody paid her any mind. I instinctively took her to be the owner, and I continued on my tour and talk, figuring this was to be as good an interview as could be, seeing me interact with the store and the people. I was getting excited anyway, and didn’t want to lose my momentum.

Sometime after I spoke about being able to design a database to be able to keep track of our inventory and making things easier to find, she cut me off, and introduced herself as the owner of the shop. Everyone stopped working and filtered down to good vantage points to see what she was going to say. They were all holding their breaths. I don’t remember how she said it, but she told me, in grizzled disregarding fashion that thinly veiled her thrill, that I can start whenever I wanted, provided I’d shut my mouth.

Everyone cheered, and I was the newest member of some weird bookstore. I remember also thinking that this whole crew was kind of like a more functional Empire Records gang… and I got mad at myself in the dream for the comparison. I even almost didn’t record it here. But, hey, for veracity’s sake and all that.




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