Tonight marks the end of an era in my life. After nine years as a Barnes & Noble bookseller (seasonal during college, then full-time, then part-time), tonight I'll work my final shift. And after 18 years of operation in Wheaton's Town Square shopping center, my B&N store will close its doors for good on December 31st. Sniff.
Though I look forward to having my Wednesday nights back (especially now that I have a husband to go home to) I'm sad to see my store close, and there are many things I will miss about working there. I'll miss chatting with Anne, my favorite manager. I'll miss swapping "crazy customer" stories with Rick, my regular shift co-worker, who in his free time translates the absurdities of retail bookselling into really well-drawn cartoons starring a voluptuous, sarcastic llama with a killer collection of high heels and a host of other animal characters. I'll miss seeing all the new releases come out. I'll miss recommending my favorite books to customers, and having them return to tell me later how much they enjoyed the titles I'd recommended. I think I'll even miss exercising my spatial reasoning skills for merchandising displays. And, of course, I'll miss my paycheck and employee discount.
There are also some things I won't miss. I won't miss shelving. I won't miss picking up after customers who leave huge stacks of books or magazines lying about, or their empty Starbucks cup on the shelf. I won't miss parents who think their darling children do not require supervision. I won't miss the occasional prank caller, out to test my composure and professionalism. I won't miss impatient customers with unreasonable last-minute requests.
And so, Barnes & Noble, here I come for my last shift. We've had a good run.
UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune ran an article on the store's closing. Did you know that Charles Barnes and his son William (who partnered with G. Clifford Noble) were from Wheaton? They were. Which is why B&N's CEO chose Wheaton as the location for the first store in Illinois. BTW: Ignore what the reporter says about the Oakbrook store (yes, the location on Rt 83 closed, but only because they opened a megastore attached to the mall across the street).