I don’t work in a bookstore. It is probably what I was meant to do.
“You’re a natural teacher,” my mother said. Then why was I so tired?
Teachers were all tired. As the only Latin teacher I had three preparations (most had two) and taught five classes a day (most taught four). I went home and took a nap, or zoomed off to aerobics class to work out the tension. And then I prepared. And then I got up at 5 a.m.to grade homework and quizzes.
According to Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a study in 2012 called Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession found that the average teacher works 53 hours a week. That sounds about right.
Eventually I found a more creative job with flex-time. I enjoyed it more, but I admit I worked on my wedding day. “I just have to finish this up…”
Why didn’t I work in a bookstore? Wouldn’t the hours have been more reasonable?
I love books. I sold them without meaning to. I would go to a bookstore, chat about books, and sometimes a bookseller would come over beaming to say I’d sold a book.
I also amused myself by doing the “first sentence test.” I read a lot of first sentences. The first sentence test isn’t too bad, really. And other people started reading first sentences… and I sold books that way, too.
I did work at a bookstore briefly in Iowa City when I took a year off from college. The men got to work on the floor with the books; we women had to be cashiers. Hard to believe it was so sexist back then, but it was. And we women all loved books: there was one college graduate among us, one student, another woman on a gap year, and a smart head cashier.
The good thing about working in the bookstore was that we got to borrow books. The bad thing was that I used to buy the books. Madness! Here is my copy of The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence. It cost $12.50. I made $1.60 an hour. I put my money back into the store! And so I had to leave.
If I had been allowed to work with the books, I would have stayed and had a different fate!