"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" ~ C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Borders Means to Me: An Open Letter

Dear Borders Customers,

To me, Borders was more than a job. It was more than a paycheck. It was more than thinly veiled slavery in helping you find that book you wanted. It was more than clocking in and clocking out. It was more than putting books on the shelves and straightening the aisles.

Borders was my life. Borders was coworkers that drove me crazy and made me love them all at the same time. Borders was sharing crazy stories and passing down epic hilarity. ("The man with the gun is here for the money.") Borders was making friendships. Borders was discovering things in common.

Borders was wearing reindeer antlers the week before Christmas and having someone laugh and say they couldn't get mad at Rudolph. Borders was re-reading the Twilight books to come up with trivia for the release of Breaking Dawn. Borders was dressing up as a Witch and making potions with little kids in the hall for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Borders was wearing a Dorothy costume to work on Halloween.

Borders was storytime every Wednesday with Miss Alicia. Borders was laughing at the juggling baristas in the cafe. Borders was dueling cashiers on the Saturday before Christmas. Borders was satisfaction over a newly straightened section. Borders was giggling over the cycloptic elephants. Borders was three people pushing a bargain cart piled so high it weighed a ton. Borders was getting to know the NEMF guy on a first name basis. Borders was cafe samples on the information desk.

Borders was meeting local authors that really cared and loved to come in and talk (We Love you Michelle Zink! You too Owen Palmiotti!). Borders was events that fell in our lap (Brandon Mull!) Borders was obnoxious local authors that we hid from (no names here, but true story). Borders was going to BEA with coworkers and geeking out that we got something signed by one of our favorite authors.

Borders was exchanging book titles and sharing new authors, both with customers and with coworkers. Borders was dancing with glee when a favorite author's latest book arrived. Borders was gawking over a gorgeous cover and reading a new author we never would have discovered otherwise. Borders was reading.

Borders was asking a little kid what kind of book they liked to read and handing them an old favorite. Borders was helping grandma find the perfect gift for her grandson. Borders was directing a woman to other historical fiction she might like. Borders was a fifteen minute conversation with a man about science fiction books. Borders was a middle school girl saying, "you helped me last time and gave me really good books. What should I get now?" Borders was passing on the love of books and authors and reading to anyone and everyone who was willing to listen.

Borders was more than a store. Borders was a home. A home for learning and sharing. For friendships and fun. For the regular shopper and the once a year visitor. For the browser and the hunter.

These are the things I worked for. These are the things I will miss.

So, to those of you just looking for a deal? To those annoyed that the books aren't cheap enough? Those angry that we can't find your specific book? Those smirking over the fact that we "deserve to lose our jobs"? To you? We didn't do this for you. We never did.

Borders was the people. The people that loved reading, that loved books, that loved the atmosphere you can only find in a bookstore. And it's those people that I will miss the most.

It was a great five years and I know I will never have another experience like this.

Goodbye Borders. It was fun.


Summer Frey said...

I also worked at Borders (in the cafe) for almost a year, back in college. Hands down, my favorite job ever. One of my best friends wouldn't be my best friend if not for that place.

I don't even know if I'll be able to drive by the one I used to work at anymore...

Jessica said...

You put into words what I haven't been able to do for about a month now....

Marebabe said...

Well, now, that was just beautiful and descriptive and classy. Well done! It occurred to me that your local newspaper might like to publish this on their op-ed page. So many editorials are all about complaints. This one brought a smile to my face! :) See?!

Anonymous said...

I worked for Borders for 7 and 1/2 years until my store closed in April. The liquidation was brutal. You nailed it! Thank you.

nilvento said...

Nicely said. I actually opened my store and now I'll get to close it.

Cory said...

Well said.

Laura Marcella said...

This makes me sad because I miss my Borders a lot. :( We got a Books-A-Million in place of the Borders Express near me, but the Borders superstore a few miles away from me is still vacant. Sigh.

Thanks for sharing this heartfelt, meaningful post. And thanks to all of you wonderful Borders employees! :)

Naomi Ruth said...

My deasrest sister and co-Borders-employee...

You made me cry.