Anyway, so I was recovering the cooking section the other day (I love that term: "recovering."It implies a recent disaster, which is what customers are for the organization of bookstores) when I came across this book in food reference:
"While Phoebe Damrosch was waiting for life to happen, she supported herself by working as a waitress." That's how the book describes itself, and I thought about it the rest of the day. Is that what I'm doing? "While Haylie Swenson was waiting for life to happen, she supported herself by working in a bookstore." Am I also just waiting for life to happen? I don't love working at Borders. I love books, for sure, and I love making recommendations and helping people find something new. But that doesn't happen very often: mostly, I spend my time at the register or by helping people to find the latest short lived, badly written bestseller. This, obviously, isn't what I went to college for.
I was discouraged--am discouraged still, sometimes, when I compare myself to my more successful friends and family. But then, suddenly, like a vision, I pictured the opening sequence to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, that part where she flings her hat in the air. Honestly? That's pretty much the only part of the show I remember (that and, inexplicably, the part where her boss asks about her religion in the first episode). I used to watch it on Nick at Nite, and I was always terribly impressed by how independent she seemed, how joyful.
That's when it occurred to me: I'm not just waiting for my life to start, any more than Phoebe Damrosch was waiting for her life to start when she was waiting tables. After all, she wrote an entire (New York Times Notable) book out of it, right? So it couldn't have been that bad, although I'm sure she felt like she was wasting her time, too. Mary had a terrible job (I seem to remember that, too), but she still managed to throw her hat in the air at the beginning of every show. So here's to the Phoebe Damroschs and the Mary Tyler Moores and everyone else slogging away at a job for which you are underpaid and overqualified.
And please: next time you're in a bookstore, put your books back where you found them.