I was chatting with Dave one evening last week when I peered down at my ruddy knuckles and ragged nails, ripped up cuticles and box-cutter wounds. I really noticed them for the first time since we moved the bookstore. I said, "You have to take a picture, oh my gosh look at my hands!" I've never been able to commit to manicures (too hyper to sit, plus I'm hand-spastic, causing chips) but that night I realized that the current state of my hands reminded me of my grandmother MacGregor's. In a good way, because hers were veiny and battered and fascinating -- "bad-ass" hands my daughter would say. They told a story, and now so do mine.
My grandparents were Scottish and Bohemian Ellis Island immigrants who worked hard and settled in Maywood and Forest Park. When children came along in the thirties they wanted for them all the benefits early 20th century America could provide. Both sets of grands emphasized college to their children even though if you combined all four together, they had very few years of post grammar school education. Each couple had two kids, and three of the four went to Northwestern University in Evanston. My outlier mom wanted to major in home economics and Iowa State beckoned (I followed her there a few decades later and loved every minute).
I graduated college and law school and worked with my hands only in that they typed what my educated thoughts were. When I knew my cozy entrepreneurial incubator, Toms Price, had sold their building I thought hard about next steps. After raising kids and giving bookstore ownership a shot, maybe it was time to see what the 21st century could offer me. It was a good time to try, with two in college and one on her way to law school. So I updated my resume, fitting onto one page what I might have to offer.
But all the while, I kept amusing myself with what a bookstore owner's resume would look like. In this biz it's not necessary to have gone to college and if you have a degree, your major or GPA don't matter. In bookland, everyone does everything so there's no real hierarchy or jockeying for promotions: I clean the toilet, dust the shelves and take out the garbage, cut open boxes of books (note: sometimes causes bleeding) and straighten shelves. There's no real corporate culture to navigate, other than Stay Curious, Be Helpful and Volunteer to Cover Shifts When Someone's Kid is Sick or Dad Fell Down. Wait, that sounds pretty good ...
My job is to read a lot and share my thoughts on books. Chat everyday with the sort of people that value reading and local business. Work with smart and friendly colleagues who believe in and are proud of what they do. Have a centuries-old occupation, one that I could explain to Leonardo da Vinci with three words: "I sell books."
What was I thinking, updating my resume?? I have the best job in the world. And bad-ass hands to go with.