I’ve figured out what I want to do when I retire.
I can’t go into detail, but the past two weeks have been the busiest and most stressful of my career. I’ve left the office after 9 more often than I’ve left before 6. It has taken a toll. (It’s also why my reading and writing production has fallen off a cliff.)
Most (though not all) of the misery ended today because our deadline was at noon and we submitted it at 11:59. We’re overachievers like that. As soon as it was sent, I grabbed my keys and headed to the parking garage.
Originally, I was just going to get something to eat from somewhere that wasn’t the cafeteria, but then I remembered that the town next to the one in which I work has a small, independent bookstore called The Bookworm. I had a destination.
It was just what I needed. A quaint two-room cottage, it had creaking floors and was cramped with books. I was the only customer at the time and there was barely enough room for me. There were also handwritten notes peeking out of the top of some of the titles. Some were generic – “National Book Award Winner!” – but others were much more personal, like the slip poking out of Candice Bergen’s second autobiography, A Fine Romance, which touted both the humor and the heart of the work and also praised the writing. It was like having a fellow bibliophile shopping with you, telling you what to buy.
After more than a half-hour of perusing, I figured it was time to return to reality. I chose two books – the Pulitzer Prize-winning analysis of Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power, and a book I first learned of from Ryan Holiday, Shadow Divers. I approached the register and spoke to the two women who were sitting behind it eating lunch. I told them how much I liked their store and that I would be back.
One of them pointed to the other and said, “She’s the owner.” I said hello and once again complimented the store. Then, after a few more minutes of chatting, I left and began to think about how great it would be to run a store like that. You wouldn’t make a ton of cash, but if you keep the overhead low, you’ll always have customers. Even Amazon can’t kill the indie bookstore.
Yeah, I think I’ve found my post-retirement career. Now I just need to make it to retirement…
Here’s what I wrote this week:
“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?”
– Henry Ward Beecher
Christopher Pierznik’s eight books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.