Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cure for Crazy

Cure for Crazy

After spending several hours crouched in the self-help section I suddenly began to feel better about my life. That is primarily because while scanning the section in (my monotonous robot-like task for the day) I realized that never in my life have a I felt the need to browse the self-help section of any bookstore. Never have I thought one might be a good idea as a gift, nor have I even considered searching for a book to solve whatever problems may be weighing down my soul.

This feeling of superiority led me to have a rather bemused look on my face throughout the day. This was not diminished by the fact that I found a book titled “Never be used again” right next to “Make people do anything for you” by the same author. The Irony had clearly escaped the author, and more importantly the buyers who seemed to gobble up both texts with glee. Finding self-help books written by everyone from Chuck Norris to Kanye West, I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would ever read these books. Who would want to tips for living from Kristie Alley? Or Advice on the sanctity of Marriage from Jessica Simpson? Or a book of life lessons written by the 20 year-old actress who played Meadow on the Soprano’s? Who Cares? I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea why these books would be printed, and who in their right mind would buy them

It was around the time I discovered the Chuck Norris self help book “The Secret Power Within” that I was first approached by a customer. It was a frail looking blond girl, about my age I’d guess, although her malnourished body made her look much older.

“Can I help you find something?” I asked, realizing a moment after I said it what this would entail. Working in a bookstore you can learn a lot about peoples tastes, imaginations and political views. There are also conversations like this one, the kind that stay with you after the customer leaves. The kind you struggle with throughout the day, wondering if you handled the topic with the care and ease it needed. The woman gazed at me with her olive green eyes and whispered something barely audible

“I’m Sorry?” I asked, louder and more forceful than I probably should have been. A pair of tween girls who we’re looking at the sex section giggled and I glared at them. They quickly dropped the guide to fellacio they were leafing through and skidded out of sight. I turned back to the woman to see that she was crying.

Overall I am a pretty empathetic person, but this moment was different. It wasn’t that I couldn’t feel the obvious pain the girl was dealing with, but that I had no idea what to say to her. She knew from the look on my face that I could see she was crying and so, embarrassed she turned and rushed down the aisle in the opposite direction.

“Wait!” I shouted, as I started towards her. She stopped short and turned around, wiping the tears from her eyes. She walked toward me and instinctively, I put my arms out. I had no idea who this woman was, or for that matter why she was crying but there I was standing in the middle of the bookstore hugging her. It was at this moment I realized why people come to this section in the first place. Not because they care what the authors really think, but simply that they need someone. Even if that someone is an author they have never met, or a stranger at a bookstore.

It was at this moment I realized I had not taken a shower this morning, nor had I bothered to put on deodorant in my rush out the house…

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