Sunday, July 24, 2011

Borders... If you see me getting high, knock me down...

I saw a great t-shirt on a kid today. It said:
"Buy Art Not Shoes"
I intentionally keep my day jobs away from my presence on the internet. But since I haven't worked for Borders since 2004, and soon they will just be a memory I figured, who cares?
People keep asking me about how I feel about the end of Borders. And I keep saying nice simple, short things like "It's too bad." or "Shame so many of the people I care about will be out of work" and so on... And them I'm asked: "No, really, what do you think?" And I've been brushing off answering it. I wanted to make sure to use the right words. And as a writer, it's easier to sit down, with a coffee or a beer and think it out.

Well, I think it sucks.

I went into the Farmington Connecticut store tonite with Brie. And it actually made me sad. I didn't give as shit when Strawberries folded, and when Media Play shut down I smiled. When Record Express went under I saw it coming... I worked at all these places too. But there is something different about Borders. I don't know what it is.
I spent five years working for Borders. The golden years, when the staff was specialized, and the stock was varied... It was a place to buy that book no one else had and get a CD you'd never thought any store would have in stock. As I was in process of leaving in 2004 I saw the writing on the wall for it's demise if things didn't change quick. I'm not going to get into why Borders is no more... I'll let Slate writer Annie Lowery do that HERE.
What I'm going to do is babble here about my experiences with the shops... And what its meant to me.

What I did get for five years at Borders?
Love. Inspiration. Friendship.

To this day I still talk with people I met while working there. There wouldn't even be an Elmwood Productions as we know it if it wasn't for Borders. It's where I met Jim and Russ. We worked there together, and the seeds were planted there for a wild future. The main character for "Josh and Todd" was created there and inspired by a co-worker named Josh, who also did time in Elmwood Productions... I could list the friends I made here, but that would be a post all by its self so please don't be offended if I didn't name drop you! I came up with Johnnie Sojive while working in South Tampa at Store 148. I was over caffeinated, working in the cafe with Collin and Chip. We were goofing around doing Morris Day impressions while taking orders from customers and I blurted out something so incomprehensible we couldn't stop laughing. And the voice stuck. And Johnnie Sojive was born. So many great ideas started in those two stores.

Random memories from Tampa and Farmington... Lunches at China Pan and J. Alexanders... 6 AM Snowball fights... Collin's California Turkey Wrap... Joe calling me "Jerkface" when he found out I was quitting... Andy Witts... Goldenboy... The look on Russ' face when I can back from Florida... I could go on and on and on...

I remember the first time I went into one. It was the store I worked at in Farmington CT, Store 55. I think it was the first on in Connecticut too. A Barnes and Noble opened up in 1993 and my mom and I would go there from time to time. She was a huge reader and really got me into books. We thought it was odd Borders would open across the street. The weekend they opened in 1994 my mom wanted to go. So I went with her. I wasn't planning on buying anything. Just to check it out. I left with a Kermit the Frog doll. Ha ha ha... I still have it.
And my mom bought me something too, when I wasn't looking. It was a book also by Kermit the Frog, called "One Frog Can Make a Difference: Kermit's Guide to Life in the '90's". I loved the book, still do. I still have it. It's long out of print, sadly. But it's a great memory of time spent with my mom. It was a place to hang for me, before I worked there, and after. A place to meet up with friends before a night out, or a concert, or a place to meet for a coffee and catch up. It was a place to feed the soul.
Borders was good for that. It made some great memories. I could go on and on and on forever here on this blog going over memories. But I won't bore you any further.

I'll end it here, with a quote from the book my mom bought me that first time I went to a Borders... And I dedicate it to all of you who were there with me, and those who stuck it out till the end, and to my friend Lisa, who started there right after I did, and will be there till the bitter end...
"Look before you leap" - KtF

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