Thursday, January 05, 2012

Employment Doldrums

DC is cold, and dark, and not too many people are shopping or moving, which means that the consignment shop has to furlough staff (none of us are fired, we’re just on unpaid holiday until business picks back up) and our next estate sale setup doesn’t begin until February 1, because the owner hasn’t gone through her stuff yet (hasn’t determined what of the vast quantities of paraphernalia abounding throughout her house she’ll want to move across country).  My boss said she’s going to be careful not to use the word “hoarder” in conversation with my colleagues, but there’s a great deal of stuff in the place.  Literally thousands upon thousands of books. 
I am delighted to know there are other readers out there (and cheered by the prospect that even were we to sell half the volumes, many more may be left over), though I admit it’s going to be a chore making sense of it all in the near term.  Post-sale, I have a standing offer to homeowners:  I will clean out all leftover books for free, donating all the ones I can’t sell to a local library (they’ll get the donation receipt for tax purposes)—effectively, they are paying me in paperbacks to clean out that part of their houses; it benefits me (I think I usually average between $12 and $15 per hour in revenue from this practice), it recycles the books (they are either sold to university bookstores for class texts or given to the library to raise funds for local literacy; incidentally, many charitable organizations either won’t accept books at all, or accept only a few, and trash the rest—I know, I’ve talked to the Goodwill employees) and it empties the house of print material (even the most congenial of movers resents having to pack books and when they’re charging the homeowner upwards of $150 an hour for moving, wouldn’t the owner in question rather “pay” me in literature?).  So, when I lug all those hundreds of pounds of bound material to my ever-accommodating Accord, everybody wins.  I can turn over twelve copy-paper boxfuls of books in two days—I don’t have room to store them in my house, and I hate tripping over boxes in my living room, and so I have become pretty efficient in churning through hundreds of ISBN numbers.  It helps that I now have internet access a home.  When I had to sit in the dark in the Arlington Courthouse parking lot, balancing my laptop on my steering wheel and painfully punching in codes with my arm crooked sideways, it was a pain in the pit.

We set off the alarm at the house when we went over to get the lay of the land this afternoon—the realtor had given us the key (the homeowner is in California until the middle of the month), but hadn’t mentioned anything so obvious as a security system.  It was very loud, and my boss had the dickens of a time getting in touch with the powers that be to get the code.  And of course one of those men of the type I most despise came over on an ATV to see who we were and if we’d managed to turn off the system.  I hate men who ask dumb questions, then don’t listen to the answers, who condescend to women, and who act like the person they are talking to is somehow at fault for something, no matter the clarity of his or her innocence.  These guys tend to be big and beefy, walk with a swagger, and probably were the sorts who were bullies in childhood.  As adults, they are unfortunately frequently attracted to careers in law enforcement.  That’s why I have always been so grateful when I’ve interacted with a reasonable, competent, and courteous policeperson.  And why I do not buy cars from dealerships who employ these types—one reason I ended up with an Accord and not a Ford.  The guy in the customer area had been a policeman (!) and had once given my mother a ticket for running a stopsign she didn’t run.  He didn’t recognize her, but he treated us like dirt, and we took our business elsewhere.  This fellow this afternoon was of the same scumwad ilk, although the owner had already spoken to us by that time and given us the code to deactivate the alarm, and we were able to address him by name.  Sometimes I wish there were a zombie virus (a la Shawn of the Dead) and such people (clearly prone to such an infection by nature) could be put to mindless, useful work digging ditches, fed on the occasional raw chicken and housed in garden sheds.

I made a lot of pearl jewelry last night while listening to Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero, from his new series combining the Greek and Roman pantheons and an entertaining assortment of modern-day demigods.  After I attend an Anonymous Four concert at the National Cathedral tomorrow night and host what may be an engagement party (ask her, already!) for a Philosophical Friend this Saturday, it appears I will have time to sew.  Or I may go visit my niece in Rhode Island, since she’s just been diagnosed with pneumonia and might need minding while my sister tests for her nursing license—of course, since my sister doesn’t test for another ten days, I hope Rita’s well out of the woods by then, and that her little brother hasn’t decided to appropriate her germs, like Mums did mine.

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