So what’s it all about? The week has been spent putting a new store together. Step one is getting a load of crates of books (mostly sorted into sections) and wacking them in roughly the right place on the shelves following a big plan that someone has done. Step two is properly sorting each section: alphabetizing, putting in sub-sections, pulling out the wrong stuff etc. These two steps took about 3 or 4 days to complete. Step 3 is the normal faff of micro-management (walking around with a single book for about half an hour trying to decide whether it should be in cultural studies or current affairs), prettying up table displays, face outs, POS and a load of other jargon. Basically the stuff that everyone does normally within their job. The stupid part of this, of course, is that this is all on-going work that is never really “finished” (unlike the infrastructure stuff) so we could do it until the cows come home; additionally the sections will be handed over to a load of people with no experience, so all those hours will be for naught as they decide to do something differently or just miss-shelve stuff.
I did feel a little pressured on the first day as I didn’t really think this through, it seemed like a test with the head-office bods checking your displays etc like hawks. One guy I was working with was really worried about the whole training people aspect of the job, but as it turned out there wasn’t that much involved and most of the managing just consisted of explaining to people the next job that needed to be done. After all, it’s a bookshop not rocket science and most of the display stuff is obvious if you’ve been doing it for a while. So, while still hard work and fairly mundane it has definitely been more fun than the normal job, mainly because there have been no customers. Bliss.
Interestingly everyone else I’ve been working with is a grade 5 or a manager. They were all really surprised when I said I was only a grade 2… apparently you’re not even meant to order stuff until you’re grade 3, let alone manage and train people or be sent on new store jobs. Naturally we’ve all been doing the same managerial stuff as the new store support team, so I’m left completely miffed as to how Jim can allot me responsibility without reward. I don’t want to manage, but a fair wage would be nice. Me and Al have definitely been screwed, my next dilemma is whether to email Jim about this.
The other really odd aspect to this is the amount of money being spent on us. £25 per night for food and drink, all other meals and transport paid for, flights, a hotel at £80 per night. Clearly it would be better for the company just to pay everyone a little more and curb the jollies. Not that I’m complaining right now, but as a general philosophy it seems to make sense.
Anyway, enough business. It’s still boring despite being in Belfast! My lack of blogging has been due to my glut of evenings out. There’s been 4 or 5 of us staying in this hotel for most of the week, so every night we go to the hotel restaurant and try to eat a three course meal (I fully managed every course last night, I’m so proud and fat). This normally takes a good hour or two. Then, naturally, we retire to the bar for a nightcap which, again, often ends up taking a good hour or two and being more than one. Yes, everyone I meet who works for Waterstone’s loves to drink. I think it’s something to do with all those broken dreams. It helps that we’re not paying either. We ventured out to a pub last night and crawled back about 1am leaving the place in full swing. How beautiful to have a choice about what time to stay out till.
It has been really good fun, although very bad for my ideas about sitting in my room being creative. My most creative time was actually at the airport when I wrote about how uncreative airports are. I was wrong, hotel rooms are even worse. They’re just not worth sitting in most of the time and no matter how tired and how hermit-esq you are/wish to be the bar always seems like a better option. Lack of music has been a big problem, some of the CDs on rotation at the shop were killing me, at one point we had a medley of Kylie and Guns n Roses. OK for a song or two, but after that just ugh. And then you come back to a quiet hotel room and the voices in your head are singing “go disco!” and there’s nothing you can do to drown them out. Horrible. Truly horrible.