Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hard Labor Book Clerk Style

I hate generalizing but I'll make an exception here: I'm the kind of guy who gets roped into the most long-winded, arduous, chimerical and physically exhausting projects. Emphasis on the last part I think.

It's similar to the tendency I have of usually moving into houses right when they're at their point of most dire fragility and the inhabitants are either selling off their housemate's appliances to buy crank or the landlords are renting out the garages to ex-con tweakers with prostitutes who double as house-calling therapists.

Or I start jobs that are really just guinea pig positions and my immediate superiors are vigilant to see if I, the affable, curly-haired dude with that winning urban beard, will split under the pressure of being experimented on so cruelly. Like the time I had to dismantle the $100,000.00 architecture model while also making time to affix stamps to two thousands postcards.

But the part where I excel is moving. I enjoy the act of eradicating one space and making another. At the same time, as everyone knows, moving sucks. But still I excel at it.
Especially when it comes to big moves. Big, exhausting, dusty, soul-cursing moves.

Usually it's just helping my friends move. One winter, in the Outer Sunset, I consented wilfully to an 8 hour stint as volunteer mover merely so I didn't have to think of love woes and loneliness. That's a story I would like to tell: the guy OR girl who agrees to physically demanding favors just so they don't have to think about things. Gradually, they realize that they are saying yes to more and more dangerous, demanding and ultimately fatal adventures.

That particular time in the Sunset we had to deal with hauling a mattress up 7 flights of stairs because it wouldn't fit in the tiny lift in their apartment building. Another time, from the same pressing need to be helpful but also to push my body, I helped my friend move, which mostly involved carrying his 8 or 9 keyboards up several flights of stairs in the Upper Haight.

Sometimes I've helped my friends move just because it was the right thing to do. Like three weeks ago, when we got locked into a storage unit with our friend who was 8 months pregnant because the night manager forgot to show up for work. Promptly at nine everything shut down. Elevators, doors, gates. Thankfully a cop responded to someone else's call and found us instead, but he had to spend an hour trying to find a phone number for someone to give him the access code just so we could exit the parking lot.

And none of which even comes close to the mishaps of my own moving adventures...another installment of which will be happening in a month's time.

Which is all a roundabout way of saying that I spent half this week assisting for many hours in the physical, bodily and tangible act of moving a bookstore. Never thought I'd do that before, but then again, I think just by being born I unconsciously signed up for many more, presently unknown but similarly chimerical undertakings.

From one smallish location that had been there twenty years to a spot, three blocks down that is twice as BIG and replete with garden, basement, back office and children's book room, the moving involved all manner of boxing books, loading them, unloading them, sorting them, uncobwebbing, unratdropping, sucking down dust, hammering, carrying, shoving, splintering, sweating, hungering, picking up and dropping, dropping and picking up, being sarcastic to onlookers and being generally ebullient about the dirty, communal act of creating a new space. The last thing to go, maybe, was an old paperback of Dante's Inferno that was utterly clotted with dust and nailed to the wall and had been behind a bookshelf for two decades.

The new Phoenix Books is scheduled to be open tomorrow, Friday, June 19th. Stop by and spread good cheer. Here's a couple photos from the original site and the new site. (First two are from old sight; following three are the good work we did at the new one.)

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