One of my ‘good-job’ barometers is that I should feel at least a slight rush of excitement upon arriving to work.
In the late 1980s I was a Public Information Assistant at the United Nations in New York. A classy job title: I gave tours in English and pretty atrocious Japanese. The UN felt like
the center of the world. Rounding the corner from 42nd street onto First Avenue I saw and – on a windy day heard – 180+ flags of the world flapping wildly. My heart always skipped a beat. I loved greeting the security guards with a wave of my badge as I entered the employee-only gate behind suited diplomats, loved eating lunch in the cafeteria overlooking the East river (and the food was good too). Opening days of the General Assembly were particularly exciting; I ran charming photographers around the building for photo-ops with heads-of-state and once shook hands with Vaclav Havel. When Nelson Mandela was freed, I stood with my colleagues applauding madly for at least 5-minutes as he waited patiently at the podium to speak. The massive hall of the General Assembly shook with emotion and then, as we settled and he spoke, you could have heard a pin drop as tears streamed down our faces. Amazing times there. I didn’t want to live in NYC anymore though, so signed on to a UN peacekeeping mission and went to Europe. (Another story.)
For the past decade I happily walk into the bookstore 5 days a week. Less momentous than the world stage but still thrilling to me, seeing full shelves, spending my day with books and book-lovers. Much of my work happens in a messy little office in the back so these weeks during the holidays of being ‘out on the floor’ (by the end of my shift – I often feel like I could be knocked out on the floor) are a nice change. I enjoy random encounters with customers, sharing favorite titles with the youngest to oldest reader. We are connecting over books. Well, mostly. There are times these days, I also feel like an electronics salesperson. But still, we talk about reading — pretty good for the soul if you ask me.