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sanebookseller in wetheinvincible

NYC: Alphabetizing at Epstein Books

How can you tell Keith's brother is in a bad mood? You just don't see him around. He hides in his office, does paperwork all day, leaving all the dirty work (dealing with customers) to Keith. And today it's literal dirty work: alphabetizing. Organization.

Kill him now.


The student. The enemy to organized bookshelves in bookstores everywhere, who pulls numbers of books out of the shelves and pores over them, only to leave them in a half semi-circle on the floor when they race off.

Except in Isabella's case. She's sprawled out on the floor, her legs stretching across the aisle as she writes about the women's suffrage movement in the US in a yellow legal pad. She has neatly stacked her books next to her. However, she's still standing between Keith and a neat bookstore. Wearing her Columbia sweatshirt, she scratches out more notes, not noticing the annoyed and grumpy bookstore owner moving back and forth over the aisles.

(OOC: Hope it's okay that Isabella talks to Keith as well. If it's not, I'll stop here. XD)
If it were Pete out here alphabetizing, he might be more forgiving of her due to the sweatshirt she's wearing. Keith, however, went to NYU. So he's not entirely sympathetic. He gives her books the Eye as he passes with a stack of books in his arms. Why, no, not a single one of Noam Chomsky's books belong in the cooking section.
She crosses her legs and labors over her work. As she notices the bookstore owner moving with larger and larger stacks of books in his arms, she looks at her own small piles and begins to feel guilty for pulling them out. Isabella gets up and starts reshelving her own books. She notices how similar he looks to Peter. Hmm.
That definitely catches Keith's attention. Speeding past with a stack of film books, he says, "You didn't have to do that."
She almost trips over her pink Converse sneakers as she follows Keith. She still has a few books about Marie Antoinette in her hands. That silly movie bringing in teenage girls who look at the books about her life, only to realize Marie's life wasn't as glamourous as the movie portrayed.

Isabella looks around at the almost endless aisles of books. "Seems like you're a little understaffed here. No one is helping you?" She deliberately asks this, knowing Peter is somewhere on the upper floor near periodicals.
Keith actually stops, giving this question serious thought. "You know...I never thought about hiring someone to do this. Usually Pete does the alphabetizing. It keeps him awake sometimes."

There's only slight remorse that he, as they say, threw Peter's business out there.
Isabella gingerly reaches over to help Keith out with the large stack of books. "I've been looking for a job. Columbia doesn't come cheap. My parents have been footing most of the bill, but I need spending money. And I'm sort of...drawn...to your store. I like it."

Which is true. Isabella can't explain it, but she's more relaxed in Epstein than most other places in the city.

"So what do you usually do?"
Keith laughs. "Trust me, I know Columbia's not cheap." Okay, Pete knows, but that's besides the point. "But, yeah, you know we could use some more hands around here. My brother and I are supposed to be doing administrative duties, but we almost always wind up doing some form of organization. And I almost always wind up doing register if nobody shows up because Pete...well."
"What? Because Pete...does what?" She wonders.

Isabella scuffs her foot on the ground and shifts the stack of books in her petite arms. "So you'd be willing to hire me?" She hopes. "I like books a lot, and I'm very neat and organized."

Secretly, she wonders if it would be cheating if her duplicates helped her shelve books. Hm. She looks around. Are there security cameras in Epstein? She searches for them discreetly.
There is a security camera and its name is Peter Epstein.

"Peter has narcolepsy. Which you don't see a lot because he takes his naps in the office, but--that's probably too much information. But, look, I'd be willing to hire you on the spot, but there's a protocol for this kind of thing so why don't you wait and I'll get an application for you to fill out?"
She shifts the stack of books in her hand.

"Okay. I'll be in..." She squints at the titles. "the Cinema section."

As Isabella walks away, she swings back to the US History section to pick up her backpack, which is miraculously still there. She reshelves the books and settles into a chair nearby.
Keath, meanwhile, walks upstairs to the back offices, where he finds a familiar figure curled up on the office futon and thankfully not on the desk. That makes application grabbing more conveinent, although it strikes Keith to put a stack of them by the register. He takes a few copies, heads back downstairs to Isabella and hands her one copy.
She smiles as she takes it. She dips into her backpack and gets her legal pad to lean on as she fills it out.

Name, address, contact information, easy questions. She blushes as she puts her education information, knowing it must sound really pretenscious to go from one overachieving school to another. She feels really self-conscious.

As for previous work, she puts down with a sigh, "waitress". For two agonizing summers, the summer between junior and senior year and the summer between Stuyvasant and Columbia, she waitressed at her father's sushi restaurant. She dealt with swarmy businessmen and demanding customers for tips. At least her japanese got a workout. They tipped well enough, too.

Filling in the rest of the application, she hands it back to Keith, bracing herself for the questions that inevitably come up.
Now that the player's turned her all caps off...

Keith looks over the application, nodding. The only question he has to ask is: "When are you available for an interview?"
"I could do it right now, if you'd like. I've finished my classes for the day." She smiles, but begins to feel nervous. She's always nervous during interviews, but who isn't?
He nods. A serious consideration to inform his possibly still napping brother flies across Keith's mind and is gone. Wouldn't it be a nice thing to tell Pete upon waking up that they have one more employee?

"All right. Ah--just let me find a pen and a piece of paper..."
As Keith disappears to search for the elusive pen and clipboard, Isabella primps. She fixes her hair, takes off her reading glasses and glimpses at her compact.

When she gains her composure, she feels silly about using the last few seconds she has alone to primp, instead of coming up with witty lines to use during the interview.

Way to go, Bella. She tells herself. I hope Keith didn't see any of that. She blushes.
A few moments later Keith does return with a pen and a clipboard.

And a Pete.

"I hope you don't mind," says Keith. "He just wanted to observe the interview. I don't think he'll say anything, will you Pete?"
True to his word, Pete says nothing, but shakes his head, waves at Isabella, and pulls up a seat at a far enough distance so as not to be obtrusive.

Cognitive background checks FTW!
Keith watches as Pete pulls up a seat, then directs his attention to Isabella. "All right, so, I think we can begin. I have a feeling this won't be a very long interview." He grins.

"Bookselling is kind of a common sense job, but working here does require you to know a lot about books. Before we hire someone we always want to check to see if they know...enough about books and what their area of expertise is. So what kind of books are you in to? How often do you read?"
"I try to read as often as I can. I used to love reading fantasy books when I was younger. During high school, a lot of it was reading for school. You know, your classics, Dickens, Hemingway and things like that. I was really...busy. Especially senior year." Isabella says, fighting the urge to stick her nails in her mouth. How unsanitary that would look.

I didn't even have time to breathe, from the middle of junior year to the beginning of senior. Let alone read. The only time I had to read on my own was when I was on Invincible.

"Nowadays, I try to read as often as I can. Right now, I mostly read fiction. I also love reading poetry, both performance and more traditional poetry. I read a lot of magazines, New Yorker and New York Magazine. I also try to read the Times as often as I can. My reading tastes fluctuate a lot. But I'm a quick learner. I'm open to anything."
"So if I asked you to reccomend a book to me, could you do it? How could you sell it to me?"
Isabella shifts forward in her seat. Good posture. Open stance, don't seem closed off. Breathe. "First, I'd ask you what kind of book you were looking for, and who the book is intended for. If you didn't know, I'd ask a few questions; fiction or non-fiction? What genre within those two large categories? After that, I'd try and steer you towards a book that you'd like. However, if it's something that I'm not that good in, I'd refer the person to someone else. I'd rather have to consult someone else rather than that person leave without having what they want."

"It's kind of like having to recommend sushi to people who've never had sushi, but know they want some. You have to know what they're like before you can start recommending things. There's a lot of different kinds, and the wrong kind can turn a person off completely." Isabella blushes.

Shit, I just keep rambling. She looks over at Pete looking at her. I probably sound silly.
Pete's facial expression remains thoughtful, engaged. Human nature is funny, how it convinces the talented that they're hacks and the hacks that they're talented. Is that not the entire premise of American Idol's season opening?
Keith nods. "But what if there's no one around who you would consider to be an expert on something?"
Isabella pauses for a moment. Shitshitshitshit. Um.

"Then I would take the person over to the section of the bookstore they're interested in and pick books off the shelf, and flip through them along with the customer. No one can know everything. I'm only human."

You mean, you're only a Convert. Stop that, self. I'm a human who happens to be a Convert.

"I'm willing to learn along with the customer. Maybe I could learn something along with them as well."
He nods.

"Now, what about irate customers? We do get them here, usually when Pete's not around, and I want to know how you would handle someone who's clearly upset?"
"I'd try to address their problem as best I can. If the item is damaged, I'd exchange it for a new one. If they can't find what the want, I'd try to help them figure something out. But...you can't please everyone. Some people will just be mad and irate, no matter what you do."

Isabella tugs on a small bit of her hair, then stops. She straightens up. I'm getting too relaxed here.
"When would you call a manager, though?"
"If a customer was really angry, making a scene or something. Or if I've pretty much exhausted anything I could think of to try and calm the customer down."

A.K.A. before I split into two of myself and beat the shit of out them, pretty much.
Peter coughs.

It could be a laugh.
Isabella slightly cocks her head at Peter. A small movement.

"Everything okay, Peter?"
He nods.

"Everything's fine," he responds, with an amused grin on his face. "Keith, are you going to keep questioning the girl or are you going to hire her?"
"No, Peter, I still have a few more questions I need to ask her."
Isabella chews on her lip thoughtfully. She pauses, looking between Keith and Pete. The fingers of her right hand have been swallowed by her blue Columbia sweatshirt.
Peter shakes his head and leans forward, eyes focused on his brother. “She’s answered all your questions competently and she doesn’t seem duplicitous to me. I think you should hire her. Miss—” he directs his attention to Isabella, “I’d hire you on the spot but I can’t override what Keith decides.

“But I do think that you’ve forgotten we’re not Barnes and Noble,” he continues. “We don’t need to do background checks on our employees; we just need to see if they’re good people, and smart, and she is. I think you should hire her.” Pete leans back in his chair, folds his arms, and looks at Keith, completely oblivious to the fact that his accent sounded a little less American during his monologue to Keith. That tends to happen when he’s around family, see.

Keith sighs. Loudly. And looks back at Isabella.

“So, can we talk about availability?”

Pete, in his chair, looks triumphant.
Isabella smiles shyly. "I'm available on the weekends, including Fridays. On Monday and Wednesday I'm available at night after 4:30, and Tuesday I can work afternoons. Thursday is a bad day, I have class all day. I dorm at Columbia, but I have a car. I could always take the subway here, I suppose."

She tries to place Pete's accent, but can't figure it out.

They seem to work well together. I can't even get along with my damn lab partner, and I only see him three hours a week. They're brothers, and they even work together. Amazing. I wonder how they do it.
Keith’s about to talk, but Peter interjects (now with 33% more American accent): “How soon would you be available for training?”

Asking questions quiets the temptation to answer all her questions through telepathy. He has to have some level of inscrutability, after all.
"This upcoming weekend. I can come in all three days, if you like. Hardcore training. I'll know this place like the palm of my hand."

Isabella yawns, but whispers "oops" and covers her mouth with her manicured hand.

God, I'm tired. I hope they don't have me come in for all three days. Why do I do that? Maybe two days I can come in. I need some time for myself on the weekend.

"What are your hours, usually?"
Ich, yawning. It’s contagious. And for Pete a sign of bad things to come. And apparently contagious over the internets, as the player just yawned. “We open at nine and close at nine,” he replies. “And you don’t have to come in all three days. In fact, I’d rather you come in when we’re slow, like on a Tuesday, so you can really get trained without any distractions. Does that sound okay?”
It's like he knew I didn't want to come in on the weekend. Hm. It's like he read my mind!

"Oh, that never occured to me. Tuesday sounds like a good day. Being trained is much easier without large numbers of customers about."

She hesitates before asking, not wanting to look stupid.

"...there isn't a uniform or anything, right? Right?"
He shakes his head. “Nope. Just show up the way you normally would.” Standing up, he extends a hand to Isabella. “So I’ll see you Tuesday afternoon.”

It only just dawned on him that he volunteered to train someone and that he’ll have to, you know, stay awake for that. If he can.

Ah, well.
Isabella stands up and shakes Pete and Keith's hand vigorously. "Thank you, so much. I really look forward to working here." She smiles and looks at her watch. "Oh, I need to leave now if I want to catch the subway back to campus. Thank you again."

She takes her pageboy hat out of her bag and slips it onto her head, and she tugs on her messenger bag. Flashing an eagar smile, her fingertips wiggle in a wave. She disappears into the stacks, and subconsciously tries to start memorizing the order of the stacks on her way out.
Los Angeles: The Beach

December 2006

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