Although I’m no longer officially working, I don’t plan to be a stranger to Blue Willow. Yesterday my presence was requested at the weekly meeting so that the staff could give me a proper send off. It was all that. But first, a bit of history.
I’m not a fan of the telephone. I’m not sure when or why it started, certainly I was already showing signs of telephone avoidance (phonophobia?) in college. The only reasons that I can rationally come up with are 1) that I didn’t like the thought of disturbing people and forcing them to talk to me if they didn’t want to and 2) that there always seemed to be more to say or questions to ask after I hung up and it was too late, making the whole experience very unsatisfying. And then it all kind of gets in your head and you just get stubborn about it because you can. `
When I first started working at the bookstore, I was only working a few hours, one day a week. I told Girlboss that I really didn’t like talking on the phone and she said these fateful words, “Oh, you don’t have to.” I held her to that for 12 years. In the beginning, I was so adamant that someone called the bookstore one day and asked for me by name. The teenaged employee replied very politely, “Oh, she doesn’t talk on the phone.” To which the caller replied, “I’m her husband, I think she’ll talk to me.” They brought me the phone, but had to show me how to take it off hold. As time went on, I weakened my resolve… a little, but the first thing I made sure all new employees knew was that MY, and only my, employment contract specifically said ‘no phones.’
Can you guess the theme of my send-off? It started with a poem that Bibliopinions wrote in my honor, a take off on “Casey At The Bat” entitled “Nancy at the Blue Willow.” Bibliopinions is my younger twin partner-in-crime and her kind words touched my heart, but lines like “But never once did she ever think to lift the phone right off the hook” had us all laughing. There were eggs a la Cynthia and for a sweet morning treat, rice krispie treats (also of historical significance) decorated like telephones a la Martha.
Yup. Every single package contained a phone. All I can say is that Blue Willow staffers never throw anything away. The big, antique phone from Germany and the two tin cans with string deserve special mention, but they were all hysterical to open. Make sure you notice the duck decoy phone and the toy phone that plays “It’s a Small World” in the picture below.
To cap it off, Jennifer decreed that the tradition of “no phones” in the employee contract should be continued. She put a staffer’s name on pieces of paper and put them in a hat for me to draw one. When she said, “Oh, I hope it’s me!” as I pulled a name out of the hat, the jig was up. Her name was on every slip. I think she should get at least one day of no phones as her E for Effort prize.
And then it was time (for the rest of them) to get to work. What a fabulous group of people! I will truly miss working along side all of them 2-4 days a week. But like I said at the top, I don’t plan to be a stranger; and since I won’t call them, they’ll just have to get used to seeing me up there as a customer and friend.
P.S. When I tweeted “You have one little personality quirk and no one lets you forget it” one of my word-lier friends replied “Glad you said ‘quirk’ rather than ‘hang-up'” (groan).