The NorthShire Bookstore is located in the center of Manchester, Vermont. Even in early 2000’s, before they expanded to add the cafe, this was truly the heart and soul of Manchester. With the most impressive selection of books, movies, music and magazines, in the Bennington County area, it’s easy to see how this privately owned bookstore has lasted so long in a market with such notoriously low profit margins. Many well known authors have had book signings here, including Stephen King and Sue Grafton. And I wanted to work there.
In early 2003, I was still working at the Price Chopper in Bennington, where I held the position of, you guessed it, cart jockey. In spite of my repeated requests to be trained as a cashier, the management of Price Chopper did not see me as being capable of anything other than pushing a broom or changing the bags in the bottle machines.
Back then, the world hadn’t yet gotten around to beating the hope out of me, so when I saw the ad in the Banner looking for full and part time book sellers, I couldn’t get to the library fast enough. Once there, I went to the website and filled out the online application. It must have been impressive, because it wasn’t more than a week before I was called by the manager to schedule an interview.
The night before my interview, I was finishing a shift at The Chopper and had cut myself while changing one of the bottle machines. And for the rest of that evening, I begged the Fates not to make me sick, or to at least wait until after the interview. They must have taken pity on me, because I did not get sick and the cut did not become infected. But if you know how superstitious I am, you know that I considered this to be an omen, but not so much that I didn’t go to Manchester the very next day with hope and enthusiasm in my heart.
Bennington is not a major city like Burlington. It’s not a suburb like Salem is to Boston. In fact, it’s not inaccurate to refer to Bennington as I always have in polite company: A hub. It’s a place on the way to somewhere else. The majority of the economy passes through Main Street on someone’s way to North Adams, Hoosic Falls, or Rutland. The Green Mountain Trail bus is the only form of public transportation and it’s not as reliable as the CCTA in Northern Vermont, but it’s only slightly more frustrating than the T on a good day. The saving grace of the Green Mountain Bus is that at one point it was free and now it’s only 50 cents to ride, so the best you can hope for is a really mouthy driver and the worst you can hope for is a driver that wouldn’t spit on you if you were on fire.
I took the Green Mountain Trail bus to Manchester, arriving several hours before my interview. Taking the later bus to Manchester would have guaranteed my arrival long after the interview, so you can see the logic in the decision. Manchester is not the most stimulating town to wander around in and this was in the days before cheap Internet devices and public WiFi. But I made to the interview before the boredom claimed me.
The interview could not have gone better if the manager took me out to lunch afterwards. I had all the enthusiasm and I answered the questions expertly, impressing him with my bookish nature and I really felt like he wanted to give me this chance. But I couldn’t drive. And he knew about the unreliability of the Green Mountain Bus and he decided to go in the direction of someone who was not vehicularly challenged.
Whether or not I should have obtained, or still now should obtain, my driver’s license is irrelevant. Having one does not entitle me to a car. A shiny new car is not waiting at the DMV for recipients of their first driver’s license. And I sure as hell could not have afforded a car with the six dollars and thirty cents per hour that I was making at Price Chopper, even if I had followed the advice of Billy Joe Royal and saved every dime.
This post is perfect for today, the anniversary of my blog. You may think that all I do is complain and complain and expect the world to hand me a living on a silver platter. But the fact is that my entire life has been a study in trial and error. Trying for jobs I would love on my days off from the jobs that I hated. Taking classes to try and improve my skills and pool of knowledge. Even going so far as to move to a town where I didn’t know anyone, just for a fresh start.
I have always worked within my capabilities, stretching myself to the limit, trying for things that others would have dismissed as being out of their reach or not good enough. The only difference between Nathanielle now and Nathanielle then, is that reality has piled on and done it’s level best to crush the life out of me, so that know I consider it an achievement to be able to stick my head out of the shell.
I only wish people would take into account the thirty plus years of existence that I have experienced in this world, before they assume that all I needed all along was their condescending pat on the head to get me going.
Sometimes the gamble falls short and sometimes the gamble leaves me bankrupt financially and emotionally. Other times, as is the case with the Northshire Bookstore, I take the opportunity, but clearly there is always someone else who makes the final decision and I can’t convince someone that the sky is blue when they are so sure that it’s purple.