Sunday, February 22, 2009


For quite a few years now I have engaged, along with my wife, in a reading group. We meet in the local Barnes & Noble on the third Monday of every month to discuss a new book we have read. It has been an adventure. The reception of Barnes & Noble to us over that time has varied significantly. At first, they were all for it. The new store wanted to encourage readers to be there. They made space for us, accommodated us with comfortable seating and extra chairs, when needed. They posted our meeting time and the book we had selected for that particular month. Over time, as the store became more and more popular and underwent management changes, and, I suppose, due to the broader perspective of the chain's upper management, the accommodations lessened. "We have to make more space for merchandise." Now, quite often, we have to beg for any accommodation whatsoever. Fortunately, we are a small group and don't take up too much room. Furthermore, I am pretty certain we buy a lot of books there at the Barnes & Noble store.

The major host of the group, who was there before we joined, is leaving for a year. She is the individual that always has greased the skids between the group and the store. After her retirement from government, she worked at the Barnes & Noble for a while and helped get it going on such firm footing to begin with relative to customer service. Things seemed to go downhill after she left, from my perspective. I think there was a major shift in the thinking of management relative to customer service and sales.

Anyway, this friend is going on an LDS mission with her husband to Hawaii. Poor babies. They will help man an office for a mission there, doing office-like work. Both of them are retired. Their parents have passed on. Their children are independent. They have reached a situation where they can leave home and contribute their talents and time to do the work. We went to their farewell this morning and enjoyed their talks. Both of them were extremely well prepared as to the content and length of their presentations. I enjoyed being there and listening very much. Our friend told of her ancestors who also gave service in Hawaii relative to the church. For her, then, it was a continuation of such service, meant to honor and respect her heritage and the example set by her forbearers.

Mostly I like to be left alone. I'm a solitary individual. I don't know if I have always been so, but I think I have. I have felt that way as long as I can remember. It's not that I'm a hermit; I do enjoy other people's company and some social situations, but for the most part I have learned to be satisfied with my own space and company. And I am a family man, and to enjoy the company of my family, some more so than others. But sometimes I am perturbed by people's intrusions into my solitude. Nonetheless, going to discuss the book we have read for a particular month has always been a nice break from my solitude. I enjoy it and the company I find there.

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