February 16, 2011

Borders, As You've Likely Heard

The news has been circulating for some time now, thinly disguised as rumor, that Borders is filing for chapter eleven bankruptcy. I won't pretend to know what that means, exactly, on the large scale. I do know that, as a result, Borders is closing 200 stores, and that the Lawrence, KS, location is one of them. And I know that I'm quite unhappy about that.

Allow me a bit of nostalgia. I've been going to this particular Borders since I moved to the area in the about a decade ago. I've been shopping there for years, but I've been going to certain groceries for that long as well, without the slightest attachment being formed. So it's not so much about the duration over which the visits have taken place, as the frequency and quality of those visits.

I spent untold hours there, well before I was called it a job. I browsed the manga first, squatting as junior high kids do, waiting for the "buy 4, get the 5th free" sale, rejoicing when it arrived. But mostly, I didn't spend my money then, because I didn't have a lot of it.

When I did get money, I started to buy the manga I had browsed previously, and fantasy novels too. Borders provided my escape, along with Adult Swim, the fantastic worlds and events that young minds devour. And there was the Borders cafe, not yet Seattle's Best. I got the chai then, which I remember as being good, and I'm told it was.

Years passed, and my shopping continued -- though waxing and waning, depending on my moods. I fell out of love with reading briefly, then rekindled the romance several years ago. It's what I spend most of my free time doing now, that and writing.

Writing, of course, about coffee. That brings me to the present day, or rather, to late Spring. That was when I was informed that the Borders cafe -- which had converted to a Seattle's Best location several years prior -- was hiring, and that I might have a good shot of landing there, were I interested. I was. Coffee and books, my two loves, together, and with money. I couldn't pass that up.

And so I started that job, which I've had for about 8 months now. That is not a long time, I realize, and so it might seem a bit odd for me to lament. But that time, if rather brief, has been revelatory, in a way. It's calcified my love of coffee, and energized this blog. If I didn't work with coffee, I wouldn't be able to write about it. If there's anyone out there that considers it a good thing that I do, you have the SBC cafe in Borders to thank, in large part. There, I also met a group of coworkers, whom I might more accurately just call friends. I cannot say enough good about them, so I won't try. But I will miss those hours with them, when they do end.

Mine is not the saddest story, in relation to all of this. I am a part time barista, working while polishing off college. I would like to make a career of coffee; it is my ultimate goal, in fact. But right now, that SBC cafe in Borders isn't my career. But Borders is a career to a lot of people, a life for many years. I know several of them, have been a coworker for months, a customer for years. I valued them then, for the job they did, and much more now, for the people they are.

So what now? That's the question. Well, though the sentence is given, the doors won't shut for another month or two. That's now. And then? Coffee, wherever will have me.

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