I have been a fan of passiveaggressivenotes.com for some time now. It’s one of those sites that perfectly utilizes the Internet’s awesome power to collect silly things seen around the world. It almost always can make me laugh in that wonderfully sudden way that really dispels stress.
Last summer, I saw a note posted there (unfortunately, I can’t find it again now to link to it!) taped in the window of a Border’s bookstore that had closed. Like the rest of the chain, and many other bookstores in the past decade, it had languished because so many customers went into the store to browse and read but purchased nothing, preferring to do their book-buying online. The sign said something like this:
Try using the bathrooms
I thought it was clever and funny, but I also was zinged with guilt–just as I had been when reading about the demise of bookstores–for the times when I browsed without buying or used the restrooms or drinking fountain at the Barnes & Noble that used to be in my neighborhood. Now it’s gone, and that’s a little bit my fault. (I must note, though, that I didn’t buy books online that I could have bought in B&N. When I didn’t buy, it was because browsing had led me to the decision that I didn’t want the book enough to buy it or enough to pay full price now instead of waiting for it to come along used. On the rare occasions when I buy a new book online, it’s because local stores don’t stock it and can’t order it.)
About a month after I saw that note, we were on vacation in New York City and were getting thirsty after hours of walking in Manhattan. I spotted a Barnes & Noble and knew they would have a drinking fountain.
From the moment we entered the store, I was thinking bitterly, “Try getting a free cold drink at amazon.com!” I felt terrible, even as the abundant cold water perked me up.
I explained to the rest of the family and suggested that we at least browse the discount section before we continued on our walk. They agreed.
Within minutes, I found a large book on the history of cathedrals, abundantly illustrated with photos, for only $12.95. That’s a lot of money for a cold drink, but it’s a great price for a big glossy coffee-table book on a subject that really interests me. I bought it. Between doing the right thing and being rehydrated, I felt a lot better. I didn’t even mind carrying the book (which weighs at least 5 pounds) in my shoulder bag for the rest of the afternoon.
It turns out to be a great book! It is extremely comprehensive, showing cathedrals of all different styles and eras all over the world. Each one gets only half a page to two pages. The text is fairly interesting, but I enjoy it mainly as eye candy! In addition to spending many hours gazing at the details of the photos, I’ve been storing the book propped open on a stand in our bedroom for decoration.
I would never have found this wonderful book if I hadn’t listened to my tugging conscience and taken a moment to see what I could do about it. I won’t pretend that I single-handedly saved that bookstore from liquidation! In fact, I’m not sure it even made any profit from the book sold at that price. The point is, at least I bought something; at least I acknowledged that this was a for-profit business and not a public service or a place I can take for granted.
It worked for me! Visit Works-for-Me Wednesday to see what has worked for other people.