The building in which I work was built in 2004. Actually, it was a gymnasium built during the New Deal and was remodeled into an academic building in 2004. Therefore, it has some old, and it has some new. It also has a room that has constantly evolved over time. As it happens, that room is directly across from my office door.
In the early days, it was a classroom. In fact, I taught in that room a couple of times. As a classroom, it was a disaster. There were no windows, and it was like going to school in a cave. I do not suffer from claustrophobia, but this room gave me the feeling I was trapped. I cannot imagine how trapped students felt when they had to sit there and learn how properly cite a source. It must have resembled something in the mind of Dante.
We stopped scheduling classes in the room, and someone must have noticed. It was not long before it became a storage room for the bookstore. A massive lock was placed on the door because, as all students know, books are worth their weight in gold. People came in and out with boxes of books, stacks of books and dollies of books. There were times when I could hear people working hard. The sounds of those books being moved around could not be mistaken.
However, there were also times when I could hear people watching television. When the classroom was abandoned, no one thought about taking out the television. We may have been the only campus in the country that had a television in the book storage room.
At some point, someone decided to change how our bookstore operates. Instead of selling books in the same place where we sell t-shirts, caps, hoodies, license plates and other things that have our school’s name and logo, we split that up. Now, we have a spirit shop for that stuff and a bookstore for books. Yep, the room across from my office door became the bookstore.
It is like working in the El Paso train station.
In the first weeks of each semester, people are lined up out the door to buy books. This means they are lined up outside my office door. Of course, bored people standing in a line are going to talk. This means they are talking outside my office door. When there is a long wait, the talking turns into complaining. This means they are complaining outside my office door.
However, that does not compare to when the bookstore is closed. Like all good stores, the hours of operation are posted, but that does not stop people from trying.
Do you realize how many people will stare at a locked door?
Do you realize how many people will pull on a locked door a couple of times just to make sure?
Do you realize how many people think the teacher in the office next to the bookstore is also the receptionist for the bookstore?
I cannot count the number of people who have pulled on the locked door and asked me if the bookstore is closed. Of course, some people ask me if it is open.
I have been thinking about this because the bookstore is now open for book returns. It is the end of the semester, and students want to get some of their money back. As a side note, I have never sold back a book. You never know when you might need it.
The end of the semester does not have the long lines. However, it has people pulling on a locked door and sighing with disgust because the bookstore may not be open at the exact time they decided to show up. What do they expect? Bookstore workers are like book storage room workers. They need time to shut the door and watch television, too.