Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When Harry Potter 7 was released

Great employer

It occurred to me that I've never shared the story of my night working the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release party at Barnes & Noble on July 20th, 2007. I'll tell it now.

I was hired to work at Barnes & Noble about a month before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out. It was, understandably, a big night. Every employee was scheduled to work, management encouraged costumes, and events were planned for the whole night.

My schedule has me working at 7 PM to 1:30 AM. I'm only trained as a cashier so that's what I'm doing. Being festive, I decide to dress up as Voldemort.

At work things are going smoothly. I'm new so most employees don't know me that well. I introduce myself to a few coworkers who are somewhat taken back by this guy who's whole head is white and standing next to them. This is a busy night and customers are downright weird; walking around the counter and trying to nab a book pre-sale would not be unheard of.

After introducing myself and saying hello to my coworkers, ensuring each of them that, yes, I do work here, I start cashiering. The night is continuing normally. I use normal loosely considering the several hundred people gathering in front of the checkout lines with faces painted, each glaring at me as I leisurely sit on the boxes of Harry Potter that they covet so passionately I'm tempted to remind them of the 10th Commandment.

Guess what he reads?

As time passes a few brave souls slowly sneak past the hordes to purchase a few, non-Harry Potter related books. Every few minutes another person comes up: a romance novel for the middle-aged housewife; a cardboard book for the toddler and his father; a manga book for the 15-year-old, white kid in a black leather trench coat who's mother is waiting outside in the Escalade. Nothing atypical from the few weeks I've worked here.

At 11:33 the casual customer has gone completely and only the wizard-garbed fanatics remained. Well, them and a whole lot of casually dressed people who have too much pride and/or shame to dress up as wizards. As people start getting anticipatory, the lines begin forming more solidly and the sound levels go down as people begin talking to the person next to them instead of across the room. Then I hear a giggling sound. It's close; definitely not from the mob nor from the nearest coworker, who is two registers over. Looking around I peek over the edge of my register counter and see two teenage girls who have taken up residency there, determined to be first in line. I look around, perplexed, partially at whether or not anyone will have issues with this but mostly because I have no idea when or how they got there without my noticing. No one seems to care and customers are still able to move around easily enough, so I shrug and let it go.

All of it.

At 11:54, minutes before we can begin selling the books I've been resting my butt on for the last 3 hours, a man comes to the front of the lines and plops down a foot-high stack of magazines, all of which are gay porn. Here I am, in front of no less than 200 people, most of whom are teenagers or parents of teenagers, and I've just been given a stack of 19 gay porn magazines to ring up. I didn't even know Barnes & Noble carried that many. I knew there was a section but I didn't know there was such a variety. $108.32 later, he walked out with two bags worth of magazines.

Looking at my coworkers they're all stifling laughter. No one really expected that. I peer over the counter and indeed the two girls are still sitting there. I wonder if they noticed what just pass over their heads. Probably not; they seemed rather entertained by each other.

For the horde!

At Midnight we opened the boxes and began selling things. A group of high school kids tried to be funny and ask for a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince instead of Deathly Hallows; I told him if he wasn't going to buy one he should get out of the line so that others can get theirs. He apologized and promptly bought a copy of Deathly Hallows.

All the customers were gone by 12:45 AM and I was able to be home around 1. I read most of Deathly Hallows that night but had to be at work at 3 PM the next day, so I went to sleep around 7 AM. I finished it the next night.

1 comment:

Alisha said...

you didn't read it in one night!!!!???? *gasp*