“Um,” the woman said. “You know what? I’ll wrap it myself.”
She’d just dropped $5 in the donation can. And I was mangling the hell out of the wrapping paper. Honestly, I don’t think I was doing that poorly wrapping the book. She clearly thought different, but agreed that I could at least hand her pieces of scotch tape.
“Don’t worry about it,” my wrapping partner said. “She’s got OCD.”
I think she was just telling me that to soothe my bruised ego.
Honestly, I don’t know why I’d volunteered to wrap. Actually, that’s a lie: I was doing it for a charity. I was doing it to help out a friend, who already gives too much of herself for an assortment of good, decent causes. I was doing it to feel like I’d participated in something good. I was doing it because for a few hours at least I would feel like I worked in a bookstore again. Yeah, sometimes I really miss Borders.
The charity I was wrapping for was the DC Books to Prison Project, which provides books to prisoners around the country, and develops and supports local prison libraries. When I first moved to DC, my friend had told me about her work here, and I was intrigued. It’s the Bookseller in me, I guess, whether it’s helping someone standing at an information desk, or someone writing a letter asking for a selection from a particular genre, it’s got the same appeal.
I was surprised by how slow the night was. At first it was just the two of us, but two other women arrived shortly after we’d started, and so what had been an under-staffed night (which is why I’d been inspired to volunteer in the first place) because a way crowded, and way slow, evening. There weren’t many people wanting to get their gifts wrapped, and the store itself seemed pretty slow for a “less than two weeks until Christmas” shopping season.
But I had a pretty good night. For one thing, I learned some tricks to wrapping I’d never before known. And for another thing, I met a few new friends. And for another thing I got to work in a bookstore again.