Crushing the Possibility of Us Ever Becoming Best Friends
I do a lot of reading. When I wasn't working, I read an average of a book every day and a half. Now that I am working, I read through my lunch hour, and then before I go to sleep. And sometimes after work if I'm hyper and want to calm down.
In walking distance of my apartment is a little tiny library with funky hours. There's a bigger library a little ways away, but it costs $2 to get there. Often when I go to the little library it seems I've already read all their good books and there's nothing left. That's how I wind up doing dumb things like reading Danielle Steel or (dead) V.C. Andrews and getting angry at myself for thinking they might not suck (they do, every time).
On good days I show up at the library and go to the Reserve Shelf to yank the books off the shelf that they've set aside for me based on reserving them online (I fucking love living in the future sometimes). On good days I stumble across a new author who it turns out has written 24 books. That fills me with the same feeling as when I open the refrigerator and see I have one yogurt for each day of the week. On good days I walk down to the little library with a list of books I've compiled. Maybe I saw someone on the bus reading something that looked good. Maybe a magazine wrote a blurb about a new book. Maybe Wide Lawns has been reading.
I can't remember how I found out about the book Malled, by Caitlin Kelly, but the second time I stumbled across the title I was in a position to pop online and reserve it at the library. I was excited! She's writing about working at the mall. I worked in a mall! She's writing about working in a mall in New York. I worked in a mall in New York! I envisioned a lot of smiling and nodding as I read. Then the e-mail came from the library that the book was waiting for me. So I trotted on down to the library as fast as my little legs would take me and fetched my book about a woman working in a mall in New York.
Yeah um.... the book fucking sucked you guys. This woman tried to imply that she was now on the "other side of the cash wrap" but the truth is, she worked one day a fucking week for the most part. Her editor must have HATED her to allow Kelly to come across as such an elitist bitch. She writes multiple times about how highly educated she is, how she's fluent in foreign languages (as if her co-workers from Spanish Harlem aren't?), how she can relate to her customers because she's so well-traveled. I mean, it's a fucking miracle her ego could fit through the mall doors.
She doesn't just mention these things once, at the beginning of the book, to introduce herself to readers and explain her circumstances, but over and over again. Kelly also writes more than once about how even though part of her job is to clean the employee bathroom, she flat-out refuses to do that.
Kelly clearly lives in some other world, because she seems surprised that she only gets one break in eight hours of working, and that working in a clothing store is physical labor. I was almost surprised she didn't bitch about her hands getting filthy from touching dollar bills for an entire shift. That's what I remember most about being a cashier - how dirty my hands got from touching money. Probably why to this day I come home from work and immediately wash my hands.
It almost seemed like this was meant to be a similar book to Nicked and Dimed, but missed. Where Kelly wanted the reader to feel sympathy for her, I was only able to feel disgust. If you want me to feel sorry for you that you work ONE shift a week in a mall, then don't talk to me about buying a $200 shirt from Saks and going to Paris on vacation.
In one spot, Kelly seems confused as to why, when she tentatively reached out to her co-workers by inviting them to her house, they blew her off. It doesn't seem to occur to her that perhaps the fact that she thinks she's better than them seeps through in her interactions with them.
When I worked at the clothing store (men's clothing) in the mall, I was lucky enough to be able to wear sneakers. My jaw dropped at reading that Caitlin Kelly got to wear shoes that North Face gave her. For free. To keep. You know those are high quality shoes right there. Actually, they're way more expensive than I can afford. Kelly talked about her experience with the horror one would usually reserve when recounting their time in a sweatshop. My utter disgust for her as a person distracted me from the story multiple times.
I know that some of you actually buy books, whether from bookstores or on those Kindles and iPads or whatever you've got. If you're intrigued by the story enough to want to read Malled, please don't waste your money on it. I know some people have Germ Issues with library books, but I read them all the time and generally only get sick once a year. Just get it from the library. Then go to the mall and be nice to the people who work there. It's not their fault their stupid company forces them to welcome you to the store and then tell you exactly what the 400 signs say that are plastered all over the store.