The Pondering Grapefruit
a blog of moments
So, I have a job, and my jobs deals with books. I work in the Shelf Preparations Department for Harvard College Libraries. For seven (it used to be ten, but you know... life) hours a week, I scan hundreds of books and then pack them to be shipped to the Harvard Depository, where they may never be seen again. It's extremely repetitive, but that's the reason I like it. Everything else about my life is not very repetitive, and it's nice to have a routine that repeats every week, like an anchor in my experience of time.
Here is the order in which you prepare a book: Grab the book off the shelf, put it on your cart with the spines facing out, stamp the side of the book, discharge it on the computer, and put it back on your cart with the spines on the bottom to prepare for packing. To pack, you must place the books spine down and fill the entire length of the bin, cover them with a rain catcher to prevent water damage during transportation, close the lid with a zip tie on one end, insert a slip on the side, and then place the bin on the carts, three to a row, three bins high.
To make work more interesting, I am trying to perfect that sequence of actions. It is deceptively hard. Working with books is extremely physical, and I am surprised at how cumbersome I can be, dropping books left and right, bumping my cart into things. I am trying to develop the perfect ratio of books to hold in my hand when transferring them to my cart. Perhaps my biggest sense of pride comes from being able to stamp books well.
In order to make a perfect stamp, you must first position the book properly: spine down, with the front cover facing away from you. The ink pad must be well inked, and the stamp in good condition. When inking the stamp, make sure to put even pressure along all parts. Position the stamp at the center of the side, and stamp in one smooth motion. A good stamp will be dark, centered, and evenly legible. The stamp process can get tricky when handling an extremely large book, a flimsy paperback, or a book with ridged pages.
This must seem so stupid and trivial to a lot of people, but I think it is good to find pleasure in your work, and to take pride in your work, even if it is the most banal of things. Work then becomes much more tolerable, and you also develop integrity with every well-stamped book.
About this Blog
I have no idea how to describe what my writing is about. I just write. I post when I can, which can be weekly or monthly depending on where the universe is taking me. As for the Grapefruit, my Vietnamese nickname, Buoi, means grapefruit.