All right, my doves, it’s time. It’s time for me to explain why I consider myself a pirate, as I said may or may not happen.
There are several reasons. One is the romance behind the swashbucklers—I love the old Errol Flynn movies like “Captain Blood” and the rogue-with-a-heart-of-gold characterizations. I grew up watching the fantasy cartoon “Pirates of Dark Water,” which has emblazoned itself upon my memory even though it’s probably one of the more obscure cartoons from my generation.
Then, of course, I fell in love with Captain Jack Sparrow and dear William Turner. Don’t judge.
But the main reason I am a pirate is because I worked with a bunch of buccaneers at a bookstore. Uh-buh? Pirate bookstore?
I used to work at Borders Books, the now defunct mega bookstore chain.
Yup. I was bookseller at the store in my little town, seasonally during college and for about eight months after I graduated. I don’t know why, but I had wanted to work there since high school—I was (still am) a voracious reader, and I thought that maybe, while I worked there, MAYBE I’d see one of the books I wrote appear on the shelves.
As we all know, I wasn’t quite that lucky, but despite some of the messy (chicken bones littering the fantasy shelves) and spiteful (people would yell at you because the store had sold out of a book and were too lazy to go to another store) customers, I had a great time there.
I had dozens of coworkers during my tenure but there was a core group that stayed as long, if not longer, than I did. I came to know them quite well.
We weathered Harry Potter midnight releases together and in the wee hours of the morning, as in 2 a.m., and had a slow-motion lightsaber fight in wizard costumes. I may have also accidentally shattered the eardrum of my supervisor while yelling for cash only customers at the register.
We used to race to close the book and music side of the store before the baristas could close the café, which was more difficult than you might think. And if the café wasn’t shut down before the bookstore, the booksellers would go to help. It was on one such night I was heaved into an empty-ish, rolling trashcan as a joke and immediately tumbled out on to the tile.
I have other silly stories that I could bore you with, but they are more inside jokes than anything else (A-Team? Batman?), so I won’t do that.
The group I worked with, headed up by the most fabulous manager you could imagine, became very tight-knit. We referred to ourselves as a pirate crew due to our manager’s love of all things piratical and her self-designated captaincy.
It is people like this—the ones that let you be totally yourself, right down to the inner-nerd core—that facilitate creativity. I didn’t know it then, but I do now. Working at that bookstore with my Crewmates was basically like finding the mother ship. Everyone was just as weird as I was, just as strangely creative, just as slightly off-center.
It was the golden age of pirates.