The world continues to tilt underneath my feet. Someone else on the team here got an e-reader. Let’s not name names but it was Josh.
He’s been talking about reading in bed, and reading in the shower, and all this reading he’s going to be doing on it. Oh, look how much memory it has it can store a gajillion books. I told him this story of how, years ago, I went into a cafe and saw a couple sitting there at a table, drinking coffee, each reading their e-readers. It was wild, the image of it still seared into my brain. It was the Starbucks at Logan and Queen, by the old shop on Carlaw. He was unfazed. This pandemic has really changed all of us. None of us are going to be the same coming out of this. And some of us are going to have e-readers.*
I’m being dramatic. Actually last year I was contemplating getting one before traveling. The debate had been between getting an e-reader and bringing my laptop, or getting an iPad and using it both for work and to read books. The iPad won and is marvellous, and I use it for work everyday now, but it’s not great to read books on (or maybe I just haven’t tried hard enough) and I’ve always stuck with physical books. While abroad, Jon took this passive aggressive picture of me using the iPad to prop open a physical book while I was eating in a hotel room. He called it the $1200 page anchor.
In all seriousness, though, there are going to be changes in how we all do things, how often or how we go to libraries or shopping malls. How we travel, how we greet people, how close we get to people on the streetcar, how we pass a cup of coffee from one hand to another. How people are going to visit small, independent shops like ours. A lot of people say this is a good thing, we should’ve been washing our hands more often to begin with, we should’ve been sanitizing surfaces and bleaching things and keeping a good supply of toilet paper anyways (says every first generation Asian mother). But I’m not sure what this means for our shop, and if people will come back to us, and it’s heady when I think about it too much.
I often think about our shop and this phrase of the wheels coming off the wagon, the wagon being set barrelling downhill at full speed. Hold on tight everyone! Is the best we can manage. We’re just taping things up, pulling out a board here to nail it there, and ordering in new lines and new shipments. Every time discussions involve numbers above 10k, 20k, 40k, 100k, my eyes start to get glazed over and we just plug up another hole with packaging material. Bandaids everywhere, those waxy paper bits littering the ground behind us as though children have raided underneath the bathroom sink, which they have. When things slow down (will they?), the state of the wagon is going to be alarming. People are going to walk back into the shop treading lightly, for any number of reasons, children springing out from behind the counter. Social distancing! Is that jam on your hands!
Doug Ford has announced some staged re-opening plans, and we’re working on adjustments. Curbside pick up? Trying to be safe and wise and keep it up through the marathon. Does this herald the end? Is it one stage and then the next and then we’re ramping back up? Or is this just a strategy to help keep us through a stage that’s destined to last months more?
In any case, the kids have set up a shop in the case that we don’t make it. Selling used pencils and pencil crayons, toy dinosaurs, comic books. Prices vary. Can take your phone orders if you’re standing really close to them. Free local delivery if you’re within 50 metres and can offer cookies. Rainbow chips ahoy preferred, but will accept anything with chocolate.
*I’m just kidding about the e-readers. Almost everyone I know who has gotten an e-reader has really loved it, and said it was transformative to their reading life, pandemic or not. A few in particular have talked about the benefits of traveling or going to the cottage with it, but most have just found it to make it easier to read.