Today has not been the most wonderful of days. I came to work three hours early to cover for two librarians who are at TLA. And if I had spent the morning helping students, that would not have been a problem. Instead, I was placed in the middle of a conflict (not of my own making) that left me with a bruising headache and what feels like a quickly growing ulcer in my stomach.
It is also this week that we make the official turn into one of the most stressful times of the semester. There are staff evaluations to be completed, this year’s budget to finish up, next year’s budget to plan, institutional effectiveness goals to either report on or develop, summer staffing schedule to have in place before the budget cut-off, input for accreditation teams who are coming on campus, and the little matter of hundreds of students who need research help as projects become due.
And this is true of every community college library across the country at the moment, so I’m not asking for sympathy. And I’m sure whoever is reading this had his/her own list of stressful things going on as well.
So at lunch, I decided two things: One, I would take my lunch hour (which I don’t always do). Two, I would find a place to hide.
Now Thoreau might have gone to the woods. My more cultured friends might have gone to an art gallery. I went to Costco.
I sat by myself eating a slice of pizza and reading a book on my iPad. Then having finished, I walked up and down the aisles and gazed upon cookware, socks, ten-pound bags of potato chips, cameras, computers, and azaleas. Most of the other customers were retired couples and moms with small children. I walked among them with no buggy and no purpose, just walked until my inner clock said a hour had passed and my inner calm let me know I could return to my office.
Why Costco? Who knows? Perhaps it’s the combination of both hustle and isolation. Perhaps it’s simply big enough to let me walk around for a hour without raising suspicion. And who cares why if it works. And it does work.
All folks should have a hiding place, a place where they can decompress until they feel they can safely return to the struggle that is simply a fact of life on some work days.
And yes, I did buy a book there.