A while back, I was asked to contribute to an essay collection with a wonderful concept: Authors writing about their experiences working in retail.
The book, entitled The Customer Is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles, will publish October 1 from Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, a smaller, independent press. I contributed to the book not only because it featured a wonderful concept and great group of contributing writers (T Cooper, Colson Whitehead, Po Bronson), but it was also my understanding that a portion of the proceeds would go toward helping independent bookstores, an incredible cause, to say the least (contributors, btw, received no advance and will receive no royalties).
I was asked to contribute by editor Jeff Martin, who is (steady yourself here for the biggest irony of all), a bookstore clerk in Oklahoma. Jeff contacted me because he had read my first memoir, AMERICA’S BOY, and was taken with my experience working in retail at Sears. As a child, I was a Winnie-the-Pooh clothing model, before ballooning into a Husky’s kid and college student, whose first real job came, more irony here, working at Sears. In AMERICA’S BOY, I wrote about how I told my supervisor at Sears — after witnessing an endless army of effeminate chubby boys march through the Husky’s corridor crying — that I truly felt a therapist should be stationed in the section along with a clerk. My suggestion was not heeded.