I Got Cat Class and I Got Cat Style.

I have a tirade to get into today, so I’ll start you off with some pictures of our boy, Taffy, to lure you into my latest harangue about what is wrong with the world these days.

I’ve seen Taffy and his frenemy, Bibs in a lot of situations, usually involving turf battles over dinner dishes or stalking one another in the neighbor’s back yard. But this is an entirely new circumstance.

 Oh, if only I were cat-sized and could tuck myself under a Taffy blanket.

Taffy and his art work. He can’t take ALL the credit for down-grading our former living room couches into the couches that are now hidden away from polite company in the den (for obvious reasons), but he DID do most of the re-purposing work you see here.

So, here’s my Rant du Jour:

It’s a rainy Friday afternoon, and I’m at the used book store that I co-manage for our local library here on the North shore of Long Island. Business is slow, so I have my feet propped up on the desk and I’m reading a book of Bloom County cartoons.

A woman steps into the store and announces, “I’m back!”

I say, “Oh, hi!” in a real friendly [un-Vivian] tone of voice, but in my head I’m thinking, Who the hell are you?!

If you have ever worked retail, you come across people like this all the time.  Customers who announce I’m back! are the customers who think that us salespeople have no life outside the store, that we do not exist in a any meaningful way in-between the times that we ring up their purchases, and that their visits at our place of employment are the most memorable moments of our lives. They also mistake professional curtesy for genuine amiability.

Michale Pollan, in his new book How To Change Your Mind, about how we can broaden our sense of day-to-day reality to embrace an easily-accessed sense of wonder (though LSD), wrote about the mind set of narrow-thinking people, such as customers who walk into a store and announce, “I’m back!”

On page 415, Pollan is discussing how we humans don’t spend much time honoring the intelligence of plants and animals (Trees have feelings! Birds make jokes!) and he writes:

To us, we are the world’s only conscious subjects, with the rest of creation made up of objects; to the more egotistical among us, even other people count as objects.

Yep. Objectified. That’s how I feel when a compete stranger announces to me, “I’m back!”; that I’m just an object, gathering dust in the void,  until I’m re-animated by the warm blaze of this person’s consciousness.

This lady, naturally, can’t stop talking about herself, so the more she yakked, the better I remembered that she had been in the store a while ago, and that she’s got a master’s degree in education. But jeeze, lady. I’ve been to New Orleans since the last time I saw you and I’ve had a lot better things to deposit in my memory banks than your story about your friend’s daughter who is learning American Sign Language.

(That’s another thing that customers do to salespeople. They tell us their life stories, as if we give a shit.)

As you can tell, while I generally enjoy co-managing the used book store, there are days when I am not in the mood.

Speaking of New Orleans, you might remember this photo for last week’s blog post about the trip that Top Cat and I took to New Orleans for French Quarter Fest:

Note the large sign on the left that says, ELIZA JANE.

That’s the sponsor of this zydeco band, which on this day was Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots.

The ELIZA JANE is the name of the hotel that Top Cat and I stay in when we go to New Orleans. It used to be called The Country Inn, but it had a major renovation last year and changed its name to The ELIZA JANE, which meant nothing to us until Saturday morning when we saw a blues singer named Gerald French do a song called Little Liza Jane.

Check In desk at the ELIZA JANE.

Little Liza Jane is a song dating back at least to the 1910s. It is one of the standards of the New Orleans brass band tradition and numerous scholars and musicologists have written about the song and the song is the subject of a forthcoming documentary film. (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

So now we all know.

Top Cat and I love the new ELIZA JANE, the hotel, which is now run by Hyatt, which is a big corporation so no wonder they got the name just a little bit wrong.

The interesting thing for us today, Dear Readers, about the ELIZA JANE, is that the new interior design uses a lot of books to create a groovy karma for the new space:

In all the public areas in this hotel (front desk, lobby, sitting rooms, hallways) books are featured in casual still-life arrangements that give off a lived-in, cultured, and homey vibe:

From a distance, the books look as if they’d been left there, casual-like, by a host who has momentarily left the room:

Close-up, the books reveal how carefully they have been chosen and arranged:

Ripping the covers off to show the naked spines … well, that’s something I would never-a-thunk.

While you look at these pix of the new ELIZA JANE and soak in all the bookish detail, I’ll tell you another story from The Used Book Store Files.

The Used Book Store Files  are like the X-Files, except that the creeps in The Used Book Store Files  are not supernatural; they are old ladies from Long Island.

Three weeks ago, my co-manager (we’ll call my co-manager Esmée) and I had a situation with the Wednesday volunteer at the used book store, so Esmée and I fired her. The situation was that for a very long time, Esmée and I had desperately wanted to get rid of the Wednesday volunteer.

The Wednesday volunteer is not very smart. She complains that we have too many yellow books.**

**The Wednesday volunteer doesn’t like to touch “old” books. They are “too yellow.” I have to remind her almost every month, when she complains about all our “yellow books”, that we run a used book store. And in my mind I tell her, Shit, lady — you’re about 100 years old yourself so have some professional curtesy.

The Wednesday volunteer also had an idea to start a literary magazine that she would edit and that the library could pay for, but she only got as far as writing a rambling, non-sensical, thousand-word mission statement. Please note that The New York Times has a mission statement, and it’s seven words long: All the news that’s fit to print.

Lastly, the Wednesday volunteer just makes our skin crawl. For the last month, the Wednesday volunteer has had a pink eye, so she only wears makeup on the good eye and combs her hair over the infected one. It is a sight to behold.

About three weeks ago our prayers were answered and we finally got a new volunteeer who could do Wednesdays, so Esmée and I told the old Wednesday volunteer that, going forward, her services would not be needed.

When she got the sack, old Wednesday volunteer did not take it well.

The old Wednesday volunteer sent an email to the president of the Friends and to the director of the library, demanding a meeting to discuss the situation. Allow me to quote the exact text, including the missing punctuation, the unusual spacing, and the weird capitalizations:

Going on record to let the Friends of the Bryant Library know that i have been forced out of my Volunteer position at the Book store by Vivian Swift.

My character and reputation has          been also tarnished by false           accusations and insulting comments in the past

I am requesting a meeting to discuss this unfortunate situation with the Friends, myself and Vivian as soon as possible.

This is the kind of book used for decorations at the ELIZA JANE.

I got old Wednesday Volunteer’s prose from an email sent to me by the president of the Friends,which included the entire text and an offer to help “resolve” this matter. I did not have any interest in “resolving” this matter, so instead I went to New Orleans for six days.

When I got back, I emailed the president of the Friends and the director of the library. In my email, I enumerated the reasons that Esmée and I wanted to fire old Wednesday volunteer, going back to March 2018 when she began to give us same-day notice that she would not be doing her Wednesday shift, and all subsequent dates when she did not show up (Esmée and I keep excellent records) and all the times that Esmée and I had to cover for her; and how so far in 2019 old Wednesday volunteer has not been available for half the Wednesdays on her schedule.

I wrote that Esmée and I need to have a dependable Wednesday volunteer, and we now have that dependable Wednesday volunteer, so, I wrote: “We know that we can count on your support and consider the matter resolved.”

The president of the Friends sent me her thanks, with her note: “Past practice has given bookstore managers the responsibility for staffing decisions. The information you provided is helpful.” And then she sent my entire email to the old Wednesday volunteer.

Why she did that, I don’t know. The president of the Friends could have simply told the old Wednesday volunteer that she supports Esmée and Vivian’s decision, and left it at that…but by forwarding my email to old Wednesday volunteer, detailing why she was unsuitable for the book store, the president of the Friends made things a lot worse.

Old Wednesday volunteer wrote to the president of the Friends:

After reading Vivian’s delusional         and insulting remarks, I am going on record to state that I have no intent to meet    .It is difficult to deal with fabrications.   I have documentation and records to support any of the false allegations made as to my           performance

She continues, in 1,896 words, to call me a liar and an incompetent manager who needs to take classes, and to list her community service awards while criticizing me for taking credit for the book store’s success when I should “leave the compliments to others     .”

Old Wednesday volunteer doesn’t mention Esmée, but Esmée advised me not to respond to old Wednesday volunteer so we have let her have the last word. . . until the next board meeting of The Friends.

That’s when I will report that the old Wednesday volunteer is still fired, and the new Wednesday volunteer set a record for her first day on the job when she made $101.50, for the Friends. I hope old Wednesday volunteer will be there, because I can’t wait for her to bring documentation and records to support any of the false allegations made as to [her]           performance

Bibs and Taffy resolve their situation.

Yes, for once, I am really looking forward to the next board meeting of the Friends of Bryant Library, on May 7.

As for current events in the larger, non-library world, oh lordy, do we have a situation. So Bob Mueller wrote a letter to the Attorney General disputing Barr’s synopsis of his 448-page report, in which he clearly and explicitly did not exonerate der Drumpf for obstruction of Justice, and in fact listed evidence so that der Drumpf can be charged after he leaves office. Yay!, but I am too exhausted by the never-ending shit show that is this presidency and I. Can’t. Take. It. Not this early in the day.

Well, maybe this early in the day. . .  but not without vodka.

Then again, maybe vodka with the morning news is the new normal in these times.

As one commentor on the New York Times article about the content of Meuller’s letter put it: Our suffering has no boundaries and yet it can still get worse. Vote them out in 2020.







(For more, go to Yellow Dog Granny.)

For the love of god, let’s all try to laugh a little, and stay sane, and let’s bank on the actuarial tables that say Father Time should solve our Trump problem by approx. October 2022:

And I would be remiss in not wishing Melanoma Trump, former soft-core porn model and mail-order bride, a Happy 49th Birthday (April 26). She is, as the Head Liar for Jesus and Evangelical Pastor Franklin Graham tweeted: “the classiest first lady our country has ever had.”




All photos from British GQ magazine, January 2000. For real.

Yeah. We live in strange, strange times.

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers.

Stay Classy.


11 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan

    Goodness gracious! Some things you just can’t unsee, Vivian! I am trying to focus on Taffy being an organic hot water bottle instead. One thing about volunteers it is a universal truth, my friend works for Lifeline and has had a similar experience.

  2. Your photos of the Lil Liza Jane Hotel are very amusing. (I have heard versions of the song but I can’t remember the tune, so now I have a really broken earworm. Thank you.) I wondered about those artistic book displays. Were the books glued together in place to preserve artistic intent? Sometimes in that type of book decor you can’t actually look into the books, which you might want to do if the designer selected something that was interesting as well as being the right size, shape, and color. Like not the color yellow as your tormentor mentioned.

    As always I enjoyed your observations of our broken society. Somehow you didn’t use the word _coup_ ! I guess that’s merciful of you.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  3. Casey

    Oh I loved this. You only tell us stories once a week but there’s a week’s worth of thoughts here.

    First, thank you, taffy, for being you. I’ve never worked retail but I worked in a restaurant during college and it’s just as bad. Most people are not funny but they think they are, so thanks to my waitress training I can fake laugh at any joke I’ve heard a thousand times.

    I am laughing at the office politics of a charity used book store. I want the full report from the board meeting next week. Oh, and that’s what the Republicans said about Anita Hill, too, that she was “delusional”. So you are in heroic company.

    Thank you for reminding us how classy the Trump family is. And really? Billy graham’s son said that Melania is the classiest first lady we’ve ever had? He must like it when the ladies show him their ta-tas.

    Ick. Now I need some vodka too. cheers!

  4. Sometimes I can’t get my brain around your world. It’s way more exciting than mine. NOLA last week — must go back to the post but dancing and zydeco is sorely needed in these troubled times! And all those books! So loving my dose of Taffy and Bibs, too — now that’s seriously cozy. If these arch enemies can get along, well, our political friends should see this. And don’t start me on that. I haven’t even finished my morning Tab yet.

    Hell hath no fury like a volunteer scorned. And you have one of the ten commandments of my long-ago supervisory training course — documentation, documentation, documentation! I’ll be thinking of you next Tuesday!

  5. Good luck with the volunteer “situation.” The first volunteer I worked with at our library book shop kept saying “liberry”, spent half her time reading on her iPad while steadfastly ignoring the customers, and the rest of the time obsessively straightening the shelves after the customers left because they had dared to touch the books. I was very happy when I got moved to a different day.

  6. Kirra

    Thanks for leading with the Taffy photos, sorry about your couch/sofa!

    I know the song ‘Little Liza Jane’ as I use it with my school choir, they love it. A very popular song to sing in choirs/schools in Australia.

    Your old Wednesday volunteer sounds the worst, but her emails were hilarious. I think some people in leadership positions are just slack, the president of the Friends should not have forwarded your email. Why are bad managers everywhere? Even when you’re not working but volunteering. Enjoy the next meeting!

    I do think Australian politics is bad, but US politics seems worse. Seriously not classy first lady, ugh……..

  7. Susan

    Looks like Bibs and Taffy have reached a truce. Peace on the home front! Managing people is always full of trials and tribulations. Old Wednesday volunteer sounds like a piece of work. Also, why in God’s name did the performance documentation you provided to upper management go to old Wednesday volunteer? This just worked to inflame the situation. The May 7 meeting might be a real fireworks situation. Old Wednesday volunteer could come in guns blazing. Do let us know what goes down.

  8. Patricia

    You certainly have an interesting life. Who knew used book store volunteers had so many challenges ? I only volunteer at the big sales where everyone works their tail feathers off. But your incompetent volunteer has many siblings all over the USA. And am pretty sure we’ve all met one or more of them…

  9. Good ranting! I like that you got it off your chest. Now good luck tonight at the meeting.
    Oh your kitties and their sleeping and scratching patterns!
    Hadn’t thought of that name for Melania, but I like it.

    • Vivian

      Thank you, Marilyn! It does help to vent in print, but I long to crush the spirit of all my foes in person, to watch the light fade from their eyes when I devastate the scaffolding of self-worth and fantasy that has propped up their measly personality all these years. Slash and burn. But maybe I’m just angry at Trump and taking it out on the relatively harmless idiots I cross paths with. I’ll think on this.

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