Borders is a fantasy land, a place where dreams meet. It combines, in my mind, two of my favourite things: art and capitalism.
I imagine tweedy-jacketed old men roaming the corridors and plucking leather-coated books from dusty shelves; small ancient ladies thumbing their way through encyclopaedias, peering at the spider-like print through bone-rimmed glasses. And in some far corner, a forty-volume Slovakian translation of Shakespeare collapses on a child and it is only one hundred years later that they dig him out and find that he has become an old man.
And then there are the capitalists; important looking gentlemen in suit and ties and power-suited blonde women, striding purposefully behind desks and shouting words like 'growth' and 'market' and 'bonds' and 'potential' over the phones; customers running through the vertiginous rows of books after that elusive copy of The Wealth of Nations or The Road to Serfdom. Gunfights break out in the magazine stall over the last copy of The Onion or The Spectator. Customers corner staff and demand items; and the cowering staff have no chance but to supply them.
But there is a real Borders, too. I've been there. People sit up one end of the store and sip lattes, while at the other end, people browse lackadaisically through the magazine section.
There are pictures of Che. Apparently, there's a new Che autobiography out. All of Michael Moore's books are there, too.
Lost, my eyes filled with tears, I confronted a staff member.
"Don't you have motivational weekends?" I asked her. "Don't you have team building sessions and group spirit? Please tell me that you follow the law of supply and demand!"
"Oh no," she explained. "All the staff here are quite alternative. We're all from Melbourne Uni, and we're all into art, and stuff."
"But what about your bosses? Your managers? Aren't they capitalists? Aren't they ... American?"
"Oh, no," she said. "I really like my boss. She was a member of the Riot Grrrls."
I didn't know who the Riot Grrrls were, but then, I didn't need to know. Devastated, I left Borders that day. I had thought of them as a haven from the awful alternative subculture that had ingested the rest of Melbourne. But no. They had succumbed too.
They were all a bunch of ... hippies!
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
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