The crisp, winter air pricked at my bare cheeks and attempted to numb my legs through my jeans as I crunched through the un-shoveled snow on the sidewalk.
I’ll probably need to shovel this off later if I don’t have many customers.
I reached the glass door of the building on the square, pulled my keys from my pocket, and inserted the one marked with an “X” into the slot.
Now do I turn it right or left? I can never remember which way this silly lock turns. Let’s see ... oh yeah! Twice in this direction. Ha! Victory!
I pulled the door open and walked down the familiar hallway with books lining the entire left side and a single dim light in the center of the narrow ceiling. With systematic ease I made my way through more hallways, into rooms, and always past long rows of books, switching on dozens of lights in a way as natural as brushing my teeth.
Soon I made my way back to the main office room – the one with the window-like counters where people brought their books to checkout. A few buttons punched and soon the computer was whirring to life.
Let’s see, did I forget anything? Got the hallway lights, the ones in the Bible room, the reference room ... got the “open” sign on ... oh! Can’t forget the door.
Back through the front hallway I jogged lightly to the door and moved the blue and white sign from “closed” to “open”.
There. All ready.
I glanced at my watch as I jogged back to the office.
Ten minutes to noon. Perfect!
I decided to munch down a chocolate meal bar and make myself some French vanilla coffee before the official opening time. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about lunch.
Sitting at the desk next to the computer, I took a bite of my bar and savored the smell of French vanilla beginning to seep through the air – that lovely smell that I had begun to identify with the bookstore.
I finished up the meal bar just as the mechanical bell in the other room sang to me that someone had opened the door. I glanced at the round mirror that faced the front hallway. Through it, I could see all the way to the door. People would usually browse through the books out front before making their way to the inside. After a few minutes, a woman opened the door ahead of my desk.
“Hi, can I help you with anything?” I asked in my usual greeting.
“Oh no, I’m just lookin’ around.” She pointed down a hallway. “Is this the way to the fiction books?”
“Yes, all along that far aisle.”
She meandered down the hall, and I began taking a mental inventory of reserved books and the names associated with them on the shelves in the office.
The ringing phone interrupted my shelf searching. I grabbed the portable and punched the “on” button. “Rosenkrans’ Book and Bible, how may I help you?”
“Yes, I was just wonderin’ how long you’re open today?” A southern male voice asked.
“We are open from noon to five-thirty.”
“Oh good, you’ll have a group of us in there soon then. We’re visitin’ from Arkansas and wanted to stop by while we’re in the area.”
Fifteen minutes, three phone-calls, and two customers later an invasion of laughing Arkansans infiltrated the hallway and dispersed throughout the store.
“Hey, could you tell me which way the Bible room is?” One asked in a thick southern drawl.
“Do you know if you have any books on this list?” Another queried on her turn.
I enjoyed helping all customers, but those happy-go-lucky southern accents always made my day when I was blessed enough to be graced by their presence.
It was like watching pre-schoolers in a candy store, or a cook at a pampered chef convention, the way they browsed through the Bibles and books with unbridled excitement.
“Wow, these are the most amazing deals! I’ve never seen books this cheap!”
“I’m gonna tell all my friends about this place. It is the best place to get Christian books!”
“I really appreciate the ministry you guys have here. It is awesome!”
At the end of the day as I was locking up, I thought about all the wonderful Christ-loving people I had met through the store. I was inspired by their joy and civility. And I wondered who God would bring my way tomorrow.
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