There are people in this world, of which I am not one, who set out to do things and do them right away. These are the achievers, the do-ers, maybe the get-rich-quick entrepreneurs. They are not the TL Livermores of the world.
When I was a kid there was a man who lived, briefly, on Irwin Street, the street Lynn and I vacated just last year. At the time my home was on Tincup Drive, which abuts Irwin. The Sweetkind family lived on Irwin, and the Sweetkinds and Livermores were friends, so we heard about this man.
He was rumored to have won a Congressional Medal of Honor, but he kept very much to himself, so the Sweetkinds didn’t really know him. But they swore up and down that he built a garage behind his house in a matter of three days.
In fact, everything they could see that he put his mind to he accomplished, and my parents’ circle of friends took to referring to him as “The Six Million Dollar Man” in honor of the TV show we all watched.
I know this much: if this man — would his name have been Fox, maybe? — had decided he was going to convert part of his business storage space into a used bookstore, there would be a bookstore by now. Right now, in downtown Gunnison, what we have instead is still a twinkle in TL’s eye.
It’s really not even that, because so far all the twinkle belongs to Gilly. She has been the one to wade into our storage space and clear a path for said used bookstore, and she has alone has burrowed through our many boxes of printed shirts and other garments we deemed unsuitable to sell to our screen-printing customers.
We used to donate these garments. For many years they went to an orphanage in Juarez, but now they request only cash donations. Last year the brand-new garments went to a Goodwill in Albuquerque, but we still somehow have box upon box of clothing taking up space.
Gilly has sorted and sorted until she feels we have more clothing inventory to sell than probably any other bookstore you’re liable to visit. “Books and Beyond” could end up as the default name, matching the “T-Shirts and Beyond” sign we took down from the front of the building two summers ago, intending to replace it sooner than the never it so far is.
My contribution to our shoestring effort was going to be inventory and three bookcases that are sort of in use in the guest room but which were always intended, with the move off Irwin Street, to go to a new home not ours.
I’m still sorting books — a project that led to me reading a 1957 mystery novel yesterday — and need to empty two of the bookcases, but I had one ready to go when I sat on the floor and really looked at it.
I’ve been saving a decorative piece that broke off the front of one of the shelves, thinking I might fix it up before the garage sale that was preceding the notion of a bookstore, but now that it’s going to be used in commercial fashion it for the first time occurred to me what a waste of space the three shelves are, when four would display that much more merchandise.
Were I Mr. Fox (we’ll just call him that until a correction presents itself), this would all have been done in a day, probably weeks ago. But we’ve clearly established that I am hardly Mr. Fox, and I have been stymied by an unexpected quarter.
As you know, my journey toward self-reliance in the trades only began in January, with the advent of my woodshop class that resulted in a bookcase that I’m still pleased with and that Marrakesh is beginning to help himself to, using the steps to reach a window ledge.
I was just beginning a conversation with my teacher about a ladder/step project to access the crawl space when Corona came calling, and the woodshop was shuttered, long enough for me to forget nearly everything I was learning.
The shop is now open, but that turns out to be more of a theoretical statement than practice. The owners announced they would open the Tuesday prior to Memorial Day and be open 9-5 every day but Thursday and Sunday. Of course, the days that work best for me would be Sunday and possibly Thursday, or after 6 p.m.
Saturday after “re-open” I went to discuss the schedule and my projects, but the door was locked with a scrawled note saying no one would be there until Tuesday. I still don’t get why any of us needed a holiday weekend after a mandatory holiday 2.5 months, but whatever.
A week ago Saturday I tried again and had success, I thought. I made arrangements with Brandon that I would come back yesterday with my project list.
But then I looked at the bookcase that wants another shelf, so Monday I loaded it and a very long plank into my truck and took them to the woodshop. Which was closed without explanation, just a clock on the door with the hands set to 10.
I returned everything to Gilly’s space-in-progress, and then yesterday, armed with a project list now expanded to include another of the bookcases that isn’t maximizing space, headed back to the woodshop. Where the clock read “back at quarter to twelve” and me there at 12:30.
The door was unlocked because a member named J.J. was working on his Jeep, but the college student who was supposed to be minding the store hadn’t shown, which didn’t stop the owners from taking the day off anyway.
I hauled everything in and then had to ask J.J. if he knew how to adjust the saws, which he did, and then I helped him by turning his steering wheel as he installed something under his Jeep, but that still didn’t result in a completed bookcase.
As I was leaving, a solution occurred to me that I can manage on my own — I can just install a fixed shelf using glue and nails, like I did for the bookcase I built from scratch, rather than trying to retrofit adjustable holes. But I also realized my limitations as I stood before the table saw, trying to decide how to make a straight cut on a board that doesn’t have a straight edge at either end.
In our one meeting of my four attempts, Brandon was fairly frank about taking a second job, wanting his evenings to spend with his kids, and the despair of sitting in an empty building with the power on and no one coming in the door of what had been quite the going concern in mid-March.
I get every last bit of that, but I’m not sure that he understands that you have to do some of that sitting around to give people a chance to come back. You need to get a little creative — I imagine I’m not the only member who would be willing to pay for one-on-one instruction — and accommodating.
He talked about setting the building up with a key code, so that members can access it at their convenience, which is all well and good for members like J.J., who already know how to boost their Jeeps up (as long as another member is handy to turn the steering wheel when he needs it). But if I can’t even figure out how to tilt a sawblade upright, I’m not sure I should be left alone with power tools.
In the meantime, the bookstore lurches along in the staging stage, a stage it’s liable to be in so long it would make Mr. Fox despair, if only he knew.