Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

15 Sep 2002, 0:16 a.m.

I've been working on the cash registers, all the livelong…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2002 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I've been working on the cash registers, all the livelong day. I got worried when I realized that register work left me with black marks on my hands that would not wash off. My colleague Sarah reassured me:

"That's ink from the register tape [receipts]. Comes off with nail polish remover. Back when I worked the register every day, I always had a black mark on my thumb from where I ripped off the receipt. I always thought that if I dropped dead in the street, the police would know I was a cashier."

Thanks to Zack for pointing to a George Orwell site that contained "Bookshop Memories". In a rather low-key way, I hope, I've been following in the footsteps of Orwell and other writers in working blue-collar jobs and soaking in observation. And -- as I should have guessed from Keep the Aspidistra Flying -- Orwell once worked in a bookstore!

Many of the people who came to us were of the kind who would be a nuisance anywhere but have special opportunities in a bookshop. For example, the dear old lady who �wants a book for an invalid� (a very common demand, that), and the other dear old lady who read such a nice book in 1897 and wonders whether you can find her a copy. Unfortunately she doesn�t remember the title or the author�s name or what the book was about, but she does remember that it had a red cover.