Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

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It’s a strange question, I know. It all started with this blog. I’ve been so excited about getting this set up and I’m determined to get as much exposure as possible, therefore I’ve been researching how to get my blog noticed by all the major search engines. While researching these search engines I also thought it’d be interesting to see what currently comes up when I type in my name (don’t laugh, you know you’ve done it at least once too!). It’s kind of amusing seeing all the hits that appear.

At the top of the list was Twitter, and not just my Twitter page, but also links to friends who follow me on Twitter. Then there’s Facebook, again not just my Facebook but also several people who are friends with me. Facebook is followed by MySpace, which I find amusing since I barely even use MySpace anymore (I have even considered shutting it down). And the hits just get weirder from there.

There are links to articles I wrote in college. Some aren’t bad. Then there’s the link to the website I had to make for a class junior year, and which they told us repeatedly before graduation we had to backup the files because everything would be deleted from the server within a year of graduating (so either they lied to us, or whoever was supposed to take down all those websites is just too lazy to do their job). There’s my grandfather’s obituary, online petitions I’ve signed and sites that seem to have appropriated my tweets. Plus a few random sites that just crawl the internet looking for information about people and post it in some kind of directory.

Ever hear of Zoominfo? They have me listed as two separate people, one who was “employed” (Ha! Employed. That’s funny) as a light technician (they also make me sound a lot more competent than I feel) by Shining Light Ministries and one who once contributed to The Etownian (“contributed?” I was freaking News Editor for 3 years!).

There were 10 pages of hits from Google. I think Webcrawler brought up 39 hits. I can’t remember how many I found through Ask.com. Several years ago when searching my name (yes, I have done this before and no, I still do not believe that you never have) I was lucky to find one full page of hits. This increase just goes to show how much more readily available information is than it was even just a few years ago; and there’s so much more information out there now.

All these blogs and social networking sites really put a lot of information out there on the web. I even found variations of my Twitter account in other languages! It’s almost scary how easily it is for people to find information on me. Even my plurk page (yes, I also plurk), which is set to private, comes up in a search (although you can’t see anything I’ve posted unless I friend you).

So if you haven’t Googled yourself lately, give it a try. You might be surprised by what comes up. If your name is as unique as mine it will be even more interesting because almost every hit actually does have to do with you, not someone else with your name. I now understand why people are always going on about being careful what information you put on the internet. Too bad my #1 goal right now is to get more exposure online. Censuring myself doesn’t really mesh well with increasing blog traffic. Besides, I didn’t find anything bad about me … at least I don’t think I did.

Oh no they didn’t…

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I was at work today, busy minding my own business and getting work done, when I happened to walk by the Twilight table (an entire pine table devoted to the plethora of Twilight related merchandise; I think this table wins the award for longest display in the history of the company). As I walked passed the table I caught of glimpse of something awful.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I actually have read the entire Twilight saga and did enjoy the books. They’re no Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, but for what they are they aren’t bad. Compared to some things teens are reading these days, they’re actually pretty good. That said, they have gone way overboard with the merchandise tie-ins. I mean, do we really need Twilight rubber stamp kits or a Bella and Edward perpetual calendar? Are the door hangers really necessary? Or the Twilight jewelry box? (I will admit, I kind of like the mini trunk.) For the most part I’ve become immune to the ridiculousness of the merchandise on this table. However, today something new caught my attention.

They are now marketing copies of Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights with Twilight-themed covers. The cover of Wuthering Heights even mentions that it’s Bella and Edward’s favorite book. My initial reaction to this discovery was indignation. How dare they use these classics to make more money from Twilight fans? Is nothing sacred? Have they no shame?

But then one of my co-workers pointed out that perhaps this is a good thing. And the more I think I about it, the more I realize maybe he’s right. Twilight Teens will buy nearly anything that has anything to do with these books. I’m sure many of them have already read Wuthering Heights just because it’s mentioned several times in the series. So why not market the books to these teens specifically? It’s introducing three great classics to an audience who may never have bothered to read them in the first place. Pride & Prejudice is my favorite book ever, and if this means more girls will discover it, then what’s wrong with that?

So, while I still think the Twilight merchandise is getting WAY out of hand, I can’t begrudge them this marketing ploy. If it gets teenage girls to read classic literature, so be it.

And you want to know what’s really bad? Once I took time to look through the books, I realized I really liked the format of the book. And the covers actually look kind of cool. Which sadly means I’ll probably end up buying them before too long. Even though I already own copies of all three. Don’t judge me.

I’d rather be sleeping

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I have to be up for work by 6:30, so I’d rather be asleep right now but I just can’t seem to shut my brain off. How much caffeine is in hot chocolate? Maybe that’s what’s keeping me up. Or the fact that I can’t stop writing new blogs in my head (I currently have three more planned out already, two are half written). I guess I can’t be too disappointed about that, since it’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about writing. It feels good.

Since I can’t sleep, I decided I’d share my lovely conversation with the receptionist at the Vet’s office today. I’m trying to find a vet for my kitten, since it needs to be neutered and declawed and I’m not exactly rich. We were given the name of a vet’s office, so I tried to call today. Let’s just say I wasn’t impressed. (Note: words in italics were not actually spoken)

Me: I’m calling because I need to get my kitten neutered and declawed and I’m just seeing how much you charge.

Lady: Is this a male cat?

Me: Yes. (Isn’t that inferred by the use of the word neuter? I am using the right word, aren’t I? Oh my god, I probably sound like an idiot!)

Lady: Front claws only?

Me: Yes.

Lady: $80

Me: $80 for both? (holy crap that’s $200 cheaper than my normal vet!)

Lady: Yes.

Me: Okay. Well, we got my cat from a woman who rescued the litter from the side of the road –

Lady: I don’t know why you’re telling me this.

Me: Because I’ve been told that some vets in the area will give discounts to people who adopted rescued animals.

Lady: I don’t understand what you’re saying. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Would you like to make an appointment? (Nope, I’m not the idiot in this conversation.)

Me: Um… Let me think when might be good-

Lady: We’re booked through the middle of Nove mber.

Me: Well-

Lady: So do you want to make an appointment?

Me: I’ll have to think about it. (Based on your people skills, I’m thinking no.)

So out of curiousity, if you were the receptionist lady, was I really that hard to understand? Wouldn’t a simple no, we don’t offer discounts have sufficed? Why do you feel the need to cut me off so many times and treat me like I’m an idiot and don’t even know if my cat is a boy or a girl? I got the definite impression from this conversation that the woman thought I was an idiot and she had better things to do with her time than talk to me on the phone. But my question is, isn’t that part of her job? Answering the phone? If she’s the first person people have to deal with before taking their animals to that vet’s office, then I’m surprised anyone goes there.

Of course, the fact that I’d only have to pay $80 weighs pretty heavily in their favor (my vet charges $300 then another $40 for shots). Maybe they have to keep their prices low to make up for poor bedside manner.

And now it’s nearly midnight and I really should be sleeping.

Things Never to do in a Bookstore #1

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Everyone who works in retail knows that customers can be extremely difficult. You really should be a people person if you’re going to work in the retail business. I, unfortunately, am not. Which may be why people get on my nerves a lot more than they do other people. But I do know that there are some things customers do that would annoy anybody.

Just ask any cashier or associate in any retail store you walk into and they can give you a stupid story about something a customer has done that day alone. (Provided, of course they are willing to tell you and aren’t afraid of the wrath of their employer.) I have many such stories and will probably be sharing them all with you over the course of time.

I work in a bookstore, which in many ways is ideal for me (despite the fact that I’m not a people person) because I love books. You may be surprised to learn that not everyone who shops in a bookstore is as pretentious and cultured as you may expect (some people have never even heard of Hemingway; shocking I know).

While I’ve come to accept the idea that not everyone shopping in my bookstore loves books as much as I do, there are some quirks you find with EVERY SINGLE CUSTOMER that just drive you insane. So, I thought over time I might try to instruct some of you in ways not to irritate the nice, friendly bookseller helping you find your books. Please don’t be offended if you do any of these things. This is purely constructive criticism (yeah, I always hated that term too).

As a Head Cashier (one step below management, which means I do all their work and mine too but don’t get paid for it) I spend a lot of time at the registers and there are many things people do while checking out that really irritate me. But the #1 thing that irritates me the most is the topic of todays “Things Never to do in a Bookstore.”

If an item does not scan, NEVER say to the cashier, “I guess it must be free today.”

I know YOU may think it’s clever, and possibly the most witty thing you’ve come up with all day, but do you know how many times I’ve heard that joke already today? I ring up on average between 50-100 customers per day, which is about half of what a normal full-time cashier can ring in a day. I’d be willing to bet at least 5-10% of those people have already tried that line. Multiply that by 5 days a week and you get the picture. I hear it A LOT. After about the second day on the job, it’s no longer funny or amusing.

Sure, you may get a really gracious cashier who is willing to still laugh even though it’s the 15th time she’s heard it today, but me? I’m not a people person, remember? I’ll just give you my forced, “Oh my god, really? You had to say that?” grin. Also known as the smile and nod (which I give to almost every customer who thinks they’re a comedian … which is almost every customer).

And this is just at a bookstore where we ring up fewer transactions than, say a K-Mart or Walmart. Imagine how many times they must hear that line every day.

So please, the next time you have an item that just doesn’t want to scan, resist the urge to joke about it. And if you must, at least come up with a more clever line, I’m begging you. Because if you can actually get me to laugh a genuine laugh then you’ll probaby be my favorite customer all day.

Starting over again

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About once a year or so I decide it’s time to get serious about this writing thing and start blogging on a regular basis. About a week later I usually begin to fail. Either I get bored with the way the site works, I don’t have anything interesting to say or I just can’t find the time to write what I want.

This blog is my latest attempt. If all goes well you’ll be able to come here to view all my thoughts on anything and everything I can think of (and trust me, I have a lot of opinions about a lot of things). I recently finished reading Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster (which I highly  recommend) and she was offered a book deal thanks to the right people reading her blog. Now, I don’t think I’m nearly as entertaining as she is, but reading that book inspired me to give it a chance. Maybe someday a book agent will read this site and offer me a book deal (hey, it could happen).

So here’s to starting over. Let’s hope this blog is more successful than it’s previous incarnations!