Many years ago I worked my very last retail job at Barnes & Noble. It’s a Barnes & Noble that like several in Manhattan no longer exists. It was in the Lincoln Center District and I was a bookseller assigned to the Performing Arts section. I became friends there with a girl named Brenda who worked in the Business section. Our sections were on the same floor so I would routinely go visit her at her information desk whenever I was bored or needed to get away from my post or just wanted to chat about something or other. We gossiped and talked and made each other laugh a lot. We also use to sing together.
I remember one time in particular when we were both just standing at her desk together leaning in unison and started singing a pop song, though I don’t remember what song it was. We just kind of fell into a perfect harmony together that was so natural it was as if it was happening without us. There are lots of things that happened there which I have forgotten, perhaps willfully but I always remember that moment because it was so beautiful and unexpected and easy. For a few seconds there was just us singing and really just being there in the midst of all the chaos, apathy and madness that came with working in that place with those people at that time. We made it bearable. As much as I often hated that place and wanted to be anywhere else, as infuriating as the habits of both the patrons and employees made me over during the years I worked there, In that moment I had no desire to be anywhere else but the present.