Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Homage to my stack

The only thing I like better than reading a good book is shopping for books. I like walking into a book store with an idea of what I want -- I keep an eye on the NY Times bestseller list, I talk to friends and family about what they're reading, I try to pull in the occasional book I should have read long before now. I also like aimlessly wandering around waiting for something to grab me.

The only thing I like better than shopping for books is shopping for books with a gift card. Free books = heaven (and yes, I understand the concept of libraries but I want to own my books so if I drop one in the bathtub, oh well).

I have been working with one particular client for almost a year now - he's a gem of a guy, a highly educated retired professional with a sharp sense of humor and a good attitude about his communication impairment. We'd gotten to know each other fairly well, as will happen when the person is working on verbal expression. I really, really like him as a person and have been impressed with his progress. It finally came time for discharge, and he gave me a card at the close of our last session. Stuck in the card was a gift card to a big box bookstore, for a very generous amount. Immediately a little bookworm angel and a bookworm devil appeared on my shoulders -- my hospital has a corporate compliance policy that no gift is to be accepted that is worth more than $50 and even if it is less than that it is to be shared with co-workers when able to do so. But who would ever know? My name is on the envelope. It's mine, right? Okay, so I would be fired immediately if anyone ever found out, but how would they?

It really wasn't the notion of generosity or doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing that made me email by boss to tell her the situation -- it was the need to alleviate the butterflies that would have been in my stomach any time I was called into a private meeting over the next ten years. The final decision was that the gift card would be used to purchase materials for the SLP service -- fun things that clients can benefit from like picture dictionaries, etc. I'm sure that my client would be more than happy with this outcome.

While I was listening to the argument from shoulder to shoulder for those few minutes, though, my mind wandered to "the stack" -- my pile of books that are yet to be read. I try to read them in the order I purchased/received them, but it's an imperfect system given that I get too excited about a few authors to wait, or Harry Potter happened to be a 7 part series, or I've gotten a book on loan from a friend, or it just doesn't seem like beach reading to be actually learning something. Even though I just bought a bunch of books a week ago, I had a daydream of a whole new gleaming pile of fun things to get into as summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter and there is still a wonderful pile of things to get to. It was kind of like when you walk into a furniture store and see so many beautiful things you want to go home and set fire to everything you own. But, my current stack is actually looking pretty darn good -- even the old soldiers who have been holding down the base of the fort for more than a year. I'm glad I chose to stay employed vs. buy new books. Now if it had been a gift card for DSW...

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