Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Electrician and Children's Books

One of the thousands of things I learned from my old boss Hy Sarick, (from my Children’s Book Store days), is that you should always replace your light bulbs as soon as they go out. For those of you who have been to Tinlids, you know that that’s not such an easy task. Our ceilings are about 50 feet high, and the lights are those long fluorescent tubes that don’t even fit in my car. But Hy Sarick said “if someone comes into your store and sees those burnt out lights, they’ll think they’re in a dump. “ In fact the first time he came to see my store, I saw him look up. And then he pointed. Up . At the burnt-out light. And shook his head. I of course made some excuse about not having a ladder high enough, but the damage was done.

This week I called my fabulous landlord who sent Giovanni the electrician, and his son ( I can’t remember his name). Anyway, Giovanni is quite the character and will talk to me (actually to anyone , I’m sure) about any topic you can think of. So today, while his son was high up on the ladder, Giovanni was in the Science section, looking at a book on butterflies. As I walked by, he turned to me and said “you know, these are children’s books, but look at me – I’m reading this and I’m still learning something. I know a lot about butterflies already, but it’s never too late to learn more. Did you know the tent caterpillar can be very destructive? I don’t kill them though. I don’t kill anything because I’m a gardener and I figure if God put the spiders there, and the bees , well that means they have a job to do… “ Then he told me about his neighbor who was always spraying chemicals on his lawn to keep it green. And chemicals on his plum tree to keep the worms away… and he went on about this for a bit and talked about nature getting even.

I could have listened to Giovanni all day. First of all, he has the same Italian accent my dad had, so I felt l was related to him….. and secondly, he seemed so taken by the books. He was also really really passionate about electricityand told me all about ballasts and how well made they were - “we replace some ballasts that are 40 years old. Do you know how solid these ballasts are? Feel the weight of this. There’s copper wire in there and lots of good material that we should be re-using. But they sell them to China because we don’t have a good environmental program to support the re-cylcling of this material…..” he was so animated in everything he talked about, from his stories of Italy, to the environment , healthy food, and the future of China.

Like many days, I'm reminded today of how books bring us together. Giovanni dreams of writing his stories down, and especially his invention ideas, that no one has thought of yet.  But he's too busy .   He said to me “you can learn everything I’m talking about , from all these books you’re selling. “ Like I didn’t know this already. But I just smiled and thanked him. Until, just as he was leaving, he stopped, looked up and said “but really, you should always replace your lights right away. Or else the customers will think this is a dump”. True story. Next time I’ll video tape him to prove it.

--Maria Martella

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