With dreads hanging over his eyes and a backpack, Moshe Mashela looks like a typical student. However, this third year BCom Law student has a cool job as part-time staff manager at a bookstore.
What are some of the challenges you face in juggling a part-time job and university?
The biggest challenge is time and energy. You have less time for school, but you manage your time properly. Luckily, shifts are flexible.
What are some of the difficulties of the job?
It’s retail so there are difficult customers. The worst ones try to get their way by shouting at or insulting staff. One of their favourite lines is: “Call your manager.” Most people are nice and reasonable. The women are pretty decent, although you sometimes get hit on by old men and women, which is not cool.
A challenge is when people describe books they are looking for too vaguely. We just plain don’t have a mental index of blue books with red writing about a lady or a cat, so we usually tell them there’s not much we can do without a title or an author, or a key word at least. No matter how vague a description, we’ll still do our best to help them find it.
What are some of the best things about this job?
Interacting with people. You meet really nice people at bookstores and you have to get to know them to know what kind of books they like, and recommend something else they might like. You also learn a lot from them. They end up recommending books to you. The staff, which has become more of a family than anything else. The books, obviously the books. And, I’m not going to lie, it helps to have an income.
Any funny stories while you’ve been at work?
There’s this little boy, he sincerely thinks that he’s a wizard, and is convinced that we’re hiding our “real” spell books somewhere, and keeps asking for them. There was a lady once who asked for a book she saw in a dream. People sometimes get mixed up and ask for books by Jane Eyre, or when the next installment of Anne Frank’s diary will be released.