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The mundane tasks and indignant exchanges with impossible customers are hilariously captured in this collection of personal essays by a cross-section of writers and humorists. Some, like a spa attendant's dishy tale, are spun with a catty flair and flirt with a mild contempt for frivolous consumers; others, like Wendy Spero's turn as a door-to-door knife seller, are outrageously funny and incorporate life lessons in the litany of humiliations. Breezy and occasionally creepy musings on everything from guilt over serving fattening Swedish pancakes to seniors to the horrors of working at Sears may provide some nostalgic chuckles and perhaps even some unpleasant flashbacks as this collection elevates retail selling to a rite of passage. Two stories in particular that have less to do with the frustrations of the job and more about the impact of the experience on future endeavors: Hollie Gillespie recounts her days as an industrious child entrepreneur and maintains her steadfast optimism in humanity, and the memories of writer and one-time drummer Jim DeRogatis, who passed the time—but never worked—in a local music store reveals the enduring influence of a mentoring shop owner and achieves true poignancy. (Sept.)
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