Thursday, June 30, 2011

HNT - Sue Retires

Yesterday was a strange and sad day.

Sue Hockeridge, one of my Textbook Buyers at the McMaster bookstore, retired.

Sue had been working at Titles Bookstore at McMaster University long before it took the name "Titles." She had been there for 42 years, starting the year I was born.

It was in the summer of 2006 just prior to me starting in my role at McMaster when I first met Sue. She was actually one of the three people to interview me for my current job. Given her decades of experience it made sense that she be there to determine if I was truly knowledgeable in the realm of books. I suppose I must have passed that test.

The course materials folks at Titles - Sue is on the far left
Of course, though I knew a lot about books and about bookselling, I knew virtually nothing about academic bookselling back then. It's a similar world, but there are so many variances that it has been like learning a whole new aspect of bookselling.

And I've learned a lot from Sue in the five years that I've been her boss. Or, her "crazy boss" as she sometimes has refered to me. (I always took that as a compliment) She was a pleasure to work with and taught me a great deal, particularly in the past month as she has passed some of her buying responsibilities over to me to take over.

It's hard to imagine such an energetic go-getter sliding into retirement. Since I've been there I have continued to depend on Sue's long knowledge, experience and sheer enthusiasm for her work. She always put serving students and faculty first and inspired me to do the same in my daily tasks.

I imagine that this morning she's already awake and thinking about getting to work and the hundreds of little things that need to be done as we move towards what's known in academic bookselling circles as the "September Rush" (yes, one might think that it's quiet at a campus bookstore during the summer, but that's when all the gathering of required text material info takes place, when all the ordering and other prep work related to that chaotic and very busy September period takes place)

But today, Sue is officially retired. She can turn her alarm back off and drift back to sleep. But likely, she has already gotten up, put on some tea and is reflecting about the four decades she spent at the bookstore at McMaster, at the hundreds of relationships she cultivated there over the years; just as surely as today, I'm not the only colleague of Sue's who is thinking about her and wishing her all the best as she rides off into the sunset to enjoy a wonderful new chapter in her life.

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