Book signings are not the fanfare that you'd expect them to be. For small-time authors like myself there are no lines of fans waiting anxiously as you enter the store. There is no applause. No cramping in the hands from constantly writing a note in books being taken home by wide-eyed readers.
There is usually a coffee involved. And, some nice book store staff to converse with over the course of 2-4 hours. And, there is always my favorite activity- people watching. After all, I'm a psychologist. I love to observe behavior. And, my years of customer service are revisited as I yell out "Hello! How are you today?" as someone comes into the store.
Now that I have a dozen or so signings under my belt I've decided that documenting the people I meet would make for an interesting read. Perhaps even another book someday!
There are the young people that come to my table for the candy- and I get to tell them a little bit about WWII and/or preserving old letters in their families.
There are the widows who spend at least 15 minutes with me reminiscing about their service-oriented husbands, brothers and fathers. One person I met this week was the child of a WW ONE vet! How fascinating! The stories are endless.
There are the bored and tired that just stop off at my table for a breather- and someone to talk to- about anything. Sure, they try to take interest in the subject but often fall short.
There are the ham radio aficionados who are drawn to the table because of the word "Radio" in the title. They always teach me a thing or two.
There are those who want to be more in touch with what their families went through during WWII because they were too young to really understand it all. They almost always purchase a book with eagerness to read and absorb it for all that they can.
But, the one man who has stood out during all of this was the man who patiently talked with me for about 10 minutes about WWII, a war he served in proudly. After a while he mentioned that his "buddy" had brought him out to get him out of the house for the day. He then paused. Tears welled up in his eyes and he told me about loosing his wife of 60+ years the week before. He was lost without her. He didn't know what to do with himself. He apologized to me for tearing up and for dampening my "big day".
I should have thanked him for reminding me what life is all about. The important pieces. He helped to put my "big day" of book signing in perspective. My life isn't about my book or my few hours spent at a signing to share my book. Its about the relationships we have with people- those we love. Although this book is about them in many ways and shared an amazing story of helping each other- I, the author, have to keep perspective on my own relationships to those I love. After all, we are not guaranteed a tomorrow.
Here's to the book store visitors everywhere! You never know how you may touch someone.