Tuesday, March 08, 2005

What's "Amazon.com," backwards?

I first met Louis about 35 years ago, in California.

It's only an accident that we're now working in the same, small office of the same software company in Colorado, but that's good luck, not bad. I've had both kinds and I can tell the difference.

Louis is an interesting guy. Whatever you're thinking, more interesting than that.

I don't see him as much as you'd expect, given that we work together. Louis likes to work 9-to-5, but that's 9PM to 5AM.

One thing Louis does in the daytime is rescue books. He's sort of like Aaron Lansky, but for English. This does, he'd probably point out, at least make finding the books easier.

Louis will drive over to the local recycling center and, with their permission, fill his car with books he rescues from their dumpsters. He figures he might, someday, be able to find a better home for them than their landfill.

His office, which is smaller than the National Yiddish Book Center, is a rat's maze of book boxes, sometimes stacked higher than my head.

He ships them to libraries. He ships them to bookstores. Sometimes, he finds a particularly interesting book and ships it to someone he's found on the web who really needs it.

Once a week, or so, I'll arrive at work and find a book, or two, or five, on my desk. He'll have found something that he thinks I might need, and have dropped it off in the middle of the night.

Usually it's obscure. Usually it's out-of-print. Usually he's right. It's just what I need.

He also leaves books for other people I know. I'll come in, see a book, know who it's for, and pass it on.

Occasionally, I'll go into his office, find a book, and ask for it, but it's usually better just to wait and see what appears.

Yesterday, I passed on a pair of books to a friend. She said, "It's like Amazon.com, only backwards. On Amazon, you figure out what you want and ask them to deliver it to you. With Louis, he figures out what you want; then you find out what you want because it gets delivered to you."

mocnozama. "Louis McNozama." Is that Celtic/Eastern European?

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