Monday, February 21, 2011

My Greatest Strength

In early November of 2007, I celebrated my 37th birthday at TGIFriday's with my wife, mother, and her new boyfriend. It was a grand occasion sullied only by one of the gifts that I was given by my mother and her man: Joel Osteen's best-seller "Become A Better You".

For those who aren't familiar with the work, it uses Christian scripture as a basis for telling one how to live a better life. I would've loved to have seen my face when I received it. I'm not against self-help books, but one that relies primarily on the Bible misses out on a good deal of other great information that's out there. My mother had written some kind of message on the first page of the tome; the page that's typically blank. Something along the lines of "All the best, hope this book is a help to you". I smiled, but wished they had spent the money on something else.

In most cases, I would go to Barnes & Noble and return the book; my experience working there in the late 90's alerted me to the fact that they happily accept exchanges for something else even if one doesn't have a receipt. The note that my mom had posted in the book put a dent in those plans, however. It was as if she was ensuring that I couldn't return it. I wasn't about to give up, though. I carefully tore that first page out and decided I would try returning it. The cashier at B&N looked at the book for a few seconds to make sure there was no obvious damage before giving me a credit on it. Unlike the minutes after I received it, I could now smile genuinely at the thought of getting exactly what I wanted.

Not too long after, the office I was working for provided all its employees with a copy of another runaway best-seller, this one called "Strengths Finder".

Its purpose was to find an employee's strengths and then tell them how to make the most of them. My boss said we would eventually get around to utilizing it, but months went by without a mention of it. I decided that I would just return the thing and wound up exchanging it for Britney Spears' new one, "Blackout"; great disc, one of my favorite tracks on it is called "Get Naked".

Wouldn't you know it, a few weeks later, we were told that it was time to do the exercises that were in the book. They could actually be done online which was a relief to me, but not so much when I went to the site because it asked for the specific identification code that was printed in each book. It looked like I'd have to buy the book back, but damn if I wasn't gonna try to find a way around it.

I went with my high-school friend to Barnes & Noble in LaCrosse one weekend and took a look at the copies they had of Strengths Finder. I noticed that the ID codes for each book were different, but realized that if I copied down one of the codes and then went onto a computer and used it, I might be able to get around having to purchase the best-seller. I got a piece of scratch paper from my friend and wrote down the digits with a smile on my face. A couple days later at work, I headed to the site, entered the code, did the exercises, and printed it all out. A group of us went over the results shortly thereafter. It turns out that my greatest strength is not letting books sit around that aren't going to be read.


ExtraO said...

haha... good for you. I'm a reader... but I only save my absolute favorite books. I like to pass on or donate the rest.
I enjoy the way you look at things, Thomas.

Rocketstar said...


SilverNeurotic said...

Honestly, I don't think I've ever been given a book that I've had to return.

Narkissos said...

hahaha.....NICE....luv the way rock always sez sez everything.....yet it sez

Phil said...

I'd write a longer comment but I'm heading to Barnes & Noble with a box full of old books.