To begin, this letter is in no way angry at all. More eye rolling, smiling, shaking my head at the silliness of how this all went down. I’ve been waiting for some sort of attention to come from higher up. I assumed it would. …What took so long?

This letter is for the person (or people) who get paid more in a year than I have working for the same company in ten years.

You probably have a couple of your favorite Dilbert cartoons pinned up in your office, maybe quote a couple of lines from “The Office” with a coworker at the water cooler. Dilbert’s boss is recognized as someone who doesn’t understand what Dilbert goes through at work. Upper management, I think, is our version of Dilbert’s Pointy-Haired Boss. You work in an office, you probably lease a Mercedes, you most likely wear a nice suit to work. I guess you get paid to read my comics. Thanks for reading! You rank among the routine 15,000 readers!

I was recently called into the manager’s office to be told that my comics show that my characters are unhappy at times at work, that some of the characters are based off of real people, and how I used the “NooK” in the comics. Then I was politely asked not to do any of those aforementioned topics. What, I’m not allowed to let off steam in some form when I have a bad day at work? People who asked to be in my comics should be turned away? That stuff really didn’t matter, you needed to make a case with more than just one bullet point. You did it all for the Nook E…reader.
I’ll answer the issues placed before me:

–I’m not “unhappy” at work. I like my job. It’s a fun environment, I like my coworkers, some of them I like enough to ask them if they want to be in the comic. Some of them asked me if I could put them in the comic. The examples brought up showing my “unhappiness” were dated two years ago. During that time I was unhappy. I had to work under a manager who was a thief, stealing books that were meant for the employees for our Holiday meeting, spying on employees going to the restroom, cheated employees out of reviews that everyone else praised, lied about how we were “happy”, and took down the required “We Listen” hot-line poster so we couldn’t call and complain about him any more.

–Some of the views or opinions expressed in the strip aren’t even my own. People have emailed me, people who work for this company, other bookstores, and other retail establishments, to put an idea or an experience they had into the comic. I did this because they were funny.

–The people in my comics that are based on and have let me use their real names, gave me permission. They like that they’re part of the strip. They’re my friends. If you actually read the comics for the humor, you would have noticed this. The characters shown in a bad light are based off of an amalgamation of experiences I’ve had with multiple customers, employees, and managers.

–It appears that the lack of enthusiasm for Nook portrayed in the strip is more of your reasoning behind very politely asking me to stop than it has to do with me using a Trademarked Property. If I had praised the Nook above sliced bread, your whole approach might have been different I assume. I praise your E reader all the time when I’m at work because it’s part of my job. I see nothing wrong with being myself off hours. That’s freedom of speech, right?

I feel that through all of this there’s an enormous disconnect between the Home Office and us Retail Grunts. Maybe you’ve actually moved up through the company ranks of retail to where you’re at now. Good job. I wonder if somewhere along that journey you’ve forgotten some of, if not all of, the memories that brought you there and the ideals that gave you the drive to do so. Perhaps you’ve never experienced real, true customer service (like trying to fend off a spit filled tirade from someone who can’t find “the Da Vinci Code, or cleaning up a…mess in the men’s restroom”) or maybe you’ve just forgotten.

Your response to my view of the Nook, which I have used as a basis for all of those E readers, is proof of your disconnect with the real world. Rather than taking it in good humor about the weak points of your product, you feel you need to take a stand about my opinions–my comics that I produce with my own free time–on the Nook because I work for your company. Had I chosen the Kindle, Sony E reader, Kobo, iPad, or whatever else is showing up in stores, I bet you could not care less, or might even cheer me on for dragging down a competing E reader.

The Bookseller strip was created to feature retail and customer service humor in general, and bookstores in particular. That includes negative aspects about working retail or in a bookstore. Your “concern” for the attitudes shown in my strip, insinuating I whitewash my material is not appreciated. It’s almost as if I was ordered as an employee of a company to only vote for one particular political party.
Sometimes after a rough day at work, one needs to laugh at the situations endured during the day. It’s how we can wake up and face another day in retail during peak hours. Or during the holiday season (shudder). Or working for an incompetent, disagreeable (to put it nice) manager.

Being forced and pushed and threatened with “write ups” and “a talking to” to sell products that we don’t 100% agree with is one of those situations. You can write up how marvelous our “readers advantage” program is because you don’t face the prospective customer that’s now cussing us out for asking if they wanted to “save” ten percent on their books today. We need to laugh at that stuff. Telling us to stop is pushing us one step closer to losing it.

I’ve received countless emails of how my comic strip has helped retail employees get through their shifts as described above.

Maybe this was the only way to go about this, company procedures and all, but you could have saved a lot of time.
I have email. mike-At-krrobar-Dot-com