You know you are in a bad way when you walk into a library looking for a fight.
In addition to being frustrated with everybody lately, I have made an effort to save money. I have stopped purchasing books and instead started using the Library. The Library is great. It is quiet, it is free, and in the summer, it is cool as can be.
But I got myself into trouble with this place recently. Due to some very exhausting weeks at work, a bout of slow reading, and general laziness, I had a book that was becoming increasingly more overdue as each day passed.
By the time I was finally able to return the book, it was approximately a month overdue. Entirely my fault for sure. And the day I brought it back was just as busy as all the ones before it, so I was only able to carve out a handful of minutes to run over to the library.
So I hustled my butt over to the library. Being completely fed up with service people and knowing that the book was extremely overdue I tried to drop it in the night slot hoping that I could just pay the fine at a later date. I would rather have the money owed already on my account to than have to see the look of disappointment in the librarian's eye as I hand her my book that was due roughly 4 weeks earlier.
I must pause here to tell you a story about my childhood. I was a pretty good kid, didn't get in too much trouble, but in the eyes of the library I was pretty much a felon. I couldn't for the life of me, bring myself to get books back to the library on time. I was always getting those carbon paper overdue notices saying I owed something like $1.67. And my parents would make me go there by myself to fess up and pay my fine.
The librarians even knew who I was. They were an old decrepit bunch, adorned in clothes from another time, spectacled, and smelling of powders. I would walk, barely taller than the counter and tell them I had a fine to pay.
Ahh yes, Richid Bomkey.
It was always so embarrassing.
The pinnacle came though when I had an abundance of overdue books and the library sent the notice along that said how not returning books was against the law and in addition to fines, criminals would be sent to prison. PRISON!
I held it together long enough to get out of the house and get on my bike to the library but once gone I started bawling. I cried all the way to the library and then sat down on the lawn outside reread the notice, get to the part about prison, and then start bawling all over again. How could this happen? I was too young to go to prison! I think I cam close to dehydration that day.
So fast forward to the future and you can understand my issues with returning overdue books. I tried the overnight box, but it's locked. So I have to go into the library where there is usually at least 2 people at the desk, one doing returns and one signing out books.
But of course today there was only 1 person at the desk (what is this the post office?) and a line of 11 people waiting to take out and return books. Having been there before I recognized the lady behind the counter as one of those shining beacons of civility and kindness.
I am pretty sure this was also the same clerk who snapped at me the last time I had been there when I accidentally handed her my gym card instead of my library card.
That's not the right card!
Alright library lady, play it cool. That was just a simple mistake on my part. Tiny plastic cards look alike OK? I am not trying to pull a fast one here.
Might I also point out that these books are free. What conman scheme could I possibly be running here. I mean, sheesh lady. Chill!
So as soon as I noticed there was only 1 person behind the desk, I did that thing where I looked around fanatically for another person to help me. I looked at the snaking line of misery and just muttered to myself while spinning around in a circle like I was Mary Tyler Moore.
Realizing there were no other solutions, I walked up to the counter, already a little bit on edge, and asked the woman if I was just returning a book if I could just leave it on the counter.
Did you check the drop box?
"Yes I did." And then I walked over and tried it again and came back in, and it's locked! "Can't I just leave it on the desk?"
I CAN'T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT, she snapped at me.
Can't be held responsible for that? What is that? That is a book! It is not like I walking in holding a radioactive baby Jesus. It's a frigging book! I can promise you it is not going to jump off the counter and run out the door.
But I guess I must be ridiculous. How could I expect you to control your own eyeballs and be aware of the shoebox sized orange book I place 1 foot from your face? And ya know what? Somebody is probably not going to steal it either because it's F#$%^& FREE! Everything in this place is free! It is a building dedicated to free. It shouldn't be called a library, it should be called the Freebrary. You don't even need to put locks on the doors!
After she snapped at me I stood there muttering rhetorical questions to no-one in particular. things like, "Well what am I supposed to do about this? Huh? Hrmm?"
And then I stormed out in a huff, holding my overdue book that was about to cost me 35 cents more.
So much for free.
Everyone was driving me crazy. The lifeless, unresponsive, barely coherent bodies behind desks whose only job is to scan a book or hand you a marble frosted. Are the only people who take these jobs those who have had their souls removed? I mean it must be miserable sitting in an air-conditioned building all day handing out donuts, stamps, and free books to people. Why are you so disgruntled?
I can only imagine the job posting these trolls replied to.
Hey there! Are you not proficient at anything? Do you have a bad attitude? Do you hate people? Have you never smiled in your whole damn life? Well have we got the job for you!
These feeling were all bubbling underneath the surface like lava, just waiting to explode. I was going to lose it big time, and this time it wouldn't just be muttering. I was going to do something that would get me into trouble that I would regret.
I was venting about these very things to a friend on my cell phone as I waited to cross the street in the city later that week. The light changed and I started to cross.
As I walked leisurely across the street talking into my phone, I must have looked like quite the a-hole. but ya know what? I was walking at a normal pace, and while I may have looked like I thought I was hot shit, I didn't actually. The little white man on the sign is walking, he is not sprinting, or pogo-sticking across the street. So I took was walking.
A guy waiting to make a turn obviously was not happy with my speed and shouted several derogatory things out his window at me. Without even thinking, and without turning my body I just reached back to give him the finger before I realized, wow Rich, this is not something you do.
So instead of giving him the finger, I just pointed him. Without looking. As if to say, "While I acknowledge your dooshbaggery, I choose not to respond to it."
I didn't stop walking. I didn't turn to see his reaction. I just kept on moving, praying the whole time that he wasn't chasing after me with a tire iron.
Maybe I need a vacation.