I love going to the library. We go every week. I reserve books/videos/computer software/audio books/CDs online and then we make our trip to pick things up. Then when we get there I browse the shelves for more. It's not unusual for us to come out with 50 items in one trip. It's annoying to my husband, but he's okay as long as I don't send him to pick up our stuff. It embarrasses him. I think he feels like he's looting the place. Imagine that.
I will say it hasn't always been such fun for me. The librarians in our branch our very...well...librarian-ish. I like to refer to them as the Library Gestapo. They are well over 60 and very particular about library rules and regulations. Don't be caught breaking them or you will pay. See, books you can keep for two weeks. But videos and DVDs are only allowed out for one week. They charge you 50 cents a day for each day they're overdue. Now there have been several instances in my library patronage where I haven't been able to make my weekly trip and the wonderful "free" videos from the library end up costing me more than a ticket to a Broadway show. One librarian in particular - we'll call her The Nazi - found it necessary to refresh my memory about the video rules. "If you get them back within the week, it won't cost you anything," she quipped, with a smug smirk.
But I like paying through the nose to see Thomas and the Magic Railroad every day for two weeks straight.
She even went so far as to correct my children for being too loud. I know, I know. You should be quiet in the library and it's her job to enforce that. But I was right there. The words were on the tip of my tongue. And they weren't yelling or screaming. Just talking in a normal voice as opposed to the hushed tones preferred by the Gestapo. And she gave me that look. Good grief. Give me a chance to teach them how to behave, for crying out loud.
I lost a book once. It was Madeline. You'd thought I had killed one of their children. The Nazi, fighting back tears, told me I should have a special place set aside for library books so we can keep them all in one place. I paid for it, but felt their eyes on me each time I visited. Watching me, cringing each time I touched one of their beloved little ones.
Not too long after that they called me, saying I hadn't returned another book. I searched everywhere for it, even though I was 99% sure I had taken back. But I was the one who had been complacent in looking after Madeline, surely it was my fault. Alas, it was nowhere to be found. I was prepared to buy yet another book we could never read. Imagine my surprise, and theirs, when they found it. Someone had put it back on the shelf without logging into their system.
Yeah. I felt vindicated.
However, because I love the library so much, I have done everything within my power to please her strict masters. I made each Wednesday our library day so we could have all videos back in seven days. We designated a special crate in the living room where all library materials go. I remind the kids before we go in to use their "library voices" and no running. I think the Gestapo noticed. They have been very sweet and accommodating when we visit. They even let us check things out when I forgot my library card once, saying, with a sweet smile, "We know who you are."
But last week, I failed them. Due to the stomach virus that ransacked our house, our items were overdue. I dreaded going back. I didn't want to see the disappointment in their faces. Hear the regret in their voices.
I'd lost favor.
And they let me know it. I tried to explain to the Nazi that we'd had a stomach virus, but her sly smile and failure to speak said it all as she silently checked us in.
I don't know whether to be ticked off or scared out of my wits. Why do I get the feeling they're sizing me up for cement shoes?