Monday, July 10, 2006

Since I finally broke down and got a library card, I've enjoyed a lot of stuff about the whole library experience.
First, you can actually order books online now. I remember the annoying inter-university loan program from college. Fear of the process prompted me to pick report topics based on what books were available in the tiny library on campus. With the new system, I can request books through the library website and get an email when they show up. Then I pick up the book in an envelope left for me on the special shelf and check out.
Also, there is no librarian judging my literary choices. Checking stuff out works like the self checkout lines -- scan the library card, scan the book, print receipt, wander home. At no time does a librarian say, "All you ever check out is comic books. Don't you want a book without pictures" or, like when I was a kid, "Isn't there something not in the Science Fiction or Fantasy section you'd like?"
Third, I can look over the shoulders of people using the computers to determine what is cool and popular these days. Of a bank of twelve computers in use last week, over half were visiting MySpace. None of those people are on my Friends list, either.
The other six were split between eBay and email.
Yesterday I found the fourth and most awesome reason to go to the library: Crazy people!
I picked up a couple of Justice League graphic novels and went to wander through the Science Fiction area. No The Great Gatsby for me. Once in High School + once in college is two times too often for me. As a side note, I urge everyone to write to your congress person and call for an immediate ban on future printings of The Great Gatsby. Enough trees have given their lives for that book. It was crap in the twenties and it is crap today. A little known fact about that book is that there are enough copies of The Great Gatsby in print already to turn every child in the world off reading forever, twice.
Okay. So I started over towards the check out area when I heard "May I help you?" from one of the librarians. I had been offered help twice already (I suppose I have that lost and helpless look. Or maybe they are just hitting on me -- I get that a lot.) so I turned to decline and saw someone who was giving the lost and helpless look with professional level zeal. Maybe not professional, but this person was a natural.
She was visibly angry, almost quivering, and her eyes were a bit more glazed than people get without the aid of chemical enhancements. Her reply to "May I help you?" instantly etched itself into my brain for future use at grocery stores, car dealerships and doctor's offices: "NO! Not unless you can get inside their heads and find out what they are whispering about me when I turn around!"
The library must be an awful place if you have a paranoid fear of whispering.
After we went home, we decided to check out another county library to pick up a specific book they had in stock. On the way in, I was relating the story of the crazy lady (And please understand, when I say "crazy lady" I only mean to identify her for the purposes of this blog. "Crazy" is an identification, not a diagnosis. I could refer to her as "blue sweater lady" but that would be confusing since I never mentioned her clothes before. If you see her, feel free to call her "crazy" if you like -- just don't whisper.) and our steps lined up with those of a younger guy, probably a student of the college where this brance of the library is located.
"Hello," I said.
"Hi! How are you?"
I responded with the non-committal, "Fine. And you?"
Now, honestly I make an effort to pay attention to the answer to that question. Too often "How are you?" is thrown out as a conversational placeholder and I hate to catch myself using it that way.
It sounded like he said, "Not too good. My friend was stabbed."

"Sounds like you are doing better than him."

Of course I didn't really say that. That would be awful. And I'm not really sure he said "stabbed". There was a lot of traffic noise. He might have said, "My friend was in an accident" or "My friend is on fire," or maybe, "My friend was stabbed -- I still have the knife." I've blocked out weirder stuff.
I defaulted to the standard, "I'm sorry to hear that."
Whatever happened to this guy's friend, crazy people are just one more awesome reason to skip Barnes and Noble.

Except that one time there was this crazy person in the ladies restroom at Barnes and Noble that Shana had to report to the authorities. I'll let her blog about that one.


Andrew Rhodes said...

Crazy people canget graphic novels in libraries now?!?!?!

Another question....what if it was a graphic novel of Gatsby and he had super abilites?

Garrick said...

Yes. I have three Justice League and a Buffy The Vampire Slayer checked out right now.

The Great Gatsby and the word "super" had never been used in the same sentence until your post.
He could use his super human molar cufflinks to bore criminals into giving up their evil ways.
"Take the nap of Justice, evil doer! I'm off to dance with flappers!"

Andrew Moore said...

I love the crazy people in public libraries. That's half the reason I go!

The other half is so I can rifle through the "free book" box outside, thus making me one of the crazy people.

The Great Gatsby! Able to pine for a woman 400 yards away!