Monday, August 18, 2008

Humiliating Library Moment #1

The staff at my library are usually hip, young folks from the local university. I glow with the approval of them when they look over my literary picks. Kurt Vonnegut, huh? Cool., the skater dude with the longish hair will say as he puts the final kid's selection, "Yurtle the Turtle" in a pile to reveal my choices at the bottom. I bask in the awesomeness of myself and my reading selections. On another occasion it was the hippie chick who can rock a no-make-up face like nobody's business and usually has a homemade peasant top on, Animal, Vegetable, MiracleDon't you just love Barbara Kingsolver? I smile and nod. This is the first Kingsolver book I've read but cool hippie chick doesn't have to know that, right? Aaahhh… there is nothing as pathetic as seeking approval from the young, is there?

Today was not one of my shining moments. First of all, my kids were with me and I was taking back one book and one book on tape that may or may not have been overdue. Secondly, there was a huge line and only one person at the check out counter. She was not the usual youthful presence. She was a crotchety older woman who was clearly flustered by the crowd gathering in front of her desk. I had the kids throw their selections on the counter and handed her my card. She scanned it and said, "You owe $2.00 in late fees."

Blushing, I replied, "Can you tell me what those late fees are for?"

She turned the computer screen towards me and scrolled to the page that listed my overdue books. I saw the listing and said, "Oh, I see. I won't make you say that title." And I laughed uncomfortably.

She said, without batting an eyelash, (she was at least 75 years old), "Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch." Suffice it to say, she didn't use her inside voice and everyone in line and within a 2 mile radius of the library for that matter, heard her.

Not wanting to seem like a library loser and in a desperate attempt to draw attention away from that unfortunate title, I immediately jumped to my own defense, "Oh. I brought that back today. I put it in the drop slot when I walked in."

This news was not received by Crotchety Old Library Lady (COLL). She sighed heavily and walked slowly over to the drop slot. She opened it up and said snarkily, "What does it look like? I mean, it could be anywhere."

Me, trying to remain cheerful, "It's a book on CD and I turned it in less than five minutes ago so it should be close to the top."

This did not go over well either and COLL kept pulling out VHS tapes, holding them up and asking, "Is this it?"

"No Mam. It's a book on CD."

Finally, she held up the correct title. Relief flooded my body. "That's it." She returned to the counter, took my $2 and gave me a mini-lecture on how I should tell her up front that I had an overdue book when it was really busy. I thought about explaining to her that I wasn't sure whether it was overdue but thought better of it. I thanked her in my most sickeningly sweet Southern draw and sashayed out of there with my kid's books in hand, hoping like hell everyone wasn't looking at me thinking, "She might want to listen that Skinny Bitch book a couple more times."


  1. It was truly an inspiring effort, however, I must inform you that there is a 24 hour surveillance camera in place in the Cleveland Library,, and the entire staff under the age of 29 is required daily to review the tapes for training purposes, Soooo, Jullie, my Dear, I do believe your cover is blown, the best you can expect from cool hippie chick in the future is a cool "Oh, my, how nice."

  2. Hhhm. I signed out total trash from the library today. We're leaving on vacation and I NEED some beach books. In my defence I have spent the last month reading EVERY FLIPPIN book that Jane Austin wrote. At least I think so. Oh, and send some cool librarians my way, we only have the old ones. Sigh.

  3. We also have ultra cool, hip librarians and volunteers in my local branch (including me on the days when I actually show up). Fortunately for all, we have no COLL at our library.
    The best book I read recently was one called, "How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read." I've impressed many people by using the tips in that book, while acting nonchalantly, like one who reads a dozen important books a day and actually understands them.
    Oh, and I've never read any Kingsolver books, so you're way ahead of me.

  4. I'm the loser who never visits the library, so I have no experience to relate. I need to get back on the reading bandwagon!

  5. Love this, love this! But alas, our library is small and I know the staff all too well (two of the assistants teach Thing 2's children's choir at church) fact, I don't even have to request books anymore...the head librarian (who is one of my best pals and whose son is Thing 1's best friend) called me the day the new Dean Koontz came out and said, "Don't even bother, it's reserved under your name when you have a chance to stop by."
    They know I'm totally not cool!

  6. When you live in a small town and everyone knows everyone, it is somewhat embarrassing to have to call the library to renew your book titled, "Are you there vodka, it's me Chelsea" but I did it anyway...

  7. We have the ability to renew books on-line!
    I have been taking Little Man to the Library when baby girl is napping. The kids were at the in-laws this past week, so I borrowerd a book for ME to read this time! Yippee!! That was exciting.

  8. Just be glad she didn't have you arrested for the books. Did you hear about the young girl who was picked up and booked for her transgression?