You had some trouble treating the librarian as a human being and I thought I’d help you out by responding to each thing you said to him.
While in line, you loudly said, “You know, there is a line here! Maybe you could hurry up and actually do your job!”
See, here’s the thing. He was doing his job – by helping each person in the line in the order that they got into the line. That’s how lines work. Everyone takes a turn. But it’s okay: my three-year-old struggles with this concept too.
Then you yelled, “What, are you the only person actually working around here? How about you call for help? Because THERE IS A LINE.”
Again, yes. There is a line. And here you are, having a hard time with yet another thing that my three-year-old does: using quiet voices in the library. But look, another librarian has heeded your cries and is coming to help. I think he probably shouldn’t have – because you didn’t use a quiet voice – but at this point I was starting to get the idea that perhaps everyone just wanted to get you out the door as quickly as possible. My toddler’s response to this at the time was, “That voice was too loud. We should have quiet voices in the library.”
Also, I would like to point out that you have a whole bag full of books, any one of which YOU COULD BE READING WHILE YOU ARE STANDING THERE. It’s not like you have nothing to do.
Now the librarian said – politely, to his great credit – “Can I help who’s next?” You responded, “FINALLY. Ugh.” Then you slammed your books down on the counter and glared at him. He asked, “Could I have your library card?” You said, “You don’t NEED it. I am RETURNING these.”
Now, directly to your left are two slots marked “Book Return.” What you do with these is return your books into them. That’s why they’re there. There is literally no reason for you to stand in line – or to interact with any other person – in order to return books. As an introvert, this is AWESOME. Please take advantage of it next time.
The librarian asked, “Can I help you with anything else?” You said, “YES! Geez! Here is my card! I have been TRYING to check these out this WHOLE time.” At this point you pulled out approximately twenty audiobooks from your tote bag, all with hold slips in them, and slammed them down on the counter. Then you said, “This place is the sorriest excuse for a library I have EVER seen. This is just ridiculous.”
First of all, this sorry excuse for a library has automated self-checkout, again directly to your left. You don’t have to talk to anyone to check out books. I do this all the time, like today, for example, when there was a line to check out books. There were five open self-checkout computers, so I used those and DIDN’T HAVE TO STAND IN LINE AT ALL. I think this could be a great option for you.
Secondly, this particular library branch was opened just over a year ago. It is nearly 45,000 square feet of space filled with over 100,000 books, plus newspapers, magazines, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks. Patrons can also access e-books, digital downloads, and digital magazines just by having a library card. If someone can’t find the item they want at this library, s/he can place a hold and have it delivered to this branch. There are public computers and comfy brand-new couches. On the second floor, there’s almost 5,000 square feet of meeting space for the community to use. And all of it is FREE.
IT COSTS NO MONEY.
Anyone can walk in and immediately have access to things that the vast majority of the world will never see: nearly unlimited educational and leisurely resources, at no cost. Including you: you blessed, blessed person.
Then you started dramatically sighing and huffing and muttering under your breath as you tossed your FREE audiobooks back in your tote bag. You informed the librarian, “And you better print me out a receipt. Ugh. I can’t stand this place.”
Really? THEN STOP COMING HERE. There are so many of us who see and enjoy the library for the magical, wonderful, unbelievable place it is; and we’d rather you didn’t spoil it for the rest of us.
The librarian handed you your receipt and – again, to his credit – said, “Thank you,” to which you responded, “Yeah, thanks for nothing. Standing in line and all this, I just, UGH.” Then you finally – FINALLY – stopped yelling and stormed out.
Might I note, you walked out with twenty audiobooks for which you did not pay. Just saying.
Okay. Snarky rant over.
I stood there and listened to you act truly horrible through this whole exchange because I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted to confront you but was so completely baffled by the words and tone coming out of your mouth that I could do nothing except try to keep my jaw off of the floor. After you left, I apologized to the librarian on your behalf.
I cried as I did so. In the library. I cried in one of the most amazing, empowering, joyful places, all because of the vitriol that you exuded. Because you treated a fellow human being as not just less than you, but as nothing. Someone was sitting there, serving you, giving you gifts and grace, and you hated him.
Whatever happened to you this morning/week/month/year/life to make you so angry, I am sorry. You must be miserable. (That sounds condescending, but I am completely sincere.)
Now that I have calmed down some, I have to take back what I said about not coming to the library. I’m pretty sure you need to spend more time here. In this building, and in these pages, you can escape from whatever is haunting you. You can learn that you are not alone. You can develop thousands and thousands of new relationships. You can confront your demons head on. You can gain tools for the fight and directions for your journey. You can see beauty when life is ugly. You can expand your horizons. You can travel far away from here. You can giggle and weep with people you’ve never met.
And, oh! So much more. Books can do all of this. And the library is there waiting for you, chock-full of glorious works for you to discover. All you need to do is show up and be quiet and still long enough for the words to reach you.
So come back soon, won’t you? And stay awhile. Stay until you are better, until you are healed, until you are happy.
Then stay a little longer, just for fun.
There’s enough magic to go around.