Sometimes, life is funny. I just remembered something that happened to me about twenty years ago, while reading this post from Tanya Cliff (Thank you Tanya!!!)
I was in College, and on a budget. Tight budget, that is. I did have a job, but I was working for my parents, and since the business was just starting, I didn’t even get half the minimal wage…
So, to content my love for reading (I was still pretty much internet-free back then… All pure and innocent… LOL) I went to the library on a regular basis. Until one day, when life got more complicated, with my classes, and work, and the whole “having friends to hang around with” stuff.
And then, I didn’t go back for a while. A long while. Many months later…
One beautiful summer day, I found the three books I had borrowed the winter before. Same three books I obviously had forgotten to take back before taking my library time-off. Dang!
I looked inside the cover of the first novel, to discover I was about 8 months late. (yeah, I know…) And young me panicked! The library had my address, what if they sent the cops to get me?? Then again, they could have called before the eight months delay to tell me I was (a little) late… Nevertheless, I had to take the books back ASAP, before I had to sell my car to pay the lateness fee.
I did a quick calculation… Eight months of an average of thirty days, times the three books, times the five cents a day a book… 36$ !!
A fortune. I probably could have bought the three books with that much money, and I was quite angry with myself. I called my back then boyfriend, told him I needed his help, and that I’d pick him up in fifteen minutes…
I went to the bank bled my account of forty dollars, and rode to my love’s house. As soon as his butt touched the seat, he noticed the three books on the dashboard.
him – Library books?
me – Yes…
him – But you haven’t been to the library for ages…
me – Bingo!
I told him that we were terrible outlaws, in possession of precious books that had to be taken back right away! I pulled out of the driveway, and headed to the library.
But (there’s always a “but”) I just couldn’t do it. As ridiculous as it might seem, I just froze, right there in the driver’s seat. I found myself too ashamed of having held the novels hostage to go in and release them…
I turned to my boyfriend, and made Puss-in-Boots eyes (it was before the Shrek movies, I was so ahead of time!) and pleaded that he never went to that library, so it didn’t matter if he took the books back… Plus, they were under my name, so he wouldn’t get the judgemental looks from the clerk and the other readers, waiting in line.
He told me I was silly and that of course, he’d do it for me, and he took the forty bucks from my hand and the three novels, and walked straight to the door. (I only date very brave men! LOL) I waited in the car, my anxiety level raising with every minute he spent in the building… What the dang could take him sooo long??
My knuckles were white and I was looking around to spot any police car that could have pulled in the parking lot to come and arrest me, when he finally exited the library.
He sat, and handed me my two twenty dollar bills back. He had a weird look on his face, but it was nothing compared to what I would have looked like…
me – Oh thanks honey, but I insist on paying… It will make me feel better about all this….
him – Oh, I didn’t pay for you.
me – ???
him – You really didn’t know, did you?
me – ????
It so happens that that day was some kind of pardon day. It is held every year in public libraries in Québec (at least, back then it was) and it gave the chance for people who were a little late to take back books free of charge… (Apparently they weren’t too big on sending cops to the delinquents’ houses…)
I can only imagine the “you-are-kidding-me” look on the clerk’s face… And I was soooooo glad it wasn’t me who got it!
Needless to say, I have never returned a book late again!