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Inspirational Reads

Let's Talk Library Etiquette

March 20, 2013

My kids changed schools this year (again).  They now attend a school which is maybe two miles from my main place of employment.  It's also a charter school, so it does not have any busing routes, which means that suddenly daddy becomes the bus driver.  Which means I totally get to smoke pot, wiggle my fingers and think about how amazing they are.  Like, mind-blowingly amazing.  Whoa.

Anyway, since radio around here sucks (the frigid, empty expanse of space holds not a candle to the vast wasteland of corporate playlists or morning- and evening-drive time deejay drivel that is foisted upon the innocent listeners of the Triangle area), my children and I have been rocking the audio books for most of the year now.  And we've all really enjoyed them.  I've introduced them to a few of my childhood favorite characters (Bunnicula) and we've found some new gems along the way (Bartimaeus. kicks. ASS!).  They say that it's supposed to be a good thing for kids to listen to audio books as a way of expanding their minds and increasing their vocabulary and blahblahblahblah.  I just know that I don't want to put a fist through the front face of my radio because Klinger has some other badass witticism to thrust upon us about how awesome ice-cold Budweiser is.  Yeah, man.

I almost punched my screen just imagining that scenario.

The only problem has been moving from one series to the next.  The aforementioned Bartimaeus trilogy was the first audio book we picked up, and it was a hit right away.  Everything else has kind of paled in comparison--mostly because the story for Bartimaeus was so awesome, and the narrator, Simon Jones, gave the titular demon a personality that popped right out of the speakers (and off the page of the book, since I bought all three of them in various paper and electronic formats).  As I mentioned, we've been through several, and some have not been as good as the others, but overall we've been pretty happy with the experience.

Currently, we're listening to the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper.  The fourth book of the series, The Grey King, was a Newbery Award winner, though I don't think that it's any better than the other books in the series.  Perhaps because it involved more questing, the second book, The Dark is Rising, was my favorite.  Overall, they've been a good listen.  On Monday morning, on the ride to school, we finished The Grey King, and so while I was out on my lunch break, I thought I would swing by the library and pick up the final book in the series.

Not so fast, my friend.

Everything was fine, initially.  I walked in the door, dropped off the finished audiobook and then went over to the section of the library where the kids audiobooks were featured.  This is where things began to go pear-shaped.

And, I mean that almost literally.

As I approached, a large, unfriendly-looking woman, festooned in steak fries dipped in ranch sauce--okay, I'm making this last part up.  She was wearing a sweatshirt.  With kittens on it.  Silhouetted.  Kittens.

I probably should have given up then.

However, I persisted because I knew where the book was that I needed, and I knew that this library had a copy of the book.  As I approached the three shelving units of audiobooks, she settled her dead, yellowish eyes on me, picked up her purse and set it on the shelf next to a stack of books she was going to check out.  The purse and the books were stacked up right in front of the book I needed.

So, I decided not to make a big deal out of it.  I would just wait my turn patiently, like a mature, calm, cool-headed adult.  And that's what I did.  I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After five minutes, she shuffled down to the next bay of audiobooks.  Before she slithered away, she looked at me, not once, but twice.  Most normal human beings would have excused themselves and asked if I needed in to the area that she was guarding.  However, ranch-infused, kitten-sweater wearing embodiments of Dolores Umbridge don't ask such nice things.  They simply look you over, dismiss you as a functioning member of society, and then dig through the audiobooks with their pudgy, beringed fingers.

So, I waited.  And waited some more.

At this point, my childhood spent being raised in the Great Lakes region was beginning to show through, and I hit this woman with some of my finest Passive-Aggressivism.  I leaned toward the books.  I folded my arms.  I paced back and forth, all the while looking at her nasty little pink purse, looking through that insult to humanity, to the place where the book was for which I so yearned.

Unfazed by a world going on around her gravity well, she continued slumping toward the third bookshelf, pawing at the titles neatly ordered there.  I continued to pace, by now having waited fifteen minutes simply to get my book.  Finally, she slouched back toward her purse and books, but then decided to have another go at the first bay of audiobooks, taking another two minutes to go through the titles before, with a heavy sigh signifying how put out she was that she had to take her stuff and go, she finally heaved that atrocity of a purse onto her shoulders, picked up the stack of books and, not without one final look at all the titles on the shelves, waddled away toward the check out area.

I stepped forward, took the book that I needed, and was gone.

Five seconds.  That's all it took.  Five.  Fucking.  Seconds.

I walked straight to the check out line, beating her by a good thirty yards.  I scanned my card, scanned the book, printed the receipt and was gone in thirty seconds.  Quick as a wink, I was out with my book.

That is, if the wink took 25 minutes.  Twenty-four and a half were spent waiting on silly Sally Kittenlover to move her prodigiously pink handbag out of the way. 

The lesson:  if someone is standing in line trying to get to the same area where your shit is stacked up, kindly ask them if they need in there.  More than likely, they will politely say yes, take what they need, and thank you up one side and down the other for your altruistic sacrifice.

Otherwise, you end up the subject of a public-shaming in the blogosphere.


Pearl said...


As bad as the people who park their supermarket carts in front of a section of shelving and stand there while you stand next to them, trying to reach something...


MJenks said...

Ugh, those people are terrible. The worst, though, are the couponers. Don't get me started on that hot mess. YOU DON'T NEED THAT MUCH MAYONNAISE!

SkylersDad said...

I don't do passive aggressive. I just do aggressive. It works better for me.

T Sweeney said...

I had a similar jousting match at the supermarket last week. A young lady thought it might be a perfectly fine idea to park her cart, then sit on the floor beside it and dig through every item on the bottom shelf, while blocking the entire aisle for anyone else that might need to pass through. This didn't happen once, or twice, but three different times. My sounds of derision and disgust got louder and more dramatic each time, but she was completely unfazed...

Scope said...

And that, dear friends, is why people just can't carry Tazers around. It would be anarchy.

And do you really want her loosing her bowels right in front of the audiobooks?

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Frank Irwin said...

I'm not that nice, anymore. I would have moved her stack, probably saying, "I'm just going to move your stack, so that I can get what I need."