One of the things I like most about our new place is that it's right across the street from a library. As a librarian's son and inveterate bookworm, I am especially well adapted to the library atmosphere. I drift through musty stacks like a fish grazing on coral reef algae, except my diet consists of celebrity biographies, histories of maritime warfare and Graham Greene paperbacks. Sometimes I chew on the pages for fiber.
Despite my love of libraries, I've been avoiding the SF ones for a while, because-- as you've no doubt gathered from my cool demeanor and leather jacket, not to mention lack of social niceties and irregular bathing-- I am an outlaw.
It all started back in the winter of ought-two, when I checked out some books from the Mission library near my old place on Bartlett. I had them for a while, and kept thinking "oh I should return those soon," but there was always something more important to do, like playing Grand Theft Auto or polishing my leather jacket. Then I moved in with Az., and in the process forgot all about the borrowed tomes. Imagine my horror when, some time after we'd moved into together, I discovered that I still had all these library books! By then they were so late that the library had classified them lost and billed it to my account and most likely reported me to the FBI, CIA and ALA. I returned the books in the dead of night, shoving them through the book drop and then running like hell. That was when my fugitive days began.
Last night I finally returned to the library, determined to rectify my mistakes.
I said. "I haven't been here in a while and I think I have some fines and I've lost my card."
The library guy asked for my id. When he typed my name into the computer, it made a little "beep". This is the library equivalent of alarm bells clanging and strobelights going off. His eyebrows rose.
"You owe $157.36," he said. "Apparently some books were lost."
"No no, they were late, but I returned them! I borrowed them a long time ago and forgot about them and then we just moved across the street, and when I saw I still had them I was like 'SHIT!' and then, finally I put them back in the drop slot . As I wove my tale of woe, I realized that a little girl and her mother were standing behind me in line. The mother looked at me disapprovingly. Cursing in front of small children never wins you points with their moms.
The library guy finished pecking at his computer.
"Ok, I see what happened, we moved to a new system and they were listed as returned in the new system but lost in the old. I fixed that for ya, you owe $36.30 in late fees."
With a sigh of relief, I handed him two twenties. As he gave me my change, he asked, "how could you forget to return so many books?"
I shrugged. "I just forgot."
"I see, you're like an absent minded genius, but without the genius part."
Thank you Don Rickles. I laughed half-heartedly and headed out, already planning a raid on the stacks.