Monday, June 1, 2009

Library Gnome

By the time he got to the second mauling of my name I was standing directly in front of the large desk separating the hobbit with the microphone and myself. He slowly switched off the mic, slid it to his left out of sight using two fingers, clasped his hands and looked up at me.
"Hi there," I intoned flatly.
"Hello, are you Meg Scootle?"
"No, I'm Meg Schudel," carefully enunciating the relatively simple sounds, shoe-dull. "Am I in trouble?"
"I'm not sure, are you aware that you put an empty CD case in the drop box?," he asked and opened the CD case for "Avenue Q" to prove that this was not an allegedly missing CD, this was true crime.
"Oh, whoops! Sorry about that, I actually know exactly..."
"If I had noticed this after your leaving, it would have been a twenty-minute procedure to renew the item, call you up, and process the empty CD case. I renewed the item for you but we will need it back sooner or later."
"Oh, well like I said, I'm sorry. Are the rest of them..."
"The rest are fine," he interrupted again. "Where's this particular, CD? If you don't know where it is or if it is lost, I need to know so I can..."
"It's in the car." It was my turn to interrupt him.
"Would it be too much to ask that you go get it?," he asked.
I pondered for a moment, where had I parked? Ah yes, hell and gone in the parking lot to allow the breeders and the aged to park closer. "No, I will not fetch the CD." I answered. I took the CD case out of his hands, careful not to snatch, but the loud snap as I closed it gave away my irritation.
I thanked him for renewing the item and returned to the DVD section. I had only just begun browsing them when the same man from the desk announced closing time. I decided that I'd been delinquent enough for one day and promptly queued up behind three moms with whiny kids. I didn't mind the kids at all. It was 5:30 and I wanted to whine too; I'm sure it was all our dinner times.
I bounced on my feet impatiently in line. The little man leaned to the left in his seat. I accidentally made eye contact with him and he waved without smiling. I waved back having no idea what was going on. He kept his hand up, turned it into a pointing hand and jabbed it toward the electronic book-checker-outer monstrosity librarians are always pushing on you.
I wasn't in the mood for this. There were two other patrons he could have instructed to use the book-scanning monsters, but he'd singled me out. I wasn't having it, so I decided to have a little fun with him. I raised my eyebrows pointed to the machine and looked back at him. He gave one curt nod. I nodded back enthusiastically without budging one inch out of line. He furrowed his eyebrows at me clearly thinking me barmy. He turned his attention back to patron number one, and handed her a receipt. Patron number two stepped up, the librarian leaned to the left again, scowling at me. I purposely made eye contact with him this time. He momentarily widened his eyes at me as if to say "yes, YOU," then jerked his head motioning to me to go to the machine while his hands busily scanned books. I looked at the machine then back at him and nodded vigorously again, smiling. He shook his head and finished with patron number two. By the time he got to me he was seething, the lights started to go out around the library, leaving a sort of weird spotlight on the front desk.
"Hi there!" crowed and beamed a smile at him.
"PLEASE do not speak in loud tones in this facility!" he hissed.
I slowly turned to see just exactly how many people I might be disturbing with my uncivilized volume only to be met with the darkened library. We were the only ones left in the building as far as I could tell. I slowly turned back to face him and returned the look he'd given me only a moment ago that clearly said, "I'm more than a little sure you're mentally unsound."
He scanned my items and informed me that I had late fees. I assured him he was wrong. I've not had a late item in the year and a half I'd been frequenting San Diego's libraries. He reiterated that yes, my DVDs were late. All five of them, $2 each. I told him they weren't, that I'd checked them out exactly one week ago from that day.
"One week and one hour ago, you mean. Technically, they're late." He said this as he held my new items captive.
I was aghast that this man's size was clearly a reflection of his character; small. I glared at him, extracted a $10 bill from my wallet and slid it across the marble counter to him. He relinquished my items and I snatched them from his hand, hugging them to my chest, still glaring.
"I hope my donation can do some good for the library," I said, rejecting the term "fees." To myself I muttered, "Perhaps it can go toward paying for the machines that were necessitated by the need to replace librarians like yourself."
Oh well, it was worth $10 just to antagonize the mean little gnome* that afternoon. I'm actually looking forward to visiting him this week; if he's going to charge me $10 for the pleasure of his company, I want my money's worth.

*Note, he was not a real little person or anything, I'm cranky but not a total jerk. He had a smallish build, a scrunched up face designed for getting his grump on, and a sparse little beard with bald patches in it; he reminded me of Rumpelstiltskin.


Anonymous said...

LOL X 10.
Freaking awesome.
Now I'm gonna go look up the word "barmy." I'm pretty sure I don't know what it means.

Lindsey said...

love it. very enjoyable on a tuesday night. keep 'em coming.

Ashley said...

Oh, Meg, you're truly a gem! :)

Benjamin said...


Instead of responding honestly to "Where is the CD (etc.)," you should have said: "OH! I tried to trick you! I just CAAAAN'T get enough of it!" Then busted into an amateur rendition of The Internet is for Porn.