It has happened.
My library privileges have been suspended.
Every week, I take Thing 2 to the library. We read books at bedtime every night of the week, and I can only read the same book over and over and over again so many times, before Mama just needs to call it quits and day drink. So, every week, we get a stack of books that weighs as much as four kindergartners, and I lug them all home, on my back, like I’m a lumberjack who scoffs at chiropractors. Never mind the fact that I usually end up pulling a shoulder muscle and digging around the car for ibuprofen before we head home.
Who says you can’t be injured at the library?
Two weeks ago, I got an email saying that we had a book missing. It was flagged as overdue, and I was instructed to make an appearance before the library judge and pay my fine, before I received a jail sentence. I wasn’t at all worried, because I know they have TVs in jail, along with time set aside to just lay on your bunk and read a book without being interrupted, and all that actually sounded like a genuine vacation. Plus, I knew I had returned the book, so I ignored the email… ignored the fine that I shouldn’t have had in the first place, because Y’ALL HAVE THE BOOK SOMEWHERE DOWN THERE AT THAT LIBRARY, PEOPLE… and I figured the darn thing would turn up at the circulation desk. I knew they’d find the book, and then they would send me an apology email, begging my forgiveness for accusing me of basically being a street criminal with prison tats.
Only that didn’t happen.
… I got an email today explaining that I had been found negligent in the case of PUBLIC LIBRARY VS. JEDI MAMA, so they were suspending my library privileges and freezing my library card to all future transactions. I’m telling you… if the mafia ever needs help shutting someone down, they should contact the front desk of Small Town’s public library, who gets the job done. Never mind the Mob fellow and his violin case. Our public library can ruin someone with a single email.
I immediately told Hubs that my library privileges had been suspended, and that I basically felt like someone who had been put on the international NO FLY list at every airport on the globe. I had been wrongly accused of losing a library book. I had been accused of not paying $6.99 in racked up fines. I was fairly certain that my picture had been photocopied onto an 8″x10″ sheet of paper and hung up with a giant thumbtack to the library’s front door, with the words WE DO NOT LEND BOOKS TO CRIMINALS written in an enormous, bold font underneath.
Bless my heart.
Hubs looked at me and laughed out loud. And then he said, “Who even ARE you any more? You used to be so responsible, and now you can’t even be trusted by the public library system!” And then he basically informed me that this was very possibly the worst thing that could happen to a nerd, as he said, “I’ve never even had a single library fine in my entire life!”
Um… Hubs? That’s because you have to actually USE your library card in order to even incur a fine, and that would involve having some knowledge on WHERE the library is even located. Plus? You basically NEED A LIBRARY CARD, TOO, TO GET A LIBRARY FINE! How Hubs and I even managed to get together is beyond me, because I was the girl who stayed in study hall and did my homework, while he was the boy who checked in during the first twelve seconds of study hall, and then left to go downtown for a hamburger, using a bathroom pass. I was the girl who studied like crazy and spent days writing term papers; he was the boy who paid someone else to write his high school essays for him, and he paid them a bit extra to make a few grammar mistakes to make it sound legit, while he was at wrestling practice.
Clearly, the heart really does want what the heart wants.
I know that I returned this book! I’m so honest, in fact, that I once admitted to the library staff that a two-year-old Thing 2 had puked all over a book we had checked out, while I was reading it to him when he had the stomach bug. I had sopped up the vomit, wrapped the book up in a Ziplock baggie, and taken it straight to the front desk to admit, “We will buy you a new book, because I doubt you want this one back.” And the library staff informed me that it would cost me $32 (THIRTY-TWO AMERICAN DOLLARS!!!) to replace the book, with a restocking fee. I told them that I’d already checked, and that I could buy the book on Amazon for $11.99, and have it to them in two days. They informed me that their policy didn’t allow for individuals to replace books on their own, but that their policy was to have the library staff order replacement books themselves.
They failed to mention that they obviously order first-book copies, with gold-leaf lettering on their hardcovers and signed by the Queen herself.
I paid the $32. I did. Because I’m an honest sort of girl. Later, I told Hubs, “I cleaned that book up well enough that I should have just returned it. No one would ever have known that there was once chucked-up Pedialyte between pages fourteen and fifteen.”
Apparently, I now have to hold my head high in the midst of my library shame, and walk into that building this week to pay for a new book, which will cost me far more than the $6.99 they’ve currently charged me in late fees. My best guess is that when their library staff orders a replacement book for the one I didn’t actually lose, I’ll be out a fifty-dollar bill and all of my pride. Or… I can start reading books from home to Thing 2 every evening before bedtime, over and over and over again. I just worry, though, that if I choose to do that, the library will keep tacking on late fees, until my children one day inherit my estate and $54 million dollars in library debt.
I don’t see any other way to get myself readmitted to the Library Book Loaning Program, as I’ve been found guilty by the LBLP and sentenced to BANISHMENT. “Get thee from the library, and sew this scarlet B and this scarlet L onto thine garments, to indicate that thou art a BOOK LOSER!”
And y’all wonder why I have stress.