Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Library patrons we have known, loved, or tolerated

Mrs. R was a devout Christian who checked out all the Chanukah books and kept renewing them to keep the public from being depraved by reading about the Festival of Lights. She really thought her scheme had a chance--after all, she had prayed for the library to be closed on Sunday, and lo and behold, it happened! (Budget considerations had nothing to do with it, of course.)

By a combination of pleading and threatening, we finally got the Chanukah books returned. Amazingly, none of the other library patrons converted to Judaism, even after reading about Chanukah. So that crisis was averted.

However, she continued to take books out, but not to return them. We sent the requisite first notice, second notice, threatening letter, etc., but no soap. So Michael, the nicest person in the library, called her house and asked to speak to her. When he asked her to please bring the books back as a personal favor to him, he heard Mr R thundering in the background, demanding to know who it was, what they wanted, and why she was such a big damn fool. She was terrified that we had called.

The two of them used to come into the library from time to time. She was a tense, red-faced woman, shaped like a dumpling, with thin curly grey hair standing out all over her head. He was a grouchy, red-faced loudmouth Santa Claus lookalike, without the jolliness. It was clear that she was intimidated by him; she scurried around like a frightened rabbit.

Because of the situation, we cut her a lot of slack. But he always seemed to cotton on when she had done something wrong, and shouted at her. It was most unpleasant to watch.

Mr R died unexpectedly. Shortly thereafter, she called to renew or request a book, and started crying over the phone, she missed him so much, he was such a wonderful man, they had a great marriage, and she was inconsolable.

Go figure.

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