Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Free Library, but limited resources within

Tension and expectation steals oxygen from the air and it feels hard to breathe. The Library opens in 30 seconds. The wall of people moves in tighter and tighter against the barricade doors. They adjust their packs and belongings tight to their bodies so as not to inhibit their movements. Eyes forward. No one wants to look at anyone else. Even that barest dash of human recognition, that possible grain of sympathy, could shave their competitive edge and soften their will to victory.

The space between people compresses, disappears. An eerie hush fall.

Please don't let there be another trampling today. That is all we ask.

The crowd as a whole breathes in like a single entity, both to allow the great Library doors to be rolled open, and to gather the last loose scraps of energy into itself.

The doors are rolled open.

Be strong of foot, but bear disappointment well. There can be but one victor today.

They seem to unwind in slow motion, but as they emerge into open space and arrange their free movement the race sorts out, and the speed quickly rises. Some unspoken code keeps them speed walking, but then someone hitches into a trot. The group tenses like it might burst into a run. And so they reach the stairs.

Run not in the Library. Keep your feet. Please, above all keep your feet!

The trotter subsides back to a walk as they hit the stairs. Pounding up them separates the strong from the weak. The belongings for a full day, strapped to bodies and in over sized packs work loose and drop down arms. Someone misses a step and touches down. They use their hands to propel themselves on. The race is not over yet!

The left turns are before you. Lean, lean your body. All you have worked for hangs in the balance now.

Three in the group have now bowed out, fallen behind on stairs and turns. All that is left is one straight run through the genre section. The group is so near that they surge. It is not running, it is surging. Arms and legs fly. There is a swirl of bodies, bags burst open and fly aside and then,

Quiet. Quiet. It is over.

One person, and one person alone, has claimed the comfy chair. The comfy chair is taken. The race is over. The winner will keep claim on the chair for all the 11 hours we are open. The losers filter off humbly, but not without hope. There are other chairs, for today, and for tomorrow? Who know, perhaps the comfy chair will be theirs!

1 comment:

  1. So far as I can tell, the library where I work doesn't have anything that would qualify as a "comfy chair." Perhaps that is why our openings seem free of anything like the drama you describe. Our loss.


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