Thursday, March 13, 2014

Careful where you work

Once, many years ago, my wife and I were spending several days in the strange, lovely confection know as Disney World. We were at a souvenir kiosk in the Wilderness Lodge Hotel buying things related to Winnie the Pooh. The kiosk operator, friendly enough in our dealings, groaned and said something roughly like "Only 45 more minutes and I can go home."

It was like being stabbed in my very tender, disneyfied heart, which cried out deep inside of me "But, but, this is supposed to be the happiest place on earth!"

I count myself fortunate that I do not work at a place that goes by aphorisms of happiness such as that. I am capable of feeling happiness only occasionally, and only when under no compulsion. I work at a library and deal in information, not happiness. I can be informative practically around the clock. "No," I can say "You do not mean Harold Pinter, you mean Thomas Pynchon. Wineland is actually Vineland, and we do have a copy on the shelf." Unlike happiness, this sort of thing comes naturally to me. We also deal in finding things at the library, which I find sort of fun, and in putting things places where they can be found in the future, which is boring, but at least you don't have to be happy while you do it, and you can do it at a very, very, very thoughtful pace.

Of course, a library, like Disney World, is also a place of entertainment. We are also putting on a show here, and playing parts, and creating a world of our own. We are Main Street and Adventure Land and Tomorrow Land too. But even in that guise I like to think of our show as less Disney, and more as a Wes Anderson movie.

"This is my first time here."  The patron says.

"Really?" I reply. "I've lived here for years! I sleep downstairs in the bowling alley."

"You have a bowling alley?"

"Absolutely. Most libraries do. The librarians have to blow off steam somehow."

"Is this the truth?"

"No." I say. "All lies." 

We deal in lies too. And if disillusioning to our patrons, well, we're big here on providing disillusionment as well. A library, after all, is all about illusion in careful moderation.


  1. I rather like that retaking of the word disillusionment, but then your blog disillusions me often, and all for the better.

    1. I am sorry for taking over a year and a half to respond to your very kind comment Anonymous. I have been for a long while on a strict rule of responding to all comments, but there was a period for awhile where that rule didn't exist and I still (incredibly rarely- this may be the last!) find orphaned comments such as yours.

      So, thank you, first of all. One thing I really like about words is that they seem very eager to please.


If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.