When you drive up to our billion dollar automated return machine, its automated voice issues forth with only one instruction. This is because the machine, which, again, cost a billion dollars, is so advanced that it has only one limitation. Just one limitation, as long as you don't count the following, which we are totally not counting:
1. It is terrible at processing skinny books of any kind, which is not a problem because only children's books are skinny, and practically no one checks out children's books, especially not huge stacks of them.
2. The rollers eat and jam on any book not in pristine condition, which is also not a problem since, as a library, we are so awash in money that we replace all our materials after just two or three uses.
3. Eleven or twelve other little things that are too technical to describe here, and, if I'm not going to describe them, I am hardly justified in counting them.
Which leaves us with the machine's one limitation and one instruction:
"Please return your books one at a time." Says the machine's basso profundo voice. I think it's the same voice that does the ketchup advisory board commercials on Prairie Home Companion. Labor as the machine might, it cannot handle items in stacks. Oh, it tries. It sends them up a little hill in a valiant attempt to fan them out, but they still tend to glom together, and, without an opposable thumb, our poor machine is helpless to separate them. Unseparated they are impossible for the machine to check in or to sort properly.
Fortunately, all our patrons heed the machine's one instruction, as long as you don't count the following exceptions, which we are totally not counting:
1. The deaf, who can hardly be faulted for our refusal to have braille announcements.
2. People who are too busy yelling at each other in their car to hear the instruction, who totally get a pass due to our thanks to them for not actually coming into the library.
3. People seeking revenge on us due to various fine grievances, who we dare not count on the list of malfeasance, lest they use their momentous powers of vengeance on this blog.
4. People simply not paying attention, who it would be pointless to count since they will undoubtedly be dead soon in a horrible traffic accident.
And what does that leave us with?