Monday, March 9, 2015

Once more with feeling

There he is. For four years he has checked out The Water Diet every chance he could. I personally have renewed it for him over the phone at least 15 times, either renewed it or informed him that I couldn't renew it again and that he needed to return it. So he brings it back and, two days later, he checks it out again. The Water Diet.

I know his voice instantly on the phone. Saying that he speaks with a monotone is inadequate to describe the deathly lack of inflection in his speech. His voice is emotionless. He speaks like a lobotomy victim, which, for all I know, he may be. I used to find it more disturbing than i do now. Familiarity and all that, at some point I guess I decided he is not a serial killer, just another of those everyday middle aged emotionless water diet cultists. Perfectly innocent.

Today he cannot renew The Water Diet again, and it is now overdue. I have plumbed his history and found that he has been late returning this book 22 times. Usually he is not very late and so all his many late charges on the item have only nickled and dimed their way up to a total paid of just over $17 throughout the years.

The Water Diet (not its real name). No one else wants this 25 year old book, and surely it has only survived in our collection all these years by virtue of his persistent check outs. Without him we surely would have weeded it years ago. I may have collectively spent hours of my working life just dealing with him and this book, its renewals and its fines.

Can't we just give him this book?

Can't we just give him this book!

I picture it now. He comes to the front desk with The Water Diet.

"I'd like to renew this book." He says featurelessly. A few of us merry band of co-workers gather together. This is our big moment of generosity.

"On behalf of the library, we would like to give you this book.  The Water Diet is yours!" We are all beaming.

He looks at us all expressionlessly.

"No." He says flatly. "I would just like to renew it."

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