Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Republicans at the book return

I suppose over the years I've run you through this a few times, but we better do it once more as this story relies upon it. At my library we have a big automated self check in machine. There is a drive-up return to it outside. An automated return door lifts up as you move books towards it and a slightly too loud and very clear voice says "Welcome to the automated book return. Please return your materials one at a time."

Most people return their materials one at a time. Only a small number of people return them in stacks. These people are very irritating. Some of my colleagues yell at them through the little door. "ONE AT A TIME. Please! One-at-a-time!"

I don't yell. I reflect, vigorously.

Yesterday someone returned their items in little stacks. I like to think of it like dollops of poop maybe, like if your dog looked you in the eye as it pooped on your beautiful new rug, moved, pooped again, all sort of staring at you. Anyway, here came the little stacks of books, which I had to then spread out in order to get them to check in and sort properly, and as I felt from this a spike of insult and irritation I thought "Are they evil? Or are they just ignorant?"

Then I thought "This is just what I've mused my whole life about Republicans!"

And as I realized this it struck me that the analogy may be even more apt than it at first would seem.

What might cause someone to return a stack of books in a place where they are asked to return them one at a time?

1. No one is going to tell them how to return their books. It's probably bullshit anyway that it makes any difference. Why would the library know more than them!

2. They're in a hurry. Their way is a little faster and it's the library's job anyway to work out any problems.

3. They didn't hear the instructions cause they were on their phone while yelling at their child and having a snack.

I think all of these would work pretty well in the Republican response to virtually any issue.

Let's randomly grab Climate Change:

1. No one is going to tell them what kind of industry they can do, or whether they can drive the car they want. It's probably bullshit that it makes any difference. Why would a bunch of "scientists" with cushy jobs know more than them anyway!

2. They've got stuff to do and Solar Power is not gonna power a chainsaw.  If the eggheads are gonna go on about Climate Change being so bad maybe it's on them to invent a battery or something to take care of the problem.

3. Yeah, they may have heard something about how there may or may not be Global Warming while yelling at their child, eating cheese-its, and looking for something to watch on T.V. 

But to bring these two strains all back together does it really matter so much if someone returns their materials in stacks on our automatic check in machine? What can really go wrong?

Well it could cause the machine to overheat, melting the polar ice caps, drowning vast coastal cities, causing catastrophic weather extremes, fires, and floods killing billions of people. It also might prevent the books from checking in properly.

But other than those, I guess these people all have a point.


  1. Where I used to work, the book drop emptied directly into...a room. Just a room, about 6 feet square, and two or three times a day someone had to go down and put the books on a cart, or carts. When people returned books while I was in this room loading a cart, it was common that people would simply drop the heavy metal cover of the book slot; sometimes it seemed that they would SLAM it. More than once, I would sort of shout "Don't slam the door!" but I don't think I was ever heard. In any case, it never got a response that I could hear.

    On the other hand, while subbing (a long time ago) at a branch that no longer exists, a branch where returned were made through a slot in the door, I once took hold of a book before the patron had dropped it, and I said "thanks." I think I scared the bejeebers out of that patron...

    1. Ha! That's funny. That was much the same system we had once upon a time here, before any machine, just a room and four slots in the wall. Mostly they emptied into rolling canvas bins for us though. Sometimes patrons do things that are pretty innocent but the mechanics of the system make them feel mean. People returning books from other systems, so acceptable by our system and rules, always feels like some sort of strange act of lazy hostility.

    2. I have a vivid memory of that book drop with the four slots. It was when I was "in training" and I checked in a whole lot of materials without doing whatever I was supposed to do to adjust a check-in date. I'd like to say that I never made that mistake again in 8 years, but I know I did--and now I don't even remember what I was supposed to do, and why. Retirement is grand!

    3. Oh, don't worry about that, we change the check-in dates all the time around here when we need to raise some extra money.

      I'm glad you like retirement. It's appeal has always been profoundly clear to me.

  2. could these "little Stacks of books" be described as "deplorable" ?


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.