Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The doorbell coincidence

One thing I have always loved about library work is the coincidences. I understand that when the vast number of names, famous stories and people, songs, books, and movies all come up together as they do in library work, they are statistically bound to appear magical when they weirdly synchronize. You know the story: Monkeys on typewriters writing Hamlet. But the story that says enough monkeys typing long enough on enough typewriters will produce Hamlet by sheer volume of randomness is a bit extreme. It would take surely billions of monkeys billions of hours with billions of people scanning the endless random pages.

But what if your job was monitoring the work of a hundred monkeys randomly typing all day on a hundred typewriters. There would be nothing but gobbledygook for days, maybe a few coincidental short words from out of nowhere. Maybe rarely there would even be one longer word, or half a sentence. And then one afternoon you suddenly see among the long readouts of nonsense:

"GOto the pond at 2oclock!!."


Sure, it was bound to happen.

But there just happens to be a pond near where you work.

Don't you think you'd better go there, at two?

And what if those monkeys typed "There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

I mean, that's hardly any of Hamlet. But it's still not the worst time to believe in magic and little gods.

As Shakespeare said:

Don't waste your time believing in the big gods and impossible things,
The little gods are easier, demand less, and take your breath away with more sweetness and danger.

Well he would've said it if he typed randomly on a typewriter for long enough!

Which is all to say I had my tiny burst of coincidence magic today at the library. Actually I had a few coincidences, and this was my favorite one:

Our curbside pickup doorbell, that non phone owning patrons use to alert us to their arrival, got turned off or reset so I needed to fix it. Not finding the Scarborough Fair doorbell song we were using I programmed in something else, not at the time sure what song it was. Then someone rang the doorbell. It was a Christmas song: We Wish You a Merry Christmas. My co-worker, who hates out of season Christmas music, was nearby, so I said "Oops. I didn't realize it was a Christmas song. I'll change it as soon as I come back."

And then I went out into the July heat to help the patron who rang our doorbell.

It was Santa.

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