Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week II: Solar-powered Boogaloo

I've got something of a love-hate relationship with the town library. We didn't have a library in the village where I grew up (there was something called the Bookmobile, that would come to the elementary school every other week or so, and not only could students check out books from the small bus, but everyday townsfolk could too), and in Los Angeles, it was just so much of a bloody hassle to go the libraries there (I went a couple of times, but it just made more sense to get my books at used bookstores, or buy them new and resell them when I was finished).

Lately, though, I've been grabbing as many books as I can, as well as audiobooks, and kiddie stuff for my nephew or niece. Unfortunately, they've got something called late fees, for when a book is overdue, and many of the books on CD are so in demand that, if I return an overdue one, they won't let me re-check it out. So, I keep them until I finish, and pay the fees.

But I was surprised today to get an email from them saying I owed $19.80 in late fees, and I couldn't check out or renew anything until it was paid. I'd made a trip to the library just this pass Saturday to return three books, because my late fees were over seven dollars. But I couldn't figure out how my fees could have more than doubled in three days (one of which was a Sunday, and probably should count fee-wise, right?).

My nephew likes to go to the library with me, so I brought him along, and he wanted to take a whole stack of books, but first, I told him, I had to get to the bottom of this late fees thing. I stood in the line, and the boy stood beside me, and I explained the situation and my puzzlement. The late fees are ten cents per day, so unless I checked out, what, thirty books, all overdue, the huge late fee made no sense.

The woman told me that one of the books I had returned had been damaged, a nature book about the life cycle of frogs (which I'd checked out for the three year old, not me). "Damaged?" I asked, not really getting it. "I just brought that back on Saturday." The woman told me that they'd only just noticed it was damaged, and that I had to pay for it because it was ruined from water damage.

Well, I suppose that sort of thing is possible, but I told her that if I had to pay for the book, I might as well get to have the book, and she agreed. She went to get it, and I didn't remember getting it wet or putting it anywhere it might have gotten wet, and wondered if, in the last three days, something else might have happened to it.

She brought it out, and sure enough, there were water spots on the lower third of every page. But it was a big book for kids, and it was far from ruined. "Well, I'll buy it, I guess," I grumbled, "But it's not that badly damaged, and I honestly didn't get it wet." The woman looked at me, and at the book, and decided that she agreed, and said she could waive the fee. That was a relief, and I said as much, as well as, "I can't imagine how it could have gotten water on it, since I brought it here in my car just the other day." The woman typed something, and a child's voice beside me said, "I dropped it in the sprinklers." "What?" said I. My nephew said, "The sprinkler was on and I dropped it in on accident."

Unfortunately, the woman was still sitting there, and she heard him say that too. Sigh.


Unascertained said...

At least you probably made her list of "amusing interaction with a library patron" anecdotes for the day!

The problem with water damage, especially on children's books it that it isn't always caused by water.

Your story reminds me of the woman who returned a paperback that had been dropped in the bath and was still soaking wet. She claimed that there was nothing wrong with it and that it had been like that when she borrowed it.

Big Anklevich said...

[Unascertained said: The problem with water damage, especially on children's books it that it isn't always caused by water.]