Yesterday I stopped by the library on my way home from work to pick up a book. My
least favorite librarian, Rita the Regulator, was manning the check out desk. I’d actually surmised that before I set foot in the library, when I called from across town to see if they would be able to use my license rather than my library card.
This is how she answered the phone: “This is the Z- Branch of the District of Columbia Library. This is Ms. X- speaking. Go ahead.”
Um: Go ahead? Are we on walkie-talkies?
Anyway, fifteen minutes later I was in line, waiting to check out a book. Rita was informing the young woman in front of me that she had two fines she’d need to pay before she could borrow another book.
“If you’re going to pay cash, you’ll need to go to the main library – the Martin Luther King branch. Or if you’re going to pay here you’ll need to bring in a certified check or money order. Or you can go online if you’d like to use a credit card.”
The woman looked stupefied. “Well, how much is the fine?” she asked.
“Ten dollars,” Rosie told her. “Five for each item.”
The woman paused, looking thoughtful, then asked, “Will you accept canned goods?”
SERIOUSLY? I think you’ve gotten your wires crossed, ma’am. This is not a high school dance, a pub crawl or an office holiday party. Where else do cans constitute currency unless you’re ten years old?
To Rosie’s credit, she didn’t berate the woman. In fact, her literal interpretation of the world must not leave any room for humor, because she simply said, “No. I’m sorry. We cannot accept cans.”
Good to know.