I just failed to check out a book for the fourth time. As it turns out, the Chicago Library system (or at least the West Town branch) is not quite up to par with any other libraries I have ever patronized (Grand Rapids library: great; Holland library: fantastic; Wilsonville library: amazing [my mom works there! LUV U MOM!]). All I want to do is read the new Oliver Sacks book that I put on hold over a month ago. I just got back from my fourth failed attempt to simply check out my book.
How do you fail to check out a book four times, you ask? Well, let me break it down for you.
I went in and grabbed the book from the hold shelf, took it to the counter and handed my card to the librarian (who gave me a look that said, "I don't like my job, and I don't like people, and I don't like you)".
Librarian: You can't check this out, you have a $2.40 fine on an overdue book.
Dan: Oh, can I check out the book if I pay the fine?
Dan: (takes a twenty out of wallet) Here you go.
Dan: Excuse me?
(I should add that the manner and tone of the librarian is quite abrupt and rude.) At this point I am speechless and simply stare blankly at the Librarian. She sighs deeply and with great annoyance walks over to the cash register, opens the drawer, ruffles around paper money, sighs again, and walks back to me.
Dan: Do you mean that you can't change a twenty?
(I assumed that "no" meant "yes")
We stare at each other for a good ten seconds, like it was an uncomfortable game of chicken (come to think of it, chicken is rarely a game of great comfort). Then, seeing that she was a great immovable curmudgeon, I walk away more perplexed than annoyed.
Remember when the librarian #2 took my library card during attempt #1? Well, she neglected to give it back. Thus, when I went in the following day (with exact change mind you), I was surprised to find no card in my wallet. I asked the librarian if I may have left it there. She opened a drawer and moved some post-it note pads around. "No." I left again, thinking I must've taken it out of my wallet at home to put the newest David Sedaris book on hold.
I walk up to the librarian #2 - who looks put out and irritated by the stack of books on the counter (note: if books irritate you unreasonably, maybe librarian shouldn't be your profession of choice) - and I announce that either I left my card there or lost it and needed a new one. She looks around a bit and finds my card. I am about to let out a "huzzah" when she informs me that they immediately expire cards that are left behind and my card is no good.
Dan: Fine, can I please get a new card?
Librarian: You need something with your name and address on it. Do you have anything?
Librarian: Then you can't get a card.
Dan: Can I at least pay my late fees and renew the over-due book?
Librarian: We can't do that without a card.
I resort back to my tactic of an uncomfortable chicken-style stare-off. But this time I prevail! She temporarily un-expires my card to let me pay the fines and renew the books, but I can not check out the Oliver Sacks book and she expires the card again. I will try again tomorrow.
This is my last chance. My hold on the book expires today. I walk in the door, driver's license and apartment rental lease in hand. By this point the librarian recognizes me.
Librarian: Are you here for a new card?
Dan: Yes. Here is my ID and lease.
Librarian: I can't use this, it needs to be a post-marked piece of mail.
Dan: But this is what I used to get my card originally! (Which is true.)
Librarian: Well, then you shouldn't have got it.
At this point I am beyond annoyed and simply walk away from the desk. "Effing ridiculous" I mutter as I walk away, dejected and pitiful. (Except I didn't say "effing")
And thus concludes the sad tale of my misadventures with the West Town branch of the Chicago Public Library. Oliver Sacks has been put back into circulation and I will have to restart at the bottom of the hold list (unless one of my dearly beloved readers would like to buy me the book as a late Christmas present). I will try again on Monday and, so help me God, I will get that library card or die trying.