Monday, July 20, 2009
I Had To Destroy The Moral High Ground In Order To Save It. (I Fought The Library... The Epilogue.)
It's been a while since I mentioned my epic battle with the library, a while that can be explained by the fact that I thought perhaps things were over.
Let me get everyone up to speed: I took a bunch of DVDs out of the library. I then returned all the DVDs to the library. The library then said that I hadn't returned some DVDs and tried to charge me. I then convinced the library not to charge me by using their own rules agains them. The library agreed not to charge me for those DVDs, only to turn around and say that I'd lost a different DVD, "Baby Galileo," that they were going to charge me $19 for.
That's where I Fought The Library left off. And that's where it was going to stand, too, because there was no way I was going to pay for these new DVDs the library claimed I hadn't returned. Baby Galileo? I returned that. Forget it. I opted, at that point, to go with Plan... whatever plan I was on, probably Plan X by that point.
Plan X was the same plan I'd used previously on the library, back when the library claimed that I hadn't returned a Paul Simon CD and tried to charge me $10, and because I'd returned the CD, I wasn't going to pay the ten bucks, so I opted instead to use Sweetie's library card to take stuff out; I just went to the library, got my books and CDs and DVDs, and then went to the auto-check-out and scanned the card and then the books.
That plan had worked for a long time, until I'd gotten overdue books on Sweetie's card and she'd refused to let me use it, so I'd had to suck it up and pay the ten bucks after all, even though I'd returned the CD!
So this time, I was not going to pay the cost of the Baby Galileo DVD because I had returned that. Instead, I went to Plan X again and got Sweetie's library card and put it in my wallet so that whenever I went to the library I could just use her card and check them out.
What I hadn't counted on, this time, was that I now check things out of the library by first requesting them online, so that the library will do all the work for me and go get the books off the shelf and put them in a holding area, reserving them for me and me only. I do that because it's a lot easier to browse online for what I want, and then to cruise in there with the Babies! and grab my books instead of trying to roam through the stacks with a couple of nearly-three-year-olds who might, at any point, decide to make a break for it and end up with me chasing them around the Encyclopedia Brittanicas while people in the cubicles nearby act all annoyed, as though they didn't secretly think my kids are super-cute and didn't secretly welcome the respite from whatever weird Marxist literature they're reading.
(I don't get people who read in the library, or people who study in the library, and I always assume that people who read or study in the library are closet Marxists, reading old dusty copies of Das Kapital or, worse, deconstructionist essays comparing Das Kapital to Alice In Wonderland and contrasting both with economic feasibility studies of Cuban health care.)
Anyway, rather than bother the Marxists with my Babies!, and rather than try to rush through browsing for a book in the library -- when I rush I always regret it; I always end up with some crummy Dean Koontz book -- I opted to reserve my books online and then just breeze in and get them with no waiting and no hassle.
Except that when I reserve a book under my name, I can't check it out with Sweetie's library card, something I didn't know about until the first time I went in to try to do that, to try to check out a book I'd reserved but using Sweetie's card, and got told by the librarian there that I couldn't do that.
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because it's not reserved under her name, it's reserved under yours," she said.
"But we're married," I said.
"I'm sorry," she said.
I really wanted that book. So I very reluctantly took out my card and handed it to her and hoped that maybe the system would have forgotten all about the Baby Galileo DVD the library still claimed I hadn't returned. Only, no such luck.
"You have a hold on your account," the librarian told me.
I was already pulling a twenty out of my wallet. "Yeah, I know," I said, and paid the $19 for the Baby Galileo DVD that I didn't lose, and then checked out my reserved books (which, to skip ahead a bit, weren't even all that good, and certainly weren't worth $19, and I also could've probably gone to Barnes & Noble and bought them for less than $19, and maintained the moral high ground here...and, no, I don't really know why that would be maintaining the moral high ground but I'm certain that I would be maintaining the moral high ground by not paying the $19...)
And that was where I Fought The Library ended. I'd caved in and paid them their $19 and given up on Plan X, all to check out some not-so-great books, and I'd lost the moral high ground.
But I had my revenge, anyway, because, remember, I'd said that I was going to be a good guy and become a "Friend of the Library," taking the money they'd wanted as a fine and instead joining up to become a Library Friend. Well, let me tell you: I scrapped that, the moment the library made me fork over the $19 for the Baby Galileo DVD. I walked out of the library that day and I vowed, as I did, this oath:
I will NEVER be a "friend of the library."
So that'll show them: They can extort $19 out of me, but in doing so... well, the library lost a friend. And a good friend, at that: Just ask any of my other friends. I'm a good friend. Or, if not a good friend, I'm at least dependable. Mostly.
Well, I'm interesting, anyway. So I'm not a good or dependable friend. I'm at least interesting, and the library lost out on that. The library, on that day, lost out on an interesting friend.
And that, finally, was the end of the library story.
Or so I thought.
Because later, not long ago, Sweetie and I were heading out on some errands and one of the errands was to stop by Best Buy and pick up a videogame for our nephew. (It was this set of errands.) I'd forgotten my Best Buy credit card and Sweetie dispatched me to go get it, so I ran back up to our bedroom and opened my little dresser drawer, the one where I put all the important things that I don't want to forget about, including credit cards.
Only it wasn't there, where I was certain I'd left it. The Best Buy credit card wasn't in the Important Things drawer, and I knew for sure it was there, so I opened the drawer more and began pulling stuff out of it, stuff like old cell phone receipts and a set of keys that I'm not sure what they're for and postcards people have sent me that I wanted to frame and a magazine that I was saving for something or other, and then...
...I pulled out the Baby Galileo DVD, in its original case.
I pulled it out from my Drawer Of Things That Are Not To Be Forgotten, where I'd no doubt put it in order that it Not Be Forgotten.
In the end, I had to make another trip to the library, to return the Baby Galileo DVD that I thought I'd returned, and arrange to have the library pay me back the $18 -- they keep a buck, for no apparent reason -- that they said they'd issue a check for, in 6 weeks or so ("The city does it, and it takes them a while," the librarian explained), all the while hoping that the librarian I was talking to was not the librarian to whom I'd repeatedly insisted, via email, that I'd returned the DVD (but I was pretty sure it was the same one.)
And that, at last, is the end of the story. The DVD is back, I'll get my money back, and the Best Buy credit card was in my wallet all along.
Behind my library card. And I don't even care if that's ironic anymore. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I give up. The whole thing is ironic, for all I know.
There's just one thing that I'm certain of, in the end: I have, I am convinced, retained the moral high ground in this entire episode. I don't know how, but I have.