So in my never ending quest to point out the absurdities of every day life, I present to you The Library Incident
The other night as I was browsing at my local branch of the public library I laid witness to a confrontation I simply couldn't help but be drawn into. Some quick background for those that aren't familiar with public libraries. Nearly everything is FREE to check out (books, periodicals, CD's, DVD’s etc) with a small penalty or late fee if they are returned after the due date. For example, books are $.10 a day late. In most cases, if you need more time, a simple renewal phone call or, if you have a computer, a click on the website will extend your time with the FREE book/DVD/CD loan. Did I mention FREE? OK, good. Back to the story.
So, as I'm browsing away I notice the very nice, friendly, and patient man working the desk where you check out your materials having an exasperated conversation with a customer looking to borrow 2 DVD's. I'm paraphrasing to a point but this is how the convo went (please note, the customer appeared to speak English as a 2nd language so I am taking this into account):
Library Guy (LG): Looks like you owe us some money
DVD Guy (DG): Are you sure?
LG: Yes, $5.30 for 2 DVD's 3 /12 weeks over due
DG: I didn't know there were late fees
LG: It is clearly defined all over the library not to mention the receipt we give you says when they were due
DG: I was too busy to get here during your hours. My job keeps me very busy
LG: I understand but we are open until 8:00 2 nights a week and have a 24 hour drop box
DG: I will pay you next time
LG: Sorry, I can't lend you any materials as you balance is $5.00 or more. If you want to pay just $.35 you will be below $5.00 and can borrow these DVD's
LG: So, do you want to pay $.35?
LG: I'm sorry, those are the rules for the entire library system. There's nothing I can do
DG: But I didn't know
LG: All we need is $.35
(We now have an uncomfortable minute long "Mexican standoff" (not my terminology) reminiscent of the famous scene in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
LG: I'm sorry sir, that's all I can do. Other people are waiting. Do you want to pay $.35 or not
(He pulls out, and I shit you not, a Platinum Card)
LG: I have to charge at least $1 on a card.
(DG puts the card away, puts the DVD's down and leaves)
So, I will not ever know how much money someone has or doesn't have. I will not claim to know someone's intelligence level or mastery of the local language. However, I do know this; how the hell do you leave the house with not even $.35 in your pocket? I mean, a quarter and a dime? How can you not understand that the library is lending you everything for FREE and changing you $5.30 for what was essentially 2 movies you had for 5 1/2 weeks? Hey, want unlimited time with your movies? Get freaking Netflix!!! I know a lot of people are spastic plastic type and rely solely on credit cards (even some of my friends) but c'mon, THIRTY FIVE CENTS!! And, if you're going to pull out your card, PAY THE WHOLE THING!!
Something tells me this is indicative of where we're heading. Everyone wants something for nothing and then, when time comes to actually have to pay for something, they get all upset. I felt like grabbing the guy by his collar and shaking him. As someone who deals with stuff like this all the time I shared a knowing, disapproving, shake of my head with the library guy as if to say "I know, I feel your pain"