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Book talk

Shit’s starting to get real. I actually worked four full days this week. Now, naturally, this would be for two different employers, hence not reaping the benefits (no, of course I”m not jealous) my coworkers have. All I know is the older I get, the more 32 hours feels like 40. I’m all like: “Yeah, I worked full-time this week.” And my daughter Cate’s like: “Wow, really? Weren’t you off Monday? I thought you did a half-day Thursday?” Whatever. It felt full time.

Couple things overheard at the library last week: Really together-looking grandma comes in with a little boy who immediately goes over to the wooden trains and starts building Penn Station. Grandma busies herself by getting to know the other children. 

“Hi, what’s your name?” perfect Grandma asks a little blonde-haired girl snuggled on a bean bag reading Amelia Bedelia.

“Skyler Poop,” she says.

L.L. Bean Grandma looks horrified and retreats over to the graphic novel area, which we all know isn’t her cup of tea.

“Ha ha. Skyler Poop. My name’s Skyler Poop,” the little girl says, clearly delighted.

I’m pretty sure these moments in the children’s room are the highlight of my library job. That and when parents say, “Go ask the librarian.” Because I’m clearly not a librarian, but I wear a shiny name tag and I put books away. 

I’ve noticed a couple of other things this week. First of all, I’m prone to talking to the books as I put them back on the shelf. Especially if I have to squeeze one in. “Oh, look here. If just one of you gets out of place it throws the whole row off.”

Another thing that happened this week is that I was learning how to process new DVDs (It’s very complicated. I couldn’t possibly explain it all here.) and somehow birthdays came up. There were three of us working together. Guess what? All Virgos. Go figure. 

I’ve often considered myself the opposite of my zodiac sign, until I realized I’m obsessed with semi-colons and talk to library books. Besides, zodiac signs are usually only important if you’re 22 and bar hopping. 

This library job is really something. Sometimes I substitute for the lady who delivers books to the one rehabilitation center (nursing home) here. I wish Mary Higgins Clark, who’s 88 by the way, or Agatha Christie herself could come along with me when I roll my suitcase full of large print books into the nursing home. Apparently all the residents have read every book Mary and Agatha have ever written.

The first time I did this I was so nervous that sweat started trickling down my back and pooling at the top of my underwear, which I felt was okay considering the people I was hanging out with. I was a little nervous when they asked me to push their wheelchairs over to the cookie table. Clearly not all of the residents are interested in reading the latest Robert Parker mystery. 

I’ve been there twice now, and I noticed that they recognized me the second time. The first time they were ready to throw me under the bus. 

“Well, I don’t like any of these books.”

“The other lady’s never early. How was I supposed to get down here at quarter of two? These people never help me.”

“You never bring anything good. Where’s the coffee?”

I just did my best to figure out how to get the breaks off the wheels and take them over to the cookies and coffee. I think they must’ve appreciated this because the last time I went, not one person asked me to push their chair and more than a half-dozen checked out books. They were happy to tell me whose work they like, and I told them I’d get to the bottom of Mary Higgins Clark and see what she’s up to these days.

It’s very gratifying, this library work. I’m trying not to think about how much I talk to the books. 


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