It was a day like all the rest. I sat at the front desk of my library and gazed longingly out the window awaiting entertainment that rarely arrived. Then you happened. You rolled up on your bike and skidded to a halt in front of the library’s entrance, all but leaving marks on the sidewalk. I had seen you before. I was familiar with your type of extortion. You would not fool me again.
But you claimed it was an emergency. You needed the library’s phone to call your mom. She was supposed to have picked you up by now. You were in a frenzied panic. Had she forgotten you? Did she no longer love you? Your mind was racing with possibilities and with each one considered, I could see the panic in your eyes increase exponentially. You couldn’t possibly ride your bike all the way to your Aunt’s house! You needed someone to drive you. That someone was supposed to be your mother. But where was she? You needed access to a phone, and you needed it right now.
I knew full well that if I granted you permission, I may miss a phone call. A patron may need to renew their books. What if someone needed to waste my time by asking me a question that could easily be found on our webpage? I needed to keep the line clear for that nonsense. But you gave me those big, brown, puppy dog eyes. Was it my imagination, or did they water, if only slightly? How could I refuse the look of desperation on your infant-like face? I could never forgive myself if your mother abandoned you here.
So, I allowed it. I gave a slight nod and turned the phone toward you. I let you use the library’s phone against my better judgement. I looked back to my work computer, anticipating your conversation. I tossed aside common courtesy and decided to eavesdrop. After all, I had been looking for a source of entertainment.
The phone rang a few times before your mother answered. You told her where you were and asked when she would be coming to pick you up. I thought the phone call would end there. You had accomplished all you had set out to do. But you continued.
“Mom. I basically lost a dollar.” You said this as if I hadn’t just received a bill for college tuition. It was cute. You resumed your story with, “I rode my bike to the gas station and bought a Slim Jim and a 3 Musketeers bar. When I got to the laundromat, the 3 Musketeers bar was gone. There are no holes in my backpack, I already checked. Someone must have pick pocketed me! So what should I do?”
Had I been the woman on the other end of the phone, I would have responded with something akin to “Find new parents” or “Pick a direction and ride your bike as fast and as far as you can. You are no child of mine.” However, I can only imagine the uplifting words of encouragement that would only continue to foster your dependency.
Throughout the remainder of the phone call, my innocent curiosity had transformed into the kind of silent rage only a librarian is capable of manifesting. How could you betray me like this? I had several lectures for you, yet I knew you would receive none of them. Also, as your friendly local librarian, it was not my place.
If you ever read this, darling boy, stop monopolizing our phone. We need that. Conducting library business is more important than you having a five minute conversation about how you lost your 3 Musketeers bar. You weren’t pick-pocketed at the laundromat. Who has the time to stop shoving quarters into the washer’s coin receptacle just to unzip a child’s backpack and steal their candy bar?
Oh, and don’t park your bike so close to the door. People keep hitting it and I’m silently pleading with everyone who walks by to take off with it. Or slash its tires, at the very least.
Next time you ask to use my phone, I may just grab you by the collar and shush as hard as I can.
Au revoir, you thorn in my side.