Monday, February 22, 2010

The Least I Could Do

At some point in the last week or so, my kids left a library book within reach of the dog. Yes, the same dog who compulsively chews to tiny bits any item that can actually be reduced to tiny bits. Luckily, I didn’t walk into a room to find a pile of unidentifiable shreds, but caught Brubeck in the act and rescued the book with only the bottom left corner partially removed. Or, more correctly, the bottom right corner, as it’s a Japanese manga book, written in English but published with the pages in Japanese, rather than English order.

Heavy sigh. I examined the damage, wondering if the book was salvageable. It wasn’t all that bad, I thought, and put it back on the shelf in the library corner, along with all the Time Warp Trio books for Gavin, books about Aspergers and ADHD for me and Dan, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, which Eiledon is reading for a book report, and various and sundry graphic novels, school library books and picture books.

Yesterday I got the e-mail reminder that I had books coming due. Among them was the damaged Pokemon book and I sighed again. Chances are I could return it and it would be listed as “damaged.” I saw, when I read the Simon Singh book on The Big Bang, a note in the front cover that said: “Condition Noted.” Later in the book, I found multiple instances where a previous reader had highlighted portions of the text. So in this case, I was guessing the condition would also be “noted” so that no future borrowers would be blamed for the damage.

Still, by the time I reached the Library, I knew I’d be paying for the book. It was the only honest thing to do. What bugged me about it was having to admit I allowed my kids to be so irresponsible with a library book that the dog destroyed it. Me! For whom books are sacred! Whose blood curdles when I see someone fold down the corner of a page to mark his place.

Suck it up, Moir. You blew it. Get over yourself and pay for the stinkin’ book.

I placed the other three returns on the moving belt and wandered up to the desk. When the librarian noticed me, I smiled, lamely, and told her my dog had damaged the book. She took it from me and looked at it, making a noncommittal sound as she noted the teeth marks. There was a short pause. “I think I should pay for it,” I said.

“You want to pay for it?” she said, without emotion.

“I think I ought to. It’s my fault it’s damaged.”

She seemed almost embarrassed when she replied, “Well, I suppose that would be the right thing to do.” Like she was trying to give me an out. Or waiting for me to argue. Or I don’t even know what. It was weird.

“Yes,” I said with conviction. “I’d like to pay for the book.”

She walked me through the transaction and checked out another book I had on hold. She handed me the damaged book. “In our system, we have to list it as “lost” so we can go through the process of replacing it,” she said. “So you can keep it.”

Great, I thought. I can reward my kids for destroying public property. “Thank you,” I managed, and wandered out with my new “purchase.”

Sure enough, when I told the kids about what had happened and how I’d had to pay for the book (and how they would be reimbursing me out of their allowance), Gavin immediately piped up: “What happens if Brubeck chews up the other one?”

I don’t think he was being devious. He really isn’t like that. But I was DARN quick to say, “I returned it. And this will NOT happen again.”

“Good,” said Gavin, with a smile.

Here’s hoping.

No comments:

Post a Comment