In these complicated times, one has to find ways to be entertained. As always, the easiest way to do that is to engage in people watching.
First off, a few caveats. You need to visit a library that is closed, but is allowing curbside pickup.
Secondly, the library needs to be in lockdown when they are not open. If you can drop off books like you are mailing a letter; well where is the challenge? My entertainment demands that bit of inconvenience on others’ part.
At my library, there used tp be four ways to return materials. You could walk in and simply the books and DVDs to the librarian. Sooo 1960’s. Who does that anymore? Or you could enter the lobby, go to the automated return, and place your books on the treadmill. The bathrooms are right there. Two for one!
With the inside of the libraries being off-limits these days, that leaves us with the last two options. There are two automated returns. You push the button, the hatch opens, and you place the books on the treadmill. The computer checks in, everybody is happy.
Except, no. That option has been disabled. The door will not open. No love there.
That leaves the manual door. Again, like a mailbox, it swings open toward you. The big brick wall sticks its metal tongue out at you and you respond by shoving piles of things down its throat. It is civilized, you can drop things off at any hour, and all is well in the kingdom of books.
Except no. When the library is not open, the hatch is forced shut. You can go all Hercules on it, but that wall is allowing no access. A literal, figurative, actual brick wall keeps you from returning materials. Items can only be returned when the library is open.
This brings us to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The library is closed Sundays, Mondays, and holidays in the Covid era. I had some internet fun to engage in, so I did not mind. The other folks, well, they were less successful. It made for some interesting anthropology.
The Different Types of People Failing to Return Books
–The “Okay, Fine” Group. These people simply accept the reality as it is presented to them. They walk up, tug on the hatch, and find that it is closed. They get it. Five seconds later, they are back in their car. Ten seconds later, they are off to their next errand. Que sera, sera.
–The Investigators Group. These folks put a little more effort into their attempts. They pull on the hatch. Then they tug. And they tug again. They look back and forth for some sort of explanation. Perhaps they believe they can find help or can ask staff what is going on. Half a minute is spent searching for an alternative. I imagine scientists being in this group. Finding no other recourse, they yield to the variables and results.
–The Tenacious Group. They try. These are the people that retook their SAT tests. The dig-deep, “I can do it coach, put me in!” kids. Folks that go back to get their Masters after raising three kids and working full time all the while. They tug on the hatch. They tug harder. They walk to the automated machines. They see the signs on the machines. They push the button. They push the button again. They walk over to the locked doors and read every single sign on the windows. They pull on the doors. (Again, this is on a national holiday. C’mon.) Then they return to the hatch for one last attempt before slumping back to their cars in defeat.
–The Type You Shouldn’t Leave Your Children With. Some folks take it a bit too far. They walk up with purpose. They do everything the Tenacious G does. And then some. They have been told that life is like Arthurian Lore. They know that if they keep tugging on that hatch, success will be theirs. They merely need to grit their teeth, act with full conviction and undeterred spirit, and the Excaliburs in their life will come to them. They will rule and prevail if they only keep at it. They yank mightily on the hatch. They pull and pull and yank and shake the door handles. They curse. The punch. They ask what they have done to be dealt this cruel blow to their existence. Finally, like everybody else, they go off to slay other, less obstinate dragons. Perhaps ones with minty fresh breath and scales that are not so rough when you brush against them.
We are all trying to get through this in our own ways. Mine is to read and watch movies until the day is done. Others wage war against library depositories. Some take life as it comes. Others are ready for battle. We each do our best to get through this crazy world.
If you cannot find an open library to derive stimulation from, find some real life to observe wherever you can. (Sitcoms were right about one thing; the kitchen is a place that presents many comedic opportunities.) The people face their struggles in different ways. No matter how the scene plays out, the results are always fascinating.