You walk into the library with a guilt usually reserved for days when you’re borrowing the “Shopaholic” series.
But today, you’re not checking out any materials.
That’s because you’re the local library’s equivalent of pond scum, worse than the dust that graces the least appealing reference materials. You have overdue fees.
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When sources recently reported on President George Washington’s 220 years’ worth of late fees, it made me feel a little better about the many times I’ve evaded the library in the name of financial debt.
It’s not a pleasant feeling, but I wind up in the position often — something I attribute to my parents.
We had three library cards — mine, my brother’s and my mother’s. We’d use each card until it had its limit of late fees and then switch to the next. Eventually, when all the cards collected a maximum fine, we’d pay. And begin the cycle again.
In high school and college, library administrators had the freedom to taunt me with threats like, “No finals until you pay your $2.”
They worked. Now, the threat of public judgment is my primary incentive to pay.
While I recently used a self-service checkout at the library, a fellow library user peered over my shoulder and noticed the heavy fine that appeared on the computer screen.
He offered an exaggerated, “Dang, girl!”
I, meanwhile, was slightly humiliated — and a lot poorer.
A more awesome matter
Imagine owing $10 in overdue fees, and then having the fines erased because of a fluke computer error.
The incident is similar to the entries in Neil Pasricha’s “The Book of Awesome.” An extension of a popular website — 1,000 Awesome Things — the book focuses on feel-good things like finding money in your pocket.
The book is smiley and optimistic. Plus, it naturally screams out for a parody. It’s all too easy to write “The Book of Awful,” dedicated entirely to flat tires, stubborn vending machines and more.
But there’s something comforting about remembering the unplanned daily elements that so often dictate our moods.
One minute, you’re kicked down and dejected. The next, you’re on top of the world — just because you mastered a parallel parking maneuver.
Fortunately, for every daunting library fine, there’s a fail-safe favorite book with your fingerprints on its cover.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-571-8516.