It has been quite a while since I went to one. As I waited in line to buy a couple of bags (standard grocery brown ones, $4 each), the woman in front of me was trying to explain about her shattered bag, and how she wanted one to replace it. The volunteer in charge of bags was having none of it. The woman sighed, looked at her stack of books on the sidewalk, and said again quietly, ‘I can’t help it if the bag came apart. Could you just give me another?’
The volunteer, no doubt crabby from sitting in the cold wind, said, ‘I’m not in the business of giving away bags today.’
Once in the door, I saw three of four other buyers clutching their tattered bags and trying to keep their purchases from tumbling to the floor.
At the video section, I became aware of the soft moaning coming from the elderly gentleman next to me. A closer look indicated he was on oxygen. In the trenches, or rather, the table areas, squeezing between two hefty people firmly parked in their spots was necessary over and over again. People reaching from the other side of the table into the books directly in front of me was common, and no amount of staring down did any good. But it’s all typical behavior at this particular library. I emerged pretty happy.
What did I stuff into my bags? A couple of Harlan Cobens. Three Le Carres. Some Elmore Leonard. A hardback on American antiques. Two books on quilts. A bunch of VHS videos for a friend’s grandchild (A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid, some Poohs). The Dante Club. The Camel Club. The Rule of Four. Flight. In the Bleak Midwinter. A Laurie Colwin. The Killer Angels. Ashes to Ashes. More videos - The Paper Chase. Fly Away Home. Some yoga and exercise ones.
One of the bags started coming apart. It was time to go. Now in the bleak midwinter, I will not run out of reading matter.