You may remember last week that Mr. and Mrs. Swellesley had hit a patch of domestic discordancy. One half of the team that brings you “more than you really want to know about Wellesley, Massachusetts” (and now more that you really want to know about us as a couple) had mistakenly dropped off 3 Wellesley Free Library books at the Recycling and Disposal Facility books area (see “Mr Swellesley leaves library books at Wellesley RDF; Mrs. Swellesley mad as all get-out”). I pleaded to the Swellesley readership to help us return books to the library and harmony to the marriage.
The call was answered, but first came the other call. The call I feared. I received an email from no less an august personage than Wellesley Free Library Director, Jamie Jurgensen. Uh oh, I’m in for it now, I thought. I wonder if there’s a ceremony for stripping a patron of library privileges? Does Madam Director wish to summons me to my excommunication? I hope she at least turns the Cutting of the Card spectacle into a fundraiser and sells tickets.
But the email was kind and understanding. “Your post made me laugh and cry at the same time,” Jurgensen wrote. “I do hope some astute and kind reader finds and returns the books. We’ll keep a look out on our end.”
Chipper and non-threatening enough, but at the bottom of the email lurked a warning: “When responding, please be advised that the Town of Wellesley has determined that email could be considered a public document.”
Yikes. If I didn’t find a way to make this right, and soon, it was clear that some other kind of shoe could yet drop. If that shoe fell on my head, I might well deserve it. You already know TMI, so I may as well go all in. You see, I am a woman with a past when it comes to library books. Returning them overdue is the least of it. Confession time: I’ve dropped books in puddles. I’ve left books in the rain. I’ve travelled from Point A, gotten off at Point B, but waved the books off to explore Point C all alone. My books have spent lovely months in the Connecticut countryside, watching from the window seat as deer move through the woods, waiting for my return. I’ve had books, swear to God, simply disappear into the ether.
I rectify the problem in the usual way. I throw money at it. Then I vow to become an upstanding library patron with a stainless record, and my vow sticks. Until next time.
Next time is here. I’ve lost three lost books all at once. That’s a record even for me. It’s fun to blame Mr. Swellesley and all, but I wouldn’t want to stand before a judge on this one. I’d probably get a tiresome lecture about how since the books were out on MY card they were MY responsibility, and they shouldn’t have been mixed up in the car with a load of recycling and a Saturday chores-addled husband.
I had started to abandon hope of ever finding the lost books, but then a Facebook message arrived from sharp-eyed reader Lisa Siegel. “Found your copy of Bowlaway. Should I return to library?” she asked.
“Yes, please return to library! Oh, thank you thank you, thank you! Was it at the RDF? I went yesterday but couldn’t find it…I knew it could still be there, though,” I wrote back.
“Yes, was at RDF,” she confirmed.
Yes! One down, two to go.
Shortly after, the next good-news email came in, this one about On the Same Page by N.D. Gallund. Swellesley reader Amy Haley found it at the RDF while collecting books for Women’s Lunch Place in Boston. “I went through the other books I collected,” she wrote, “but had no luck finding the other two. I’ll drop it off at the library tomorrow.”
Hooray! One more to go: Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. Alas, Sapiens has proven to be as elusive as Big Foot, as unlikely to reappear as Cro-Magnon man. Due on March 19, the non-fiction best-seller is a high-demand item with a public that awaits. I’ll hold out until the due date, but if it doesn’t boomerang back, I’ll pay up. Online. That way I won’t have to face the Circulation Desk librarians. I’m all confident smiles to them when I return a pile of books, but there’s always a hang-dog skulk to my posture when I check out books, knowing in my heart what might happen.
Whether or not the last book makes it back, I’m counting myself lucky. I’ve got great Swellesley readers looking out for me and a library that takes me back every time I perform checkbook penance. This time really is going to be the absolutely last time I get myself in this kind of fix.
Thank you, everyone. My spirit has been renewed.