Sunday, November 09, 2008

Day 8: A Cautionary Tale

There are Big Things I've been turning over in my mind, fallout from the election and suchlike, and also war. Stuff that I haven't figured out myself yet, so you will probably soon be subjected to one or maybe more of those long tortured posts wherein the writer works out her ideas even as she is composing, so that it scatters all over the place and ends up contradicting itself three or four times.

But for now: nothing to do with politics, but a story I've been saving so here it is:

Some years ago, I went to visit some relatives who shall remain nameless. Suffice it to say that they were, and are, highly responsible and conscientious people.

I slept on a bed in the spare room which doubled as the TV room. At one point, the book I was reading fell down between the bed and the wall, and when I reached down to retrieve it, I also found a Blockbuster videocassette (this was before DVDs and Netflix) that looked like it had been lost down there for a while.

I presented it to my hosts, expecting them to be pleased. Imagine my surprise when, instead, I confronted a pair of ashen visages, fixated in horror on the video in my hands.

"We thought we'd brought that back," one of them finally stammered. "Months ago. The store said we hadn't, and wanted to charge us, so we gave them such a hard time. We argued, and insisted, and finally they backed off. And now..."

My host trailed off in silence, as we all stared at the video, erupting finally in a wave of bleak laughter suitable for the end of an O. Henry story.

As a librarian, I don't often have to deal with insistent patrons who don't think they should be charged for a lost item (that unhappy task falls to the circulation staff). But when I do--and sometimes they're right, and sometimes not--I always think of this story.


Anonymous MonkeyPants said...

Oh, I know the sinking feeling your hosts had!

It's the "Oh, God, I hassled them so much and now I am forever branded the insane bitch and hot the HELL am I going to return it now?" feeling.

Hate it!

10:53 PM  
Blogger jo(e) said...


And admitting sheepishly that I know that feeling ....

6:12 AM  
Blogger susan said...

Just this morning I found a netflix DVD that got misplaced in the moving process! Argh!

12:38 PM  

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