When the Paladin Wins Out: A Library Tale

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a paladin and a rogue vying for influence over my actions.  Sometimes paladin wins out, sometimes the rogue does.

This story is one in which my inner paladin demonstrates why being the goody-goody sometimes works out for the better.

In spending time with one of my friends a few months ago, we ended up talking about Frank Abagnale, Jr., who is the basis for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the movie Catch Me If You Can.  I had neither seen the movie nor read the autobiographical book after which it was named, but Mr. Abagnale’s life was so fascinating that I soon ended up seeing the movie after that conversation (it’s GREAT!  If you haven’t seen it yet, do so).  I knew I had to read the biography next.

old-libraryI’m a librarian by profession, so I had easy access to the means to acquire it.  I put a hold on the book, got it a few days later, and started reading.  It was a fascinating book, but as many of you know, life often gets in the way of your leisure reading time.  I was only about 100 pages into the book when it came due, so I went to renew it–and found that another library customer already had a hold on it.

Now, when a customer has a hold on a book or other library item you have checked out, that means you need to return it by the date it was due when you checked it out.  You can’t renew or extend the due date on that item, as you’ve had the length of the loan period–usually 2 or 3 weeks–to read, watch, or listen to the item in question.  If you don’t return the item by its due date, you are penalized with a daily fine.  Many library customers are familiar with all of this.

Since I was a library employee, though, I had a privilege that our other customers didn’t.  I wasn’t fined for items that were overdue (at least not at first–you could be charged for the replacement of the item if it wasn’t returned by a certain point).  It was at this point where the rogue and the paladin started to pull me in different directions.

ultimate-spider-man-angel-and-devil_9444The rogue whispered in my ear to finish Catch Me If You Can.  I could have kept the book, which I was really enjoying and really did want to read.  I could delay for however long it took me to read the book, which wouldn’t have been that long, right?  What harm could really come of it?

But the paladin had words for me, too.  Words of honor, and integrity, and the idea that library rules existed for a reason.  Would not I be undermining the system by which our taxpayers are supposed to be guaranteed free, equitable access to library items if I selfishly kept them when I shouldn’t?  How could I call myself a good librarian if I didn’t support it?

The paladin won out that day.  As a library manager, it was up to me to set a good example for my co-workers and not abuse my privileges.  Besides which, I’d seen cases of staff abuse of their privileges that had resulted in people losing their jobs and/or being disciplined because of it.  I didn’t want to go down that path, or even start to.

So, with a heavy heart, I played by the rules, checked in the book that was due, and put it in transit to the next customer, forlornly wondering if I would be able to continue reading Catch Me If You Can anytime soon.

As it turned out, it was very soon.

Not five minutes later, I was at the desk, and looking for items to shelve.  A customer came in, returned some items and left before I could issue them a receipt.  Imagine my delighted surprise when I got to the audiobook they’d returned, which happened to be the book I had been reading, Catch Me If You Can.  And, as a bonus, it had no existing holds on it.

dstfpI didn’t actually let out a whoop and jump for joy, but I did do a small arm pump and grin big as I checked the audiobook out.  I actually really enjoy audiobooks, and spent enough time in my car that I would easily finish this one within two week.  I decided to start listening to it from the beginning, and ended up loving the whole thing.

And I could swear the paladin was smiling down at me, and at the rogue, who was rolling his eyes dismissively.  His words to both, “You see?  Even when you can’t always see it, there is always a way to do right and still be victorious.”

Touché, Mr. Paladin.  Touché.


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