I was nine months pregnant with Little Man this August and simply glowing with fertile beauty and serenity in the 35 degree heat. BWAHAHAHA!! It was a daily struggle not to hit anyone who looked at me sideways over the head and scream, "What are you staring at? I'll pee on you, bitch!" Like this, but worse:
One day as I was lumbering out the door to an appointment for which I was already late, I realized the library books and magazines were due that day. I quickly rounded them up and placed them on the ottoman as I tried to jam my sausage feet into my sandals. While I was preoccupied with this contortionist trick, Sass sidled up to the ottoman and quietly stretched out a chubby arm. With a triumphant shriek, she grabbed the People magazine at the top of the pile and turned to run a victory lap with it.
I lunged at her and managed to grab the magazine away from her, but not before she ripped the cover from one side to the other. Normally I would go tape it up before returning it, but having completely run out of time, I dropped it off as is, feeling a little guilty but also remembering all the times I had received a library book or magazine with rips or pages missing and had fixed it up myself, free of charge.
The next day I was checking whether one of my library holds had come in and was surprised to see a $5.00 lost item charge on my account. I was sure I'd returned everything and called to correct the mistake. "There's no mistake," the librarian told me. "You brought back a magazine that was ripped, so we need to charge you for it." "Oh," I said. "I would have taped it up myself if I knew you were going to charge me for it."
"Oh, no!" gasped the librarian, as if I had suggested taking all the books in the library outside and burning them. "We don't want you to do that! We use special tape on the books and magazines and we don't want you to use yours." Oooh-kay. Always looked like plain old Scotch tape to me on the many, many library items I'd received with rips in them. "We'll need you to come pick up the magazine," the librarian continued.
At this point I began to think this woman was slightly insane. "I don't understand," I said, laughing a little. "You want me to take the magazine back?" "Well, we certainly can't keep it here," she huffed. "It's yours now." "Why don't you just put some Scotch tape on it?" I asked in bewilderment. "Did you SEE this magazine?" she snapped. "The item is completely damaged. We simply can't keep it."
The pregnancy beast began to rear its psychotic head. "There is one rip in the cover," I said, trying to breathe deeply. "The entire magazine is fine except for that one rip on the front, and none of the stories or pictures are affected at all. I don't understand why you can't just put some tape on the cover. I've gotten lots of things from the library that were taped up." "No, we can't do that," she declared. "You need to pay for this ruined item and come pick it up."
"Well, I have to say I think you're being completely ridiculous," I said as I lost my grip on my temper. "But I'm not going to argue with you about it. I'm also not going to pay for this magazine - EVER. Goodbye." They've sent me some threatening collection notices, but being an accountant, I'm familiar with collection agency practices and there isn't a place out there that will take a $5.00 account. However, the library can suspend my account for outstanding fines when it comes up for renewal in January, so our relationship is over. At least under my name. There's always Jay's card.
Later I was thinking about this incident and wondering why it made me so mad, other than the pregnancy hormones. It struck me that part of what bothered me was that it seemed so wasteful. I'm not an environmentalist by any means; there's no composting at our house. But growing up in a family that wasn't well off made me appreciate the value of material things, and I have to fight hoarder-like tendencies as an adult, because it seems wrong to throw out something someone could use, even if it's a little old or broken. Although I don't have the time or inclination to fix it up, someone else might want to. Stuff shouldn't go to a landfill until it really has no further use.
I know it was just a magazine, and this is more about my stubbornness and "fuck you" tendencies. But I still think some Scotch tape and common sense would have saved the day.