The curse of the overdue library book

September 20, 2011

I have a book from the library that is overdue. I don’t want to return it. I know I won’t be able to renew it. And I still need it. So if I just keep it, even if it is overdue, then I can still use it. A brilliant plan, or so I thought.

Except, it isn’t working as well as I thought it would. Instead of using the book, it just sits there, on my shelf. I feel so guilty that it is overdue that I ignore it. As a matter of fact, when I went to look for it, I couldn’t even remember where I had put it!

There it was, innocently sitting in my suitcase. I had taken it on the road with me, foolishly thinking I’d actually use it. It never made it out of the suitcase. Then it got buried under all the dirty laundry. Good place for an overdue library book. Nobody would think to look for it there.

I can’t renew it because I used my university library card to take it out. And that card is no longer valid. I am on leave from my university program due to the wildfire. Since I’m on leave, all of my privileges are revoked. I guess they figure I don’t need to use services like the library and health care if I’m on leave due to stress.

At least I don’t have to pay for that bus pass. Whenever I register in a course, I have to pay for a bus pass. Actually, paying for a bus pass now would be okay. I’m now living in the city. Except I’m on leave so I’m not registering for any course. When I was paying for the bus pass, I was living in Slave Lake. Slave Lake is three hours north of the city. Three hours north of any bus route that the bus pass I had to pay for would work.

When I complained about having to pay for a useless bus pass, I was told to drive to the edge of the city, take the bus, and then I wouldn’t have to pay for parking. It’s a good thing I was talking to the person over the phone. I’m sure they would have been quite insulted if they had seen the incredulous look on my face after hearing such a ridiculous solution.

Some solutions are best unspoken.

Which brings me back to my overdue library book. Perhaps the solution to hide the book in my house isn’t such a good idea. Since the guilt is so great that I’m not even using the book, I might as well return it.

I find it quite fascinating that I would feel so guilty from having an overdue library book. The fines aren’t even that much. So what is the big deal? I can’t remember any incredibly negative experience surrounding overdue library books. I do remember the special days when we went to the library to take out books. Maybe I learned at a very young age how privileged I was to be able to take that book out. I was responsible for that book and I had to ensure it was brought back to the library on time and in good condition.

Some lessons stay with us forever. And even though the lesson doesn’t necessarily serve us well in today’s world, we still cling to the lesson. Not even knowing how we learned it, or even what we learned. Some habits are just not going to change even it the circumstances no longer warrant the habit.

Now the book is with my purse. I will return it tomorrow. Since they revoked my privileges for borrowing, maybe I’ll be rebellious. I’ll drop the book off and not pay my fine. I’ll wait until my library privileges are reinstated then act surprised that I even had a fine.

“What, me?”

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