June 13, 2011

The Walk of Shame

Last week, we checked out 12 books at the library, which is 12 more than we should have checked out.

I know better. Over the past six months, 2 DVDS and a Babysitter's Club novel haven't made it out of our house alive. After our last mishap, I swore that I would never step foot in the public library again.

But then school let out for the summer and my morals fell by the wayside.

"My name should be up there," I told my brood while we waited in line at the circulation desk. I pointed to a gold plaque listing the names of the library's biggest donors.

Kellen was carrying the corpse of our latest victim in a plastic shopping bag. Exactly what happened to the book is certain; by the time I found him, its body was barely recognizable.

"Cameron dropped it into bathtub!" my daughter screeched.

"I saw him throw it in!" added Cortlen.

Clearly several people witnessed the assault, yet it didn't occur to anyone to try to do anything about it.

"What could we have done?" Cortlen asked incredulously as he covered his hands with his mouth to stifle the grin.

"You could fish the book out of the water," I suggested.

[insert blank stare]

While at least one of my kids would like me to believe that he isn't playing with a full deck, the second witness was smart enough, however, to realize that time was of an essence. She knew that the book wasn't going to last long before it turned into a pulpy mush. That's why she screamed at the top of their lungs for the third to join them.

I found everyone in the bathroom, giggling hysterically.

"You think that's funny?" I asked.

Twenty-four hours later, I had to make the walk of shame. I timed my library visit so that it would coincide with the lunch break of the Children's Librarian.

"Ooooooooh!" The librarian on duty almost fainted when she saw the book. She spent the next few minutes looking like she was mourning the loss of a close relative.

It was almost too much to take.

"What do I owe you today?" I asked, pulling out my wallet. Most libraries let you buy the exact same book on Amazon and pay a small replacement processing fee. This library makes you give them half of your liver.

The librarian was willing to give me a number (which wasn't as bad as I thought), but only after she showed the deceased to all of her co-workers.

All I needed was a scarlet "A" pinned to my breast.

The only consolation in all this was that while the librarian was showing off my latest example of bad parenting, my toddler was using his fingers to make irrigation holes in a large potted plant in the lobby. Usually I would have grabbed him, but for some reason, I didn't have a lot of motivation. By the time the librarian and I were finished settling up, the ruined book was put in perspective.

31 comments

Erin @ Sassin' Southern Style said...

The Babysitter's Club. *sigh* I loved Claudia Kishi and all of that tiger parenting there was going on in that house.

My thoughts and prayers are with you during the difficult time your wallet is experiencing.

The Davis Family said...

I hear ya! Last time I went to the library, I was told I had $18 in fines because the DVD my son had checked out was so overdue. The part that killed me ... he'd checked out a DVD that we already own. Kids... they drive us crazy, but we love 'em anyway.

Mrs. Pickins @ theslimpickins.com said...

Hilarious! I love your writing style.

Emily said...

I, too, succumbed and took my kids to the library the 1st day of Summer Vacation. I was unable to check anything out until I paid the $48 fine. I lost a cover to a book on CD. I had the actual CDs and case, but the cover had the bar code and apparently it is nearly $20 to replace a bar code. My husband repeatedly tells me just to go to Barnes and Noble in the first place. That way, we actually have something tangible for our purchase. :-)

FamilySpice said...

Oh, I'm laughing hysterically!!! I haven't been to a public library in years just for this very reason. My husband doesn't get why. I should have him read this to open his eyes!!

Donna said...

I work for a much larger city than the one I live in and therefore have access to the lovely large library. That is one of my biggest perks. That plus I go while I'm at work and don't bring the kids. But I have already bought two books. One was a spilled glass of water and mishap and the other one got in the way of a sick child. I thought that one was ok till the library called and told me there was some green and yellow stuff on some of the pages! So I had to make the walk of shame also. My favorite part, the puked-on book was a book no one liked so we had to throw it out, couldn't even donate it to a place that needed books!

Mom of 12 said...

I'm so sorry for your loss! I'm sure I could have bought several dozen volumes with the amount of money we have paid in fines...and that's just for my 12-year-old.
Sandy
www.twelvemakesadozen.blogspot.com

Bossy said...

My dad lost a book when he was eight from his small town library. The librarian there (who has to be close to 100) still gives him the evil eye and asks him about it.

We ran into her about two years ago at the fourth of July children's parade she came upto my dad and asked him if he ever found the book.
Kira

Melissa said...

The walk of shame is doubly embarrassing for me. I am a elementary school librarian who works closely with the public library. So everyone knows me and what I do. I always get the judgmental "your kids should know better" looks.

HeeWho said...

I swore off the library for several years because we had 5 cards with 6 fines and I just couldn't make that Walk of Shame. My youngest is old enough to get a card now so I am currently using library visits as a motivator to get them to clean their rooms. Amazing what a literary drought will do.

Brave Brooke said...

The two last books I requested expired and were sent back to the libraries they belong at. When I explained what happened to the librarian she told me next time I should call and have them extend the hold. I replied okay next time I'm in the hospital for an extended time because I had an emergency c-section I'll call and let the LIBRARY know! (of course I was hesitant to go up because I owe them $7 and I can't blame that on kids...I know that walk of shame)

Gina said...

I've gotten some books from the library that were in pretty pitiful condition... sometimes, I don't think they're paying attention. Bearing that in mind, if a book is damaged, I return it in the night drop and hope that the person pulling the pile in the next morning isn't paying too close attention.

If I get charged, then I pay it. If not, I didn't do any damage that others haven't done... and you know that the library is going to put it back on the shelves regardless, they won't replace it unless it's disintegrating before your eyes.

Rocket Ma'am said...

I've found if you obtain a replacement book and arrive with it in hand, half the time they won't even make you pay the processing fee. And I've experienced this several times over enough to know which librarians at which libraries are most sympathetic.

Future Mama said...

HA! We have an overeager dog who is quite fond of nibbling on any library books I leave lying around...I always blame it on "our new puppy." The librarian doesn't need to know he is fully grown and knows better!

Much love,
Future Mama
http://expectingablessing.blogspot.com/

Deanna said...

yep- I finally wrote a note and told the teacher my then 6/7 yr old was not allowed to check out books. The librarian even refunded money when we found books 2 years later.
On the bright side his reading level is off the charts so no ill side effects from *not* checking books out.

Hurst Family said...

I just call the dues I pay "membership fees" and it makes the library seem much more exclusive. Sounds like you'd be a platinum member.

Kayleen said...

15yo stepdaughter checked out several CDs, but didn't think to let us know when they were to be returend. We got the letter in the mail with no dollar amount. She had $82 in late fees that she had to cough up. Later it happened with books, $21 in fines. With the CDs she paid half becuase dad said he would take them back, but she didn't remind us at any point. The books were all on her though at that point. She's old enough to reap the consequences if she can't turn things in on time. Same goes for school.

Rebecca said...

I consider the fees to be my contributions to keeping the library running. We've also found out if we go to the desk and confess up front, they are usually very nice about it. (They waived the replacement fee on a horrid , ripped paperback SpongeBob book for us!) And fortunately, the book my 1 year old tossed into the tub was one I really liked.

Beth Hatch said...

I wish you would have come to our library because as a children's librarian with two babies under two, I am VERY sympathetic to the moms that come in.

At least you didn't have a box of book soaked in dog urine that you tried to discreetly put in the book drop (even though when we discharge them they show who checked them out...lol). Yes, that did happen.

And honestly, I've lost so many CDs from audiobooks that I probably give back a percentage of my salary to the library.....

Just keep coming back. Life happens; librarians know it. But, we still love readers and our patrons. :)

LaLa said...

The happiest time of our lives was when we lived in a city that's library had a policy of endless forgiveness. They NEVER charged late fees. I asked them about it once and they said that they had far less loss to their book collection since they had implemented that policy. Apparently the walk of shame does more to keep people from returning their books at all than it does to encourage them to be on time. ;)

The Ludlows said...

My favorite part is how you know that most libraries let you replace it via amazon :)
I quit the public library decades ago :)

happinessafterheartache said...

Just found your blog and am laughing hysterically at some of your recent posts. It's nice that you can look back and laugh as well. I love your writing style!

The Mommy Therapy said...

I don't know how we do it, but some how we destroy DVD cases from the library. It's baffling and embarrassing. Fortunately,it's also free up to this point.

We've had to pay for a few lost ones and it is pricey here. We have yet to submerge one in water though....I'm sure it's just a mater of time.

Rebekah said...

My senior award in high school was "highest library fines" and then after graduating college I owed so much money to the library that they withheld my diploma. I still don't have my high school or college diplomas, despite the fact that I graduated from both. I think the Librarians are holding them hostage under the counter until I pay all my fees. Never gonna happen. After 10 years I thought I would be responsible enough to bring my son to the library and check out some books. That didn't end well.

Glad to know I am not alone. Your post cracked me up - especially the part about being on the donor list!

Vicky said...

My condolences to your bank account. At this rate you may turn it into the 'walk of fame'!

Anonymous said...

We check out a lot and I see the fees I pay as a small price to pay. If I had to buy all those books.. That said I Hate paying fees. Sadly all the librarians I grew up with are retiring and the new bunch... well.. Let's just say claiming I had not returned the DVD case when I had and then me buying a new movie just for the case and then them saying oh we had that sitting right here I was just going to call you... But make sure you pay the late fine and enjoy your new movie... So when I called and asked you if you had that case and you claimed you looked, you looked where? In the refrigerator??? Right.

WILLIAM said...

You posts make me smile.

Aubrey said...

If it makes you feel any better I had to return a book that was missing the title page. When they asked for said title page saying they would just tape it back in I then had to explain that my son ate it.

After everyone finished laughing they told me not to worry about it, but I had to undergo a good five minutes of laughter before they could explain this to me. I swear they still laugh at me every time I go back.

Carol said...

You are so funny! I love your writing style. I understand your pain. I have paid for a few books my puppies thought were chew toys. I was a children's librarian for 20 years and we were always as forgiving as we could be if the patron came in and 'fessed up but not so much if they just dropped a damaged book in the bookdrop like we would not notice and didn't know who had it checked out. Over the years I have retrieved out of the bookdrop(more often than you would like to know) books soaked in urine (not a pleasant suprise to pick those up..yuk!), throwup, poop, jelly. red soda, mud (and those are just some of the things we could recognize) and found the following items being used as a bookmark....a slice of raw bacon, a burrito, lots of used kleenex, a PAYCHECK, part of a grilled cheese sandwich, filled out tax forms, a $20 bill (yes, we called the patron), a leaf of lettuce, candy bar wrappers with bits of chocolate glueing it to the page, credit card, chewed bubblegum and food stamp cards. And 9 times out of 10 when we would call the patron they would insist the book was like that when they checked it out. Honestly, when you have to handle every single item being checked in you tend to notice if your hand sticks to the jelly it is coated in or if dozens of baby roaches run out when you open it up. But you know what, most librarians love your kids, realize life happens (but that includes being financially responsible for things you damage), are pleased to see you come in the door no matter what we remember about the last time you came in and are just delighted to see parents reading to their kids. I love your blog, Meanest Mom. Signed, Meanest Librarian (LOL! about as mean you are)

Tammy said...

This post is close to my heart as I am a library clerk that spends all day hearing these things. Don't worry about your walk of shame, everyone does it, multiple times a day.
As for the librarians not believing what happened, please forgive us. People lie to us all day about what they took out, what happened to it and how they "know" they returned it. You wouldn't believe the stories I hear!
If you damage a book via water, coffee, or puke, PLEASE do not bring it back to us. We know what you have our and can come up with the replacement cost without touching said book. And yes, if you put it in the book drop, even if we're closed, we KNOW who you are. :)
And on behalf of all the librarians, thank you for paying those fines because they keep lots of us employed!

Anonymous said...

I just go ahead and buy a replacement on Amazon and tape/glue the bar code back on. Nobody is ever the wiser, and I figure it isn't dishonest, because they got a new copy of the same book.