While I’m deciding on a topic we’ll work on (the weekend turned out differently than I anticipated, though I did get to see a plastic bag dragon, which I think Konnie Lukes should bring to any and every parade in Worcester), here are some things that have happened to me over the past few weeks at the library:
1) I’ve been trying to evangelize on behalf of the self-checkout. One evening, I saw a mild-mannered-looking lady with a zillion library books in a cloth bag (yes, it was like looking into a mirror) and there was a long line for the human-being checkout, so I asked her if she’d tried the machines.
She hadn’t, so I showed her how to use them. You scan your card, you put the books on the machine, and it can usually scan the books if they’re not piled too high (so, it can usually get 3 books’ worth of scanning done at once, more for kids’ books).
She started pulling out kids’ books by the armful — so many that I started to wonder if she homeschools her kids — and I was busy chatting away about how the machine works and how many books you can stack.
And then she started pulling out sex manuals by the armful. Which immediately makes me start blubbering on more about the machine, because there’s really nothing else I could talk about — certainly not, “Oh, I didn’t know they came out with a third edition of…”
And that’s the last time I’ve evangelized for those machines.
2) I went to the library booksale on the Friends-only Thursday afternoon a few weeks back. They love to see me coming because they know it’s a minimum of one boxful of children’s books out the door.
Usually the conversation goes like this:
Volunteer at the desk, eyeing the stack of 30+ books: “Are you a teacher?”
Nicole: “No, just a mother.”
This time, however, the conversation went like this:
Elderly volunteer 1: “Are you a teacher?”
Elderly volunteer 2, answering for Nicole: “No, she’s a mother, and she’s just wonderful. She has one whole room in her house that’s just lined with children’s books.”
Nicole, silently: “Um, is she stalking me?”
Nicole, verbally: “Well, I think my kids would have a different opinion on the ‘wonderful’ part.”
(At this point, the guy who works at the library bookstore confirms my assessment that my children could win an Olympic medal in simultaneously being really loud and pathologically shy.)
3) A few weeks ago, I was walking out of the library and a man was walking in. He didn’t look like the kind of guy who gets a lot of smiles (not that he was unattractive, just a bit tough-looking), so I flashed him a real smile.
So we passed each other, and he turned around, and I turned around, and he thanked me for smiling, because so many people just don’t look at you, or give you dirty looks.
I’m going to wax cheesy now, but there are so many times in the course of a day when I pass by someone or am waiting at a traffic light, and I wonder sometimes whether I do enough to give those I come across a simple acknowledgement of humanity: a head-nod, a wave, a smile. (Though when I do try to smile at someone in the car over from me, I always feel a bit creepy.)
I’ve been thinking about that man, and the smile we shared, and I’ve been trying to smile a bit more because of it. A smile is such a small thing that I often forget its importance.