Working from home, I don’t get out as much as I used to. It’s a regrettable, though unavoidable part of freelance life. So, during these chilly days of January, I’ve been making an effort to walk more, to capture a bit of that fleeting sun before it vanishes. I also seem to be reading faster, flying through books, then putting more on reserve at the library.
After my lunch, I pull on my snow boots, which keep my feet toasty even when there is no snow, and a hat (which I rarely wear except in extreme circumstances), and walk fifteen minutes to our nearest library. Growing up, nothing was more exciting than a trip to the library–stacks of books, bright posters, those great little bean bags they’d toss on the floor for the kids. It was nice to feel that anticipation again. One day, while it was particularly cold, I found that the library was closed for another twenty minutes. New hours. I sat on a bench and waited.
In the course of those few minutes, many people walked by. They looked to me to explain the new hours. I shrugged, pointing them to the sign on the door. Everyone was very disgruntled, and for some reason, that seemed a little funny to me.
One woman huffed. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t have time for this.”
Another man found ulterior motives. “They’re just doing this so they can lay people off.”
My favorite, an elderly gentleman with earmuffs, became agitated and said to me, “Well, I’M going to wait in the car.”
I, shivering on my bench, wondered if that was a force of habit. It felt like something he said often to his wife, jiggling his keys at the doorway of a Macy’s. Then the library opened and flooded with readers. It was warm and well lit, and I gathered my books on reserve, adding a few more for good measure. As I was leaving, I heard someone say, “These new hours. Did anyone even bother to ask US first?”