Waiting in line to check out my new book, I realized I’d forgotten to bring back the overdue book that I owed. Checking in my pocket, I only had a few Mexican coins — two large five-peso coins, a small three-peso coin, two tiny two-peso coins, and a medum-sized one peso coin. She’d take them.
When I got to the front of the line, I held a slip of paper with a stamped-on bar code under a scanner; the red laser made an x over the stamp and the librarian read out the name of the book I wanted to check out as it appeared on her screen: “The Empire Strikes Back. Will that be all for you?” I replied yes — I knew that, in this library, she’d scan the request card for the book and the bearded, portly, black-t-shirted librarian standing behind her with the small basket would go back into the stacks and pull the requests of the last few customers. “You have a $1 fine. Would you like to pay it?” I said yes, and handed her one two-peso coin. “Thank you,” she said, and my debt was settled; then she gave some advice to the people in line behind me. “You know, these two-peso coins are great, use them to pay any police fines you get in Mexico. They’ll count them the same as a one-peso coin but the police will like you a lot better.”
I moved past the librarian’s checkout counter and waited for the portly librarian to return with my book. He came back in a few minutes, with a basket full of books. Paperbacks came off, then a couple of hardcovers, and my book at the bottom. But was it my book? It looked like a box with a great Star Wars-themed cover… and, opening it, it was an assembly-required Death Star playset, Stormtroopers included.
This was bad. I had to head for the airport to get on vacation in two hours. I still had to eat lunch — no time to walk anywhere, I’d have to drive somewhere — and I had to pack, and what was I to read on said vacation? The playset was cool — I could spend hours with it — but it wouldn’t do well on the beach.
fn1. Just like the late, unlamented “Best”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_Products
fn2. I do in fact owe the library about $0.40. Also, some asshole put a hold on the book I’m 1/3 done with. I think I have to give up on it; hold wars are futile for everyone involved. Can anybody recommend a good, sparely-written, Western?