Thursday, March 10, 2011

and a fine Fuck You, to you, too

A recent comment on another blog said that libraries should eliminate charging fines. And there are a lot of librarians who agree that fines are wrong, for whatever stupid-ass reasons they have: the economy, they're pussies, whatever.

But fines are the only thing that any library user respects. Without fines, the library is just a place where they can steal all the shit they want, without any consequences.

What is the library, but free stuff that you can own for a short period of time. You get to borrow something that you wouldn't normally buy for yourself with your own money and keep it, in most cases, for about a month, without any penalties. You know up front, exactly how long you can keep it and exactly when it's due back so that someone else may borrow it. You get it in pretty good condition and the library expects it back in similar condition so that we can lend it to the next person.

It's a fucking utopia.

And to keep this running smoothly, all the library asks is that you return what you borrowed before the time you agreed to return it and also, that you don't fuck it up too much. This is a simple request, one that all people would make with each other when borrows an item from another.

Hey Joe, can I borrow your pen?

Sure, Pete. Here you go. But please don't stick it up your ass like last time, okay?

Oops, Joe. Too late.
When someone borrows a library item and returns it late, he's pretty much saying Fuck You to every person who might want to borrow that item next.

When he leaves it on a lawn chair in the rain:
Fuck You.

When he spills coffee on it:
Fuck You.

When he tears the pages:
Fuck You.

And so the library adds a fee to when you do these things because, frankly, you are an asshole.

If you borrow something from a friend and you agree to return it next Thursday, but find yourself unable to do so, you call your friend and say that you need it longer. Because you're friends, and that's what friends do.

So when your friend says she's sorry and you can't keep it longer because she really needs that thing back because her other friend is waiting for it, what do you say? Do you tell your friend to fuck herself and you'll keep that shit as long as you want? Probably not. But if you don't return the stuff on time, you'll know that the friendship has changed.

All a library is to everyone is a place that cares for everybody's stuff. Everyone who pays local taxes contributes toward buying this stuff, and the library makes it available for everyone to borrow. You don't own it. Your neighbor doesn't own it. But each of you own about 1/100000 of each item that's in the library. If you live in a small town, you own about 1/5000 of each item in the library. And even then, you wouldn't own that much because a lot of your money goes to pay for electricity to keep the place clean from all the garbage you leave in it each day.

So what you say to the library when you return something late or damaged is that you're not a friend. You're not even a frenemy, whatever the hell that is. You are a fucking asshole. And you need to be treated like one.

So the library charges you money because you are late. Because money seems to be the only thing that you respect. You don't respect the library materials. You don't respect each other. But money terrifies the shit out of you.

Money is the only thing you respect. You respect it because you don't have any of it. You respect it because you don't understand it. You respect it because without it, you don't get any respect for anyone else.

So that's why the library charges fines. Because it's the only way we can expect to get back everyone's shit. Our shit. Because we our the caretakers of all this shit.

We understand that there is a segment of the population who will just steal stuff from the library. We understand that. But those people are thieves. And when we catch them, we will have them arrested and put in jail.

And we know that there are people who would never return anything late. They clean their fingerprints from the DVDs. They don't bend the book pages. They don't throw the CDs on the floor of their cars. And mostly, they wouldn't dare take a book into the bathroom. But if they did, and if they read a book on the toilet, they don't wipe their asses with the same hand they use to turn the pages.

We love these people. These keeping-our-library-materials-away-from-their-asses people. We would lend these people anything.

And then there's you. You kinda, sorta care as long as it's convenient. You use the library because you believe it's free. Free, like taking 50 napkins or 20 ketchups at Burger King and throwing all the excess in the trash. Free, like you eat and drink all you want, but never offer to chip in to help clean up and never hold a party at your place. Free, like someone else will pick up the check. You have no respect for what you borrow, you have no respect for the hard work of others and your word means nothing. You barely respect yourself. You suck.

When the library adds that ten cent fine to your account, it's the only legal way we can remind you that you're acting like a little shit. Some people take that little sting of negative reinforcement and learn from it. They become better neighbors who return things on time. And others complain about the hardship because they are special.

Some people express disgust when they view someone smoking a cigarette. Or when they hear that you don't recycle.

But when I hear that you owe the library money, I think, what the fuck? And any hope for the future of our friendship just goes down the toilet.

The library is here for everyone, not just you.

Return your shit on time, or pay the fucking fine. I'm putting that on a tee-shirt.

1 comment:

  1. Right on! Preach it! I love the people who get almost belligerent because they owe .50 for a book they kept 2 days late.