Friday, September 18, 2009
Read the fine print
I did it, well almost. I went back to a place where I had previously left with my head held down in shame. I had been working up the courage for weeks now, practicing avoidance the best I knew how. Then yesterday I told them, my children, we would be stopping by... the library. We, meaning all of us. The girls asked me if they could finally get some books, again. It had been quite a few weeks since I stepped inside. Fear, that my face would be remembered, the incident that I caused would come quickly to the mind of the nice librarian who had just been doing her job.
Let me back up a bit. My husband thought it was time to get away, take a trip, and off he went someplace with a hotel because he had work to do away from home. He was gone for 4 days. During this time period I had to return some library books. Not too hard seeing as the library is right in town, a 5 minute walk away. It could have been right out my front door and I still wouldn't have been able to return the books on time during this particular week. I told my husband my predicament, that I would not be able to get to the library before the books were due. He said to wait until Thursday when you could return books for "free" and not have to pay a fine. Ok, being the most dutiful, husband honoring wife that I am I obeyed, and waited until Thursday.
We ended up getting to the library around 3 that Thursday. Caleb went to return/check out his books. The very respectable librarian said that he had incurred a fine. I said "What? My husband told me to wait until today to return the books because it was a forgiveness day of sorts." The answer I was given is that you need to come in during happy hour times- which occur after 5 on Thursdays. At this point it was around 3:30. I politely pointed out the time to her and asked if there was any way that she could wave the late fees because it was almost 5. Her response, "No, I already checked in the books." Could I get the books back out and wait here til 5 to return them? No, they were already checked back into the system. There was no budging on this.
Ok, to be fair to myself I need to back up even further in the story. The day before Andy left town we discovered a note on our door. This note said that our water would be turned off the next day if we didn't pay up! My caring husband then proceeded to print out copies of bills to show they were paid on time and in full so I would be armed with "evidence". I had to be up and out the door early the next day, unable to call about the notice before I left. On the way home I stopped at the post office to pick up the mail. I discovered a letter about insufficient funds in our bank account and bills not being paid??!! What??! My pot was full and about to boil over. Thankfully, after making a few phone calls it was cleared up for me that the notice was put on the wrong door and the bank didn't need to send out the letter that it did. It was a mix up, a blooper! It did set the tone for the rest of the week as far as being uncertain what else would turn up that would cause me to stress more than usual without my husband there to help me...
Back to finish the library story which I'm sure you are quite anxious to see how it resolved itself. The librarian pointed out the sign to me that was at this point right in front of me on the counter. Funny, I didn't remember it being in such a prominent place before. It had the happy hour times listed. I tried again, this time my voice picking up strength, begging to no avail, telling her about having to care for my children for a week by myself, the bank and water issues that put strain on my worried mind and how I was just following my husband's orders about returning the books on Thursday and everything would be ok. It wasn't. At this point I was getting no sympathy and I was about to lose it. I excused myself to the bathroom before I could cause myself anymore embarrassment.
When I got back from the bathroom Caleb told me that the lady behind us in line had paid our fines. That's when I really lost it. I was really crying at this point, not just show tears meant to bring about sympathy anymore but actual tears of remorse for my actions. Me, supposedly a warrior in God's army, breaking at the thought of having to spend Panera Bread money for overdue library books and fighting as hard as I could because I thought I deserved a break. I didn't. I should have learned to read the fine print and put into practice a spirit of humility when I learned that I was incorrect. Instead, a stranger took on that role as she saw a confused person who shouldn't have been left alone to care for 3 children, needing a helping hand. She won the brownie points that day.
Yesterday, my first day back in there to face my fears. Kids in tow, books ready to hand over and I stopped mid- stride. There she was. I couldn't do it. I feigned interest in what books the kids had picked out, trying to time it so another librarian would be free to help me. "Go now," I said as I was practically racing to the counter! We reached the counter just as another librarian stepped up to help. This is what happens when you have too much time to think about yourself and what you have done in your past, good or bad. You start believing that you are important to everyone else, that they actually remember you and what you have done and said. I need to get over it. The librarian has probably long since moved on from the memory of a hysterical lady in front of her throwing a tantrum because she didn't want to play by the rules. Yet, I can dream, right- that I am slightly important enough that I will be remembered?
Someday I may have to tell you all about the Eagle's Nest incident. That also involved a stressed mom without her husband for the week, needing to dump her kids somewhere, anywhere that wouldn't involve getting arrested. The Nest was full, had to wait, was told I could put my name on the list. The condensed version involves more people coming and putting their names on the list and me, still waiting, because I did not put my name on the list. Didn't know you couldn't just wait by the wall, I mean I was there, the list people weren't. Had to wait and keep waiting. Poor girl was just following the rules as she called the people on the list ahead of me. I finally broke down and put my name on the list as I was realizing that just holding up the wall with my 3 kids and my tears would not get me in...
Realizing that sometimes you just can't manipulate to get your way. Oh, that sounds so very grown-up. I sure have a lot to learn, which includes reading the fine print. It may be worth reading if it can save me the embarrassment from having future public tantrums.