misslizzers (misslizzers) wrote,

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The Terrorist Threat of Late Fees

In the spirit of the Americans who first brought us to this fair country, when I am dissatisfied with my living situation, I move. As it happens, until I can afford my own place in a city I like five minutes from my job, I am going to be dissatisfied on a regular basis.

This makes me pretty unpopular with the government. In the last election, I found out at the last minute that I had been purged from the voting records in the last [conservative] place I voted in - no coincidence, as my formerly republican friends were not - and since I couldn't prove I lived anywhere other than a tiny PO Box, I didn't get to vote. Although the DMV changed the address on my liscence to my PO Box, I've been told that an asshole cop could theoretically ticket me for this. Forwarding addresses expire, things get screwed up. But these things, with a little more dilligence on my part, could be overcome. Not so with the library.

For a while I had a good thing going with the ol' library. I moved five times in three years, returned my books on time, and they were none the wiser. Then I let my sister borrow a book on my card which she forgot to return. When they realized the late notice wasn't getting to me, they happily ripped up my card. Since I was living in a different county at the time and didn't even know my exact address, I was basically screwed.

But time passes, hearts soften, and of course, I move. This time within walking distance of both my job and the library. Hugh was kind enough to send a postcard to my house. It took three tries, since the postman had a hard time believing I lived there, but persistance won out in the end. So armed with the one scrap of paper officially tying me to the earth, I marched over to the post office and asked for a card.

"I can't give you a card. This has a question mark on it." So it did. Why the postman saw fit to do that, I don't know.

"I don't know who's asking the question, so I don't know how to answer it. But isn't the fact that I'm standing here with a postmarked card in my name to my address THE ANSWER?"

"Don't you have anything else addressed to you?"

"No, I have a PO Box. Everything gets delivered there."

"Any utility bills?"

"They're not in my name."

"Any subscriptions?"

"People get PO Boxes when their mail is not reliably delivered to their house. Why would I have things sent there when I have a PO Box???"

"Well, I guess your landlord could write a letter." Yes, dear reader, the same landlord who takes 10 days minimum to call me back - if ever - and two months to cash a check. He's gonna write a letter to my little aging librarian with the giant hairy facial mole that I'm ready to punch about now.

"Look, I live, work and collect my mail within walking distance from here. Why can't I have a library card???"

"I'm sorry, but I can't in good conscience honor something with a question mark on it." Of course her conscience has no problem disenfranchising me.

Her supervisor wasn't there, and I sensed the crowd was not with me; and why would they be? They just want their constitutional right to a speedy checkout of books. So since I pay $25 a year to make sure my mail actually gets to me, I get treated like a criminal, even though my taxes have been paying her salary for years.

So I did what any terrorist would do when he wants to buy a book on forging library cards or pistol whipping librarians; I went up the street to Barnes & Noble and paid cash.
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