Friday, January 14, 2005

Honked Off

Did a 9 to 5 shift today, filling in for Mrs. C who was out of town at a meeting. For a Friday, it was terribly slow. I actually had to look for work to do to justify my existence, beyond playing Mrs. C for the day.

There was some good news, though. Mrs. A and one of our board members had to do a conference call with a grant organization, which tied up the phone line in the morning. I was thus blissfully spared such burning daily questions as “What time do you close?” and “Is MRS. C there?” for nearly an hour and a half.

Toward the end of the conference call, someone’s car alarm started to go off outside. We don’t really have much problem with car alarms here in Tri-Metro. In fact, I haven’t really heard that many since I left Charlotte in 2001. I guess most folks around here either don’t use them or the alarms just never have cause to go off. This one certainly was, though. For five minutes all we heard was HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK!

Mrs. A came downstairs to make sure it wasn’t her car.  It wasn’t.  Instead, it was some car up the hill, probably near the little apartment building around the corner. Mrs. A stood on the steps outside, trying to track the alarm sound back to its source, but by then the car’s owner must have finally come out to check on it because HONKing ceased.

Five minutes later, it started again. HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK! Then, a few long minutes after that, it again ceased. Then, a few short minutes later, it started again. I was just imagining some poor bastard trying to sleep in a bit, who kept having to get up and find his keys to turn off the infernal alarm. Then, he’d have just enough time to go back inside and climb into bed before some little kid hiding in the bushes would sneak out and smack the car again.

I knew exactly when the conference call ended. That’s when the phone started ringing off the hook with all the people who’d been trying to call for an hour and a half. The very first one was from a man who sounded excited that he was finally able to get through.

 “Is the library… are… are you open?” he asked breathlessly. At least he didn’t ask what time we closed.

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An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.