Wednesday, November 29, 2006

TUAT on hiatus?

My TUAT story time has been put on hiatus. Much as with Joey's spin-off from Friends, the official reason is ratings. My boss, Mrs. A, found it difficult to justify the cost of keeping two employees on Tuesday nights if we weren't actually going to have any kids show up on a regular basis.

Sure, I had my good weeks, when I'd have up to 6 kids turn up for story time. Those were great weeks. But more often than not, I'd have 1 or less kids show up and that was kind of depressing. Mrs. A was sad to see the program cancelled, but thought we might be better off coming back as a series of specials centered around holidays. At least, for the time being.

My very last TUAT was on Nov 14. One kid showed up for that, too, had a great time and then I had to break the news to his mom that it was the final show. Mrs. C told me to put up a sign letting people know the program was no more, but I never got around to it. Most of the kids who turn up for story time don't often visit the library regularly otherwise, so it wasn't really going to do much good for them. Also, because I had the shortsightedness not to take contact information from the parents of the few regulars, and because I don't generally know their names, I didn't know how to get in contact with them otherwise. I didn't really think of this fact, either, because I've essentially been gone from the "liberry" since the Thursday before Thanksgiving.

Last night, around 6:38, the door opened and Good Alan and three friends came running in, his mom right behind him. Good Alan saw me at the desk and happily exclaimed, "All right, it hasn't started yet!"

"Er, uh, actually, I've got some bad news," I said. "I'm afraid I've been cancelled."

Good Alan's mom was shocked and seemed very sad about it. She asked me why this was the case and I tried to explain the whole ratings issue in terms that didn't cast blame on her for not bringing Good Alan every single week. (Frankly, Good Alan's mom is the best mom of any of the regulars because she frequenly brought more than just her kid and was constantly inviting her friends and their kids. One person can only do so much P.R., though.) She asked if this was a decision by the "liberry" board, but I said it was a simple matter of economics.

As for the kids, they didn't seem too put out about it. They were happy enough when Good Alan's mom took them in the children's room and read them a story or two herself. On their way out, Good Alan's mom stopped back by the desk and told me that it just wasn't the same without me reading. She said again that she was very sorry to hear of the cancellation and that she and Good Alan really enjoyed my program. As she spoke, her eyes began to blink rapidly and looked very wet. She seemed very much about to cry, which made me feel horrible and honored at the same time.

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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.