Mr. Crab, third grumpiest old man in all the world, came in yesterday at the very end of my shift. As he scuttled over to the new nonfiction, a lady came up to check out then had difficulty finding her card. I was hoping she had left it at home so I could loudly explain to her the rules about patrons having to have their cards in order to check out and offering to make her a replacement card if she needed, just for his benefit. But then she found her card and my object lesson was no more.
Mr. Crab came up to the desk a minute later. I was hoping he was going to announce to me that he had lost his card again and then dare me to try and make him purchase another, but he didn't. Instead he wanted to know if we had the Wa11 Street J0urnal. Our early afternoon mail had already arrived, but I didn't recall seeing the Journal in the stack.
"Well, we get the Wa11 Street J0urnal, but I'm not sure if today's issue came."
"You do get it?" Mr. Crab asked in a tone of disbelief.
"Yes. We do. I'm just not sure if today's issue came in earlier."
"But you DO get it regularly?"
Have I stuttered?
"Yes. We get it regularly. Usually daily."
"Because two years ago you went six months without getting it at all."
I have no recollection of that but I knew better than to try and argue the point with Mr. Crab, who probably keeps a diary about it, dutifully recording each and every time he has visited us, whether or not we demanded his library card in order to check out books to him, the amount of shit measured by exact volume that he was able to give us over the matter, whether or not the Wa11 Street $%#&ing J0urnal was in its proper place on the newspaper rack and a small memo reminding him to be sure and threaten not to send in his annual $200 donation.
"I can't speak to that," I said. "All I'm saying is that while we do receive the Wa11 Street J0urnal regularly, we may or may not have received one today. If we did receive it, it is likely upstairs on the newspaper rack. If not, it's not."
"Six months! You went six months without getting it, two years ago," he said, his red legs clattering across the floor as he moved sideways toward the stairs.
Mrs. A returned just before I was to leave. I warned her who was in the building and that she should be prepared to receive shit about the Wa11 Street J0urnal's six month gap, two years ago.
"Oh, we did not!" she said, referring to the alleged 6 month absence. She explained that there had been a problem with our subscription and we didn't receive any J0urnals between November 04 and January of 2005.
"Did he ask about his card?" she said.
Unfortunately, I had appointments elsewhere, otherwise I would gladly have stuck around off the clock to deal with the storm of feces that no doubt happened after I left.