Mr. Crab, third grumpiest old man in all the world, happened in this week, approached the circ-desk and inquired to Mrs. B as to the whereabouts of our copy of the Wa11 Street J0urnal. Now, it might seem odd that Mr. Crab would ask about the location of our Wa11 Street J0urnal copy when we have a perfectly good and well-identified periodicals section upstairs where one might expect to find such things as, say, periodicals. No, Mr. Crab's reasoning behind his question is two-fold: A) he firmly believes that, two years ago, we spent six full months without a subscription to the Wa11 Street J0urnal and he enjoys broaching that particular subject even though reality reflects that we only spent about a month and a half without it; and B) at our "liberry" the mail does not arrive on a schedule preferable to anyone, except, I assume, our postmaster.
For years, our mail used to arrive faithfully each morning at around 9:30. In the past few months, however, our mailman's route has been fiddled with by the postmaster on a number of occasions, causing it to arrive later and later in the day. (We know this because our mailman doesn't like it either and ratted out his boss to us.) First we started getting our mail around 1p. Then, it arrived closer to 2, then 3. Now it can come anywhere between 3 and 5 o'clock and arrives earlier only when the mailman has several large and heavy packages for us and doesn't want to have to lug them around all day.
Still, when the mail does finally arrive, we're rarely in any hurry to put the Journal in its place on the newspaper rack. The only people I've ever known to actually read it are Mr. B-Natural (first grumpiest old man in all the world), Mr. Smiley (second grumpiest old man in all the world, but who hasn't graced us with his presence for over a year now), Mr. Crab (the aforementioned third) and a long unseen patron who used to refer to the Wa11 Street J0urnal as "the Capitalist Tool," which, in turn, was how I came to refer to him. Often, the Journal just stays on the lower shelf of our downstairs shelving cart awaiting some good soul to haul it upstairs. Often, it remains there until closing time, when we finally do haul it upstairs and lob it atop the pile of its brethren. Also, due to rapid circ-desk duty employee turnover, the person manning the desk doesn't always know whether or not the mail has arrived, so if anyone comes in seeking the Journal, (i.e. Mr. B-Natural or Mr. Crab), we tell them to first check the shelving cart and if it's not there then it's either in the periodicals section upstairs or it hasn't arrived yet. It's a pretty simple formula, but these two horse's asses don't care to remember it and ask us every time.
During Mr. Crab's visit, Mrs. B happened to know that the mail had not arrived. She explained this to him and noted that the mail might not arrive for hours yet. Mr. Crab was, naturally, quite grumpy about this. Mrs. B told me that she had expected he would next probably complain about the lateness of the mail, but instead he complained about something else.
"Do you know what your library director said to me the other day?" Mr. Crab said, leaning closer.
"What?" Mrs. B asked.
"I asked her if the Wa11 Street J0urnal had arrived and she told me to look on this cart and if it wasn't there it might be upstairs." And he said this in a tone that suggested any right-thinking person should be appalled. Then he finally uttered the words we've been waiting to hear for years: "She won't be getting a donation next year."
Why Mrs. A's suggestion set Mr. Crab off when the rest of the staff have told him the exact same thing on multiple occasions, I'm none too sure. Mrs. A is not a fan of Mr. Crab, so perhaps his finely attuned senses detected her dislike. Whatever the case, Mrs. B didn't know how to respond to him. When she told me about it, though, my brain nearly hemorrhaged from the amount of possibilities that flew through it.
"You should have told him, `Oh, thank God it's finally over! At last, we can stop living in fear of you!' "
Mrs. B laughed.
"No, wait! You should have dropped to your knees, burst into tears and wailed, `Ohhhh no! Oh, dear God, no! Pleeease don't take away your donation! Please, please, pleeeeaaaaase! How can we possibly go on without all two hundred of your dollars?! Ohhh, our poor poor budget! We'll have to fire the staff!' "
" `And then who will let you check things out on their cards when you forget yours?' " Mrs. B added.
"`Oh, lordy lordy, what will we do? What WIIIIILLL we dooooooo?!!!' "