ME— Tri-Metro County Library
MR. CRAB (FORMER ANNUAL $200 DONOR AND THIRD GRUMPIEST OLD MAN IN ALL THE WORLD)— This is MR. CRAB. Could you please renew my book (SAYS NAME OF BOOK)?
ME— Sure. Can I have your library card number?
MR. CRAB— (Only mildly annoyed) Ohhhh. Let me get my wallet and I'll give it to you
MR. CRAB— Just a minute. I got too many pockets.
MR. CRAB— Well, here it is... The last few numbers are... (GIVES ME THE LAST FEW NUMBERS OF HIS LIBRARY CARD NUMBER) Is that right?
ME— I'm not sure. I'd need the whole number.
MR. CRAB— So you want me to give you this millionaire of a number here?
ME— Yes, sir.
MR. CRAB— (In a tone practically bristling with regret that he's already alerted us to the fact that he will be witholding his $200 annual donation this year due to some infraction on our part, preventing him from making that threat again at this juncture.) Okaaaaayyy...
(Mr. Crab reads me the entire number, but it sounds like it has too many digits. Nothing comes up. I try variations on it without as many zeroes as he gave me, but nothing is coming up.)
ME— Could you repeat that number? It's not coming up.
(I start him off with the first few numbers. He fills in the rest and I see that he'd inserted a nonexistent 3 in what he read to me originally. I renew his book.)
ME— There. I've got it renewed for you through the 17th.
MR. CRAB— (Not listening whatsoever) Well, that's the number I have here. Maybe I don't have the right card. I had two of them. And there's some other number written here, but I don't know what that is.
ME— No, I've already renewed it for you.
MR. CRAB— Maybe there's another card here, somewhere...
ME— (Louder) No, I've already renewed it for you.
MR. CRAB— You what?
ME— That's your card. I've got you right here on the screen and I've already renewed your book for you.
MR. CRAB— Oh, you did?
ME— Yes. Through the 17th.
MR. CRAB— (SAYS NAME OF BOOK IN SUSPICIOUS TONE, AS IF I MIGHT HAVE RENEWED AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT BOOK)
MR. CRAB— Oh. (Pause) Very good.
(One day I shall have to tell the story of the physical altercation Mr. Crab and I nearly got into at a wine and cheese reception we both attended.)