Today was a rare day… a day just for ME! Well, kind of… more like a couple of hours in the afternoon but hey, I’m a Mom, I’ll take what I can get, right? Big Sister had her annual talent show at school this morning and while I tried to make it work for me to go to work AND make it to support her, logistically it just wasn’t going to happen so I took the whole day off at the last minute. Our amazing nanny spent the day with Little Sister as planned which meant that after I got home from the talent show at noon, I had five glorious hours to do whatever I wanted.
I filled the first hour with a good lunch and a chat with the nanny who it feels like I haven’t talked to for ages except for snippets of instructions and reports as we pass each other in the morning and evening. The plan for the afternoon was a seven mile run which I had plenty of time for and which I was going to do outside. Until I was all dressed and ready to go and realized that was the wind howling in the eaves and banging against the windows I was hearing and decided it would be miserable. So, I changed my running gear configuration for the indoor apparel and headed for the gym instead. Still on schedule for a great two hours to be spent with my current audio book on the iPod and a treadmill followed by a relaxing “soak” in the sauna.
That was the plan, anyway. What actually happened only slightly resembled that plan. I stretched, I warmed up, I was stoked for the run, the iPod was going, I was already anticipating the endorphins and the joy that comes with running and the smile to hit my face… and then I ramped up the treadmill and immediately was wincing in pain. No matter what I did, my knees were both killing me with every step and I couldn’t run through it like I usually can after the first few minutes. I was limping and I knew it would never happen, and actually shouldn’t or I was asking for an injury. So I struggled through a mile – because I can’t sync my run with Nike and publish it to Facebook without at LEAST a mile, right? – and threw in the towel. Well, I could still sit in the sauna – which I did and that was amazing but I felt like I was wasting my valuable time when I could be doing something different. So, I grabbed my mid-afternoon snack in the cafe with a book I just happened to have tucked into my gym bag because you never know when you might need a book.
But the music at the gym is loud and piped in everywhere. I couldn’t concentrate on my book. My mind started wandering and thinking about how appealing tucking myself into a quiet corner of somewhere – anywhere – and just reading for an hour sounded. Decadent, actually. But where?
The library! I’ll go to the library!
Actually, the first thought was a coffee shop but how insane is it that there isn’t a single coffee shop between the gym and the library which is a ten mile drive? So, the library it is.
I don’t know about you, but the library in my mind evokes images of hushed and whispering old ladies and plastic covered books being checked out; images from childhood of my mother and every other adult around me shushing me if I even thought of raising my voice to a normal pitch instead of the whisper required for the hallowed halls of the library. A soothing and peaceful hour with a good book in that kind of space was exactly what I was craving.
What I got was a big slap in the face of reality.
Know what I found at my neighborhood library? People who didn’t give a shit that they were in a library. People who were talking to each other like they were in the aisle at the Walmart or worse, their own kitchens. People who were NOT instilling in their offspring any reverence for the building they were inside of – when you are talking to your child in a loud inside voice from halfway down the aisle, they aren’t going to think anything of using their outside voice to answer you. I had the audacity to shush one little boy – approximate age 4 – and he glared at me with daggers shooting from his eyes. I smiled with my finger against my lips while his Dad – who had pulled his head out of the computer screen he’d been sucked into most likely by the absence of noise from his snot-nose little brat – said “Carter, she’s just asking you to be quiet in the library.” To which the lovely Carter responded – loudly – “I don’t like being quiet” and ran off. Minutes later the same twosome could be heard playing their version of Marco Polo through the stacks because Dad couldn’t find Carter and apparently Carter was now scared that he’d run away and couldn’t see Dad anymore. At the same time, the reference desk, which was about 20 feet from the chair I’d picked because of the low height of it’s seat in relation to the floor for added comfort appeal for my short legs, was manned by a woman of the appropriate old lady hair variety but without the appropriate library tone to match. She was having a conversation with a co-worker that had nothing to do with the library and which sounded more like gossip than a conversation and they were talking so loud that I actually found myself shushing THEM. When they didn’t notice, I left the area in search of somewhere a bit more out of the way.
Location number two I should have known better than to pick but when I approached the kids corner with the love sacks all deserted and beckoning with it’s quietness, I couldn’t resist. That comfy spot lasted all of about five minutes until the idiot mother with her five kids in tow herded them all to the area to talk – LOUDLY – about all the books they had picked and review their selections before heading to the checkout desk. I might have mumbled some obscenities under my breath as I leaped up and headed for another corner. I don’t quite remember, but I hope I did!
Location three lasted a bit longer – it was a nice, quiet corner with an equally aged adult, her books sprawled across a table, clearly and intently studying and lost in thought. I sat down, got comfy, got engaged in my book, and then there was a dog lose in the library. I kid you not. A. DOG. And of course the dog ended up with me, don’t ask me why. He must have sensed that I was looking for some peace and viewed me as a kindred spirit. After the workers collected the dog – but not before they sat next to me trying to read the tags and made a LOT of noise – I had another few minutes of somewhat quiet where the din of the library patrons was only slightly intruding on the edges of my hearing.
And then the baby started crying.
And by crying, I really mean wailing – at the top of it’s lungs.
And didn’t stop for what seemed like ten minutes.
Enough that the other girl sitting there with her sprawled books trying to study turned to me in disgust to say “so much for a quiet library!” (So see, I’m not over exaggerating here!)
At that point, I officially threw in the towel and headed back home to mom-land… where I proceeded to make certain that Big Sister knows that she is always supposed to be quiet in a library and can expect to be shushed and beaten if she ever isn’t. Did I miss a memo somewhere that states since the majority of people are now all loud Americans who never know when to shut our pie holes that we are no longer required to do so at the library? Or was it just an off day at my neighborhood branch? I guess it doesn’t really matter because next time I will drive out of my way to find that quiet coffee shop instead regardless of how inconvenient.
Thank you, today’s library patrons, for ruining the library for me as anything more than a place to walk in, pick up a hold from the shelf and leave. The craziest part? The teenagers in the ‘booths’ at the back were the best ones in the joint! All you adults should be ashamed of yourselves!