Spending time at the public library lately has reminded me of three facts:
- I still enjoy libraries. Padding around softly, looking at books, finding desks in quiet corners. It’s all my idea of a party.
- Other people tend to have much LOUDER ideas about how to enjoy libraries than I do. These ideas often include conversation and crunchy foods.
- Librarians don’t use their special shushing privileges nearly enough. Why become a librarian if not to shush people?
A couple weeks ago, I was quietly minding my own business across from the library’s computer area when a man sat down at a Mac and proceeded to chatter to a nearby friend for what seemed like four hours. In the spirit of compromise, I am willing to allow that it might have been closer to 30 minutes.
On the man’s mind and boldly mixed in his conversation were two strains of story that, to me, did not seem to go together at all. Like simultaneously decrying global warming and your neighbor’s new bouffant hairdo, where the mention of one tends to diminish the perceived seriousness of the other.
At the time, I found this man and his constant stream of chatter irritating: A distraction from the meaningful work I was trying to accomplish.
The next day, I discovered that the experience had left a song in its wake, the writing of which was… to me, anyway… a meaningful work. And certainly something I never would have thought to embark upon without the previous day’s irritation.
Living among people: Sometimes irritating, but occasionally worth it.
I’m afraid I don’t share our boisterous library patron’s enthusiasm for the filmography of a certain actor, and some of my derision may have shown up in the lyrics. Rest assured, Mr. Affleck, that the man in the library was nothing but wildly, improbably complimentary of everything you’ve done, even as his own life collapsed around him.
For comedic effect, I may also have exaggerated the extent to which his life was collapsing around him.
Still, there was a definite mismatch. Trust me on this, Ben.
And please don’t talk loudly in libraries. It’s discourteous.