On Saturday, February 3rd, my husband and I had just finished reading a review in the latest AARP(American Association of Retired People)magazine, of Jane Mirren's fine performance in "The Queen," now showing at theatres all over and earning justifiably wonderful critiques.
In the article, I was reminded of Mirren's other performances, particularly those in the PBS series, "Prime Suspect," and realized that we only had about 15 minutes to run over to the wonderful Katy Geissert Public Library, just a few miles away from our home in Lomita. Sure that we could make it, we drove as fast as the law permitted, and raced into the building just as the clock struck 5:20 pm. I ran over to the closest library employee, still behind the checkout counter, and asked, "Where's your audio-visual section?" "Downstairs," a bespectacled young man directed us.
We flew down the stairs, my husband, as always, the athlete, slightly ahead of me. As we approached the bottom of the stairs, two young women appeared in front of us, looking as if they were about to leave for the evening. Suddenly, a young woman with dark-brown curly hair, with a tri-colored winter scarf thrown around her neck, darted over to join the two other women, and she immediately raised her hand to the light switch in front of her and turned off the lights on the floor. "Hey," my husband protested, we just want to get a couple 'Prime Suspect' videos--it's only 5:20." Th curly haired woman with the oversized scarf replied, "I'm closing the floor ten minutes early." My husband continued to the last step, sure that he would be allowed to quickly scoop up a couple videos--after all, the young man with glasses upstairs was waiting for our return. And after all, this was a library, for heaven's sake, not a museum! Libraries, as both my husband and I have known since childhood, are one of those places, like home, where, even if you're a little later than you thought, the doors are still open.
Without another word of explanation or an expression of regret at having to disappoint us, the scarf said, " I need for you to leave this floor, or I will call Security." We couldn't believe what we were hearing. This is a library, and we still have ten minutes. We aren't here to rob you, we're taxpaying citizens of nearby Lomita with Torrance library cards who just want to check out a couple PBS videos.
"What?!" my husband exclaimed. "Security? Look, it's 5:20, and all we want is two Jane Mirren videos."
The scarf spoke again, with a toss of its wide curly hair, "I need for you to leave this floor or I will call Security."
"Well, go ahead, call Security! I just want to check out a couple videos!" my husband fired back angrily. At which point, with my jaw opening to the scene that was unfolding, said, "Let's get out of here, Joseph! I thought this was a library. I guess we made a mistake!" Even as I spoke those words, the scarf headed out of sight, presumably to sound the alarm. We exited quickly and angrily. It was 5:25. In the time it had taken the scarf to threaten us, we could lhave checked out the videos. But at that moment, neither my husband nor myself wanted anything more than to exit what we thought would be a welcoming place--a library.
I've always said that librarians and pharmacists are among the best people on the planet. After our encounter with the oversized scarf, I just might have to scratch librarians from that sentiment...
Resident of Lomita
Card-carrying member of Torrance Libraries