Paying Your Dues

Paying Your Dues

I’ve started going back to the library. I know, it’s strange for a writer to admit having stopped going in the first place. But I did, and here’s why: I am the type of person late fees are designed for. Very few trips to the library begin without me standing at the customer service desk to pay off my nicely accumulated account balance.

You see, I go in with the honest intention of getting only a book or two. The non-fiction books are all arranged according to subject, though. While I’m looking up one, I’ll grab two or three others that look interesting.

Fiction sections are just as dangerous. Even if I don’t wind up with a few by the same author, while I’m looking for the one I came in for, I’ll see some catchy title or cover art or something else, and hey presto! On top of the stack it goes.

When I leave, I’m lucky if it’s with a minimum of five books. Now, this would not be a problem if I got them all back on time. But I don’t, I admit it.

I start off well enough; I read the books, and then I return them. If a reference book has made its way into my book bag, though, I’m pretty much doomed. Flipping through these books is a great way to check them out before I buy one, so it’s a habit I’ve gotten into. Unfortunately, there isn’t the same sort of built-in timer with them.

I don’t tend to read reference books from cover to cover. I mean, a style guide or dictionary really just isn’t designed for that. This means that I tend to keep them around for a while, which tends to lead to those nice “by the way” e-mails. Those usually lead to a renewal, which of course means that I have a second chance to accumulate more overtime.

Anyway, by the end of it, I’ve got fines. So, every now and then it’s just better for my bank balance if I avoid the temptation of the library all together. It doesn’t last; I always wind up going back.

If nothing else, though, I can console myself with the fact that my late fees are helping to support something that I love.

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