An unusual thing happened to me many moons ago.
I was in the first grade, things were going well, I was learning new things - life was beautiful. Until... until something changed.
One day, the teacher told us that we should go to the library and choose a book to read. I was quite surprised and felt that I was being pushed out of my comfort zone. I liked things the way they were, I did not need changes, I wasn't yet ready for new things. The teacher said that going to the library was mandatory, so I figured I'd give it a try.
The library was located on the other side of the school's building, where the elder children had their classes. It was uncharted territory for me, I avoided that area because I liked my little world and I knew that it had many things I hadn't yet learned. "Why expand the search area, when there's so much stuff to explore right here?", I asked myself.
My colleagues went to the library, some of them got back with books, no one died - it meant it was safe. Armed with that knowledge, I decided it was time to go for it.
The library was a new place for me, the shelves were brown, the smell of books was attractive. I am sure that I'm not the only one who likes old books, because they have this... specific vanilla flavour.
I observed what was happening and I saw that people had to sign up first. I waited for my turn and had a conversation with the lady in charge. She asked my name, the class I was in, and my address. "str. Scrisului Latin 6, 37", I told her. She was confused for a while, I heard some chatter with her colleague. "Proletarskaia", I said, thinking that she was looking for the old name of the street, perhaps their records were outdated? Yep, that was it! (Note: it is a street adjacent to the school)
After a few minutes, I was "in the system", as they'd say today... Another record in some paper-based database.
The lady said I could go and choose my book. So I took a look around and explored my options. Eventually I found the optimal book - the smallest, thinnest book, with text written in huge letters.
Many years later I learned that there's an official scientific name for that - "the path of least resistance".
In the same context - back in the first grade I had no clue about SQL or set algebra... but apparently what I did was the equivalent of SELECT * FROM books ORDERBY size ASC. Throw in a LIMIT(1) somewhere there and Bob's your uncle!
It was a selection of poems by Mihai Eminescu. The cover was white, black, gray, with some pink, with Eminescu's famous tree-face portrait.
I showed the book to the lady, she wrote something down and I was free to go. She told me I had 2 weeks to return it.
My memory is quite blurry, I don't remember anything from that book, but not because I didn't read it. I certainly did read it, or at least a sub-set of it. It is most likely that I did not comprehend what I was reading.
Empirical evidence gathered in high-school confirms that my brain was unable to understand the message encoded by authors who wrote about love and other complicated matters. Not much has changed since then, for even today I am not sure I really understand what they mean. Are you?
But I digress...
It took me less than two weeks to get done with it. I went back to the library, I returned the book. And it was good. It was a job well done, I walked out, knowing that the quest was completed, so I could focus on things I found interesting. Was it around the time dad bought our first computer? It could be! Maybe my mind was picturing shapes on the screen? Maybe I was imagining myself putting the tape inside the stereo and pressing the 'Play' button? Waiting for the little squares to fill the TV before I could play a game? Aaaah...
Days went by. One morning the teacher said she had an announcement for us. Apparently, some pupils did not return the books to the library, and that was bad. She said she had a list of names. "Poor people", I thought. Were they slow readers? Did they choose a book they could not chew? Haha! Surely, I must have been the only one clever enough to find the smallest, thinnest book with text written in huge letters! Really? There were several books of the same kind on that shelf, someone could easily find them - if they searched, of course.
She went through the list, at one point her lips and teeth and vocal chords were aligned in such a way that I had a temporary system failure. "Railean Alexandru", she said.
Oh no! That could not be possible! I returned the book. I RETURNED the book. The book was returned by me! A few days ago, I brought it back! If..
- I were drinking tea, I'd probably spill it all over my desk
- I were balancing on a chair, I'd probably fall on my back
- I were Wile E Coyote running on air, I'd realize there was no ground beneath my feet and fall down
You got the idea. The impossible happened. It was a disaster! I returned the book, how could that happen? I certainly brought it back, I remember it clearly - I put it on the shelf where I took it from. A confusion must have taken place.
I didn't know what to do.
Fortunately, some of the "criminals who did not return the books" brought them to school that day. They went to the library to return them. I joined them, and observed what was going on.
They entered the library, they went to the lady, they gave her the book, she took something out of it and put it somewhere, she gave them the book, they put the book on the shelf.
Let's see.... They:
- entered the library,
- went to the lady,
- gave her the book,
- she took something out of it and put it somewhere,
- she gave them the book,
- they put the book on the shelf.
- entered the library,
went to the lady, gave her the book, she took something out of it and put it somewhere, she gave them the book,
- put the book on the shelf.
What I am about to tell you now, is a description of the greatest, most secret and most successful plan in book-detective history! A conspiracy that even Mr. Bookman missed!
I waited for a moment when the library was crowded. Like an emotionless reptile, I lurked in the shadows, I waited like a cold-blooded killer.
I chose the moment. The one golden moment, the opportunity of the century, the planets were aligned in my favour. The universe was smiling at me, right then, right there!
I walked to the bookshelf like a cheetah runs after its prey, to capture it with its sharp teeth, because it is his. Only... I walked in a normal pace (that's how perfect the moment was), reached for the book, and took it. Because it was mine!
Sure enough, the little paper was in there. I was lucky no one else took it. I was truly lucky!
It was the perfect crime
I walked to the shelf, I took the book, I walked among the people who were there, I reached the lady's desk, I handed her the book. She opened it, extracted a little piece of paper, wrote something down in her paper-base, gave me the book and told me to put it back. "Of course", I said, then headed to the shelf - business as usual.
Let me emphasize one thing:
I walked to the book in plain sight, without thinking about all those witnesses. I was dumb/lucky enough to pick the same book which I put there earlier - because it was the book that contained my little paper, with my number/name on it. The librarian took it, the data matched. All went well.
The balance of forces in the universe was restored, the input matched the output, the debit matched the credit. "База не врёт".
My quest was complete, for real.
I wonder what would happen if someone else took my book, or if someone reshuffled them - so the one I picked the second time was not the same book I returned a few days ago... That could ruin my academic career. I wonder if I'd be teaching nowadays, had planets aligned differently back then, when I was a first-grader.
Since then, I don't really like libraries.
Moral of the story:
- It is quite likely that I was the only one clever enough to find the smallest, thinnest book, with text written in huge letters.
- The library's protocols are totally insecure. Cheaters can cheat, honest people can get busted for a crime they did not commit.
I was told also to take books from library in the first grade. And I liked so much that in the end of the year, I was donating books to library. This tradition happened for 5 years :)
Comment from: m [Visitor]
oh, the prefect read for the Saturday morning just before my own library crime. Since I’m still ousted, I’ll go borrow some books under false pretenses - with my friend’s library card. I wonder what imbalance in the universe am I about to cause. I admit I don’t dwell on this thought too much.
and even more off topic, one of the first library books I’ve ever read happened to be about a woman possessed by the devil. there was a dose of harder-than-soft porn in it, along with other confusing things. quite a transition from ‘The Little Prince’. I was nine. I’d got the book from the school library. and I was never the same again.
finally, something on topic, perhaps? this post was a fun read.
Comment from: gr8dude [Member]
I think you were the primary cause of the piracy incident in Somalia: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/02/19/somalia.us.yacht/index.html?hpt=Sbin
You better return those books ASAP :-)
Now, another on-topic remark, related to your first lib-book. The next story in the thriller series will feature naked people. Stay tuned.
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