So I’m doing a novel with my ESL class: the simplified version of John Grisham’s “The Runaway Jury.” Now I do not care for John Grisham at the best of times, and the Penguin Reader version was feeling a little dry to me this morning, so I thought I would wander across the street to the library (I work RIGHT ACROSS from the library!) and see if I could pick up the unabridged version. I thought it would be cool for my students to see the longer book, and if any of them are interested (this is a high-functioning crowd) they could compare the two versions.
Plus, any excuse to go to the library is good. Really now.
My new office is on the second floor, which means there’s a walkway right across the road and you can enter the library on the second floor, in the kids section. There was a sign on the door that said “+15 Access Ends Here” (Plus 15 is what we call our system of over-the-road walkways – an absolute godsend in winter, let me tell you.) Anyway, I read the sign, but I thought it meant that you couldn’t go any further than the library (as if anyone would want to). Besides, the door swung open for me so it wasn’t as if the access was barred or anything.
On the other side of the door was a commissionaire (I don’t know how to describe commissionaires to you non-Calgarian readers: they’re usually seniors and they wear uniforms and they help you out when you get lost and also they man parking booths and stuff – usually they’re super nice and always dependable, if occasionally a little hard of hearing.) She asked me where I was going and I said to the library, and the lady just started lecturing me. “You can’t get to the library through here, love,” she said, “Didn’t you read the sign?”
I explained that yes, I had actually read the sign, and the sign says nothing about the library entrance being closed.
“Well, the only thing you can get through to is the theatre, and you’d KNOW if you were going there, wouldn’t you, love?” By this time the “love” thing was really starting to get up my nose – believe me, I am no one’s love – and I felt like I was being bawled out for making an honest and completely harmless mistake.
Now I am not an arguer, in fact I usually go to great lengths to avoid arguments, but I found myself somehow stuck in the plus fifteen OUTSIDE THE LOCKED LIBRARY DOORS arguing about semantics with a British commissionaire. And finally, finally, I just turned around and walked away. I may have said “Oh, EXCUSE ME” in a voice that was dripping, as it were, with sarcasm (because I was trying to get to the library, for Pete’s sake, I was not trying pay an unannounced visit on the queen or anything).
And people, it pissed me off so mightily that once I had made my way downstairs and through the main entrance, I had completely forgotten about John Grisham and had to go sign myself out some knitting books just to calm down.
It was almost enough to put me off libraries forevermore.