Miscellaneous

You’re No Friends of the Library; Or, Why I Won’t Be Attending Any More Library Book Sales

Warning: Rant Incoming!
My library has a “Friends of the Library” program, and once every sixth months or so, they hold a book sale. Everything’s in good condition, though I find a lot of it to be rather overpriced. I mean, you wouldn’t think that $1 per hardcover is expensive by any standard, but every other library in the county does “fill a bag for $2” deals… so $1/book feels like I’m getting ripped off when I could go to the next town and get the same book for a dime. But the children’s books are only a quarter, so I usually end up leaving with a bag full of them. Not this time.

I was a little miffed when I walked into the room this weekend and found that the price of the children’s books had doubled since the last book sale. No big deal, though; it just means I was going to have to be pickier than usual. Instead of filling up a bag, I’ll just get a couple. Because, frankly, I don’t feel like a ten-year-old book of less than 150 pages is worth a half-dollar, especially when I’m unemployed. So I ended up turning down the collection of Nancy Drew books I wanted to grab, as well as a bunch of Hardy Boys and Animorphs books. I ended up with a stack of eight; six children’s chapter books and two middle grade. Time to pay.

Now, the Friends of the Library as a group seems to be comprised entirely of curmudgeonly old folks. I have never once been to a Friends of the Library sale when the person sitting at the desk was friendly or polite. They’re gossipy and rather rude. They barely acknowledge your presence most of the time. They are absolutely the worst people you could have at your charity sale, because they clearly don’t care about the event or the cause. They want to talk to their friends, and they don’t bother to hide the fact that they feel like the customers are just interrupting their conversations.

As such, going up to that desk must always be prefaced by a temper-check. These people specifically and explicitly discriminate against younger people, their attitudes obviously changing from lukewarm to cold when an older patron steps aside to reveal a younger one. Apparently, anyone younger than thirty is just a hoodlum, and we certainly can’t be readers. So I always expect to walk away feeling rather slighted. But after their attitudes this go-around, I will never again be attending one of these events.

When I got up to the desk, there was a middle-aged woman paying for her books. The two elderly women behind the desk were mostly ignoring her, content to disregard her existence while they gossiped. When she left, I stepped up to the desk; I put my books down on the table and told them what I had: “Eight children’s books.”

Everything was silent. For a moment, I assumed they were just ignoring me. Perhaps the latest gossipy tidbit had simply been more interesting. Except, no, they were staring at the two middle grade books at the bottom of the pile. And in the snottiest, most accusatory voice you can imagine, one asked, “Those are children’s books?”

Of course, I was baffled… and a little pissed. Didn’t I just say those were children’s books? So when I repeated that they were indeed children’s series, there was a noticeable edge of anger in my voice. But apparently I don’t look particularly trustworthy, because the second woman starts reading the series titles of the books, as if somehow she thinks she’s going to catch me in a lie. But they’re satisfied at that point, and she goes back to gossiping; as she does so, she pulls up the cash box and opens it.

I’m waiting for her to look back up at me so I can hand her my money, but she doesn’t. She just sits there, talking to her friend about god-knows-what while I’m trying to hand her a five. And then, still staring down at the cash box, what comes out of her mouth but, “I don’t have any money in my hands; I guess she didn’t give it to me.”

I am literally standing in front of this asshole trying to hand my money to her–and I can’t because she won’t fucking acknowledge that I’m there–and then she has the absolute gall to remark to her friend, right in front of my goddamned face, that I have apparently been so rude as to neglect to hand her my money.

You have no idea how much I wish I’d left the books on the table and walked away, but frankly, I was too stunned. I have never met such a disrespectful “cashier” in my entire life. This woman is assigned to work the desk at a library’s fundraising event, and she can’t even be bothered to stop running her fucking mouth long enough to treat her customers with any semblance of respect. But, like I said, I was simply stunned. I gave her the money and left.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was leaving that I realized the implications of what had just happened to me. I made an unnecessary trip to my local library in order to offer it a bit of financial support, and I was accused of stealing. This woman honestly had the gall to imply that I was attempting to steal adult fiction books by pretending they were kidlit. If that realization had sunk in while I was still in front of her, everyone in that room would have gotten to hear exactly what I thought of her abysmal “service”.

Needless to say, I will not be subjecting myself to that anymore. Their attitudes at these fundraisers have been getting increasingly rude for years, but this crosses a line for me. I don’t think I’ve ever been insulted like that in my life, and I don’t intend to ever give those people another cent of my money.

They can keep their snooty bullshit to themselves, and I’ll be in the next town over–where the books are significantly cheaper and the people act like functional humans.

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