Known By Name.

26 May, 2010 § 1 Comment

I experienced a bit of a classic “first” this morning. Let me set a little context first: I had decided it would be wise to use up some of the surplus vacation hours I’ve compiled over the past 11.8 months before the new fiscal year rolls around and I simply lose that paid time off – – so last night, I contacted my dear friend, Ai, and asked her if she’d be up for a bike ride today. She agreed; I set my alarm in time to get up and drink a cup of coffee before we set off; and then promptly hit the sack around midnight.

Today’s alarm broke into the week with a burst of bird song and beating sunshine and our spirits were high as Ai and I swung our legs over the frames of our borrowed bikes and set out on the open road. Since neither of us have biked a good deal in the recent past, the first several yards were definitely, err, a little on the wobbly side, but we soon got the hang of it and our cycling straightened out in time to our increased conversation.

Several miles, one dead possum and a few friendly hand-waves from passing cars later, we arrived at our destination: the next town over’s local library. (Please keep in mind that while I am on first name basis with the head librarian (dear woman) and several of the other volunteer staff, there are still a few folks I’ve never seen or talked to before). The gray-haired matron sitting behind the counter this morning fell into the latter camp of librarians I’ve not yet had the joy of schmoozin – – I mean, talking with (ahem) – – so I was eager to strike up a conversation with her. After browsing the new book section and the rotating collection in the back room, one of the library’s lesser known but solid resources for finding hidden literary gems, I approached the desk with a mere two books in hand.

“May I see your library card?” were the first words out of her mouth, accompanied by a somewhat stern glance over the top of her delightfully stereotypical bi-focals. Shoot, I thought to myself, somewhat absent-mindedly patting my back pocket several times over in case I had miraculously remembered to bring my card with me. I hadn’t, of course, so several flurried moments later, I grinned in a sheepish yet endearing (humble cough) fashion, and replied with a laugh, “O, I seem to have forgotten it on my way out the door this morning… but did I mention I rode my bike here?”

She, on the other hand, was clearly unimpressed with my environmentally-friendly ways nor with my affable body-language. Her silvery brows lowered, her wrinkled fingers tapped impatiently on the counter-top, and then, heaving a long-suffering sigh, she said, “Well, I suppose I can make an exception this time.” She paused, and then commanded, “Name, please.”

And this, dear friends, is when the classic moment began. I told her my last name and quickly began to spell it out as well, figuring I’d try one more time to get on the dragon’s good side by making her orthographical task a slightly easier one. Before I could even make it to the third letter, however, she interrupted me with a dramatically transformed, beaming countenance. “Ellie?” this stranger as of four minutes ago exclaimed. “Is that you?”

Yes. Apparently my die-hard bookworm reputation has successfully preceded me there, to the extent that volunteer librarians in their late sixties who only work the desk once a month know me by first name… and I love it. If I had to place a bet on it, I’d say the culprit was probably that last order of 30+ books I sent winging its way through the interlibrary loan system; I’ve heard that’ll do the trick every time.


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