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September 16, 2008

A tale to chill your bones

September 16. Day 78.

Gather round, all you kids! We're going about to get really cozy for Spooky Story Hour. So grab a s'more, snuggle into your blanket and be prepare to be terrified as I tell you...

"The Tale of the Evil Library Guard"

It was an early autumn evening, just as classes were picking up again at Midmore University, and the literature department was hosting its annual Fall Party. This was a yearly tradition that students and professors both loved, and Roxy, a grad student back in town for a few days, didn't want to miss it.

As she wandered around campus, everything seemed familiar -- and yet it wasn't. The same concentration appeared on the faces of undergrads rushing around, but the faces themselves were different now. The traffic was just as bad as she recalled, but for a blessed change her car was not among those ticketed on Massachusetts Avenue.

At the party, Roxy talked with professors and students she'd missed, gave newcomers advice about teaching and career paths, and nibbled quality finger foods.

Time flew, and soon people started leaving. She too left, as we all eventually must, and on the way home she decided to stop by the library for a certain pressing need. It was a fateful decision, a decision that would forever change her life.

At the eerily familiar turnstile of the library she'd spent so many hours, she swiped her ID card, but the light flashed red. Of course! Her ID expired last term, and as an off campus grad student she didn't get a new one yet. Roxy approached the guard.

"Can I help you?" the guard snarled, staring at Roxy with a knowing gleam. Cloaked in a black uniform and seated at a very tall chair indeed, she reminded Roxy of a lady who used to babysit her and force feed her omelettes every morning, even though Roxy didn't like eggs. Only... eviler.

"Excuse me," Roxy asked. "I was wondering if I could just run in for a minute. I just need to use the bathroom. I don't need any books. I'll leave my bag here if you want."

"Why won't your ID work?"

"I'm still a student here, but my ID expired and I didn't pick up my new one yet. I just want to run downstairs. I actually really need --"

"You can't come in."

Roxy felt the blood draining from her face. Was it possible that this guard would stand between her and the place that was, at this moment, dearest to her in the world?

She summoned all the forces within her and asked again.

"Really? For thirty seconds? I'll leave everything here. My wallet, everything!" Had this guard been sent from the darkest bowels of graduate school to torment our plucky heroine? Would something embarrassing happen in the library lobby?

"I'm sorry, but I can't buzz you in with an expired ID. You can try the science center."

"That's ten minutes away!" A line was forming, and she lowered her voice. She didn't mean to cause a scene. But it was her only choice. "Please!! I'll do anything!! You can have my soul!!!

"I don't want your soul, you pitiful grad student, you!! There's only one thing I want! Give me your overdue library books! Now go away and don't come back without them! Mu ha ha ha!"

Gained: Confirmation that people who man the door at Midmore University libraries are CRUEL!!! This would never happen in California. Any Massholes -- I mean, Bostonians -- care to disagree? By the way, this was one of several askings today, but selected for the pure egregiousness of its denial.
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