When did the library become the equivalent of a Starbucks sans beverages?
I admit I’m old school about the library, a point of view that harks back to my days as a page (yes, you read that right) at the Port Chester (NY) Public Library, where i spent time after school and Saturdays shelving books.
It was always quiet there — and that was one of the things that made it such a refuge as I traversed the stacks from Morrison to Plath, Ludlum to Twain, returning all those delicious volumes to their homes before heading upstairs to test my Dewey decimal knowledge.
The library was also always full of characters — which was another point in its favor.
Late this afternoon, I worked at the library for a bit while waiting for Catherine’s choral concert start time, and was a little surprised to see that the people-watching that makes a visit to the library such an extra delight now has a soundtrack.
Blame the clicks and clacks of the laptop keyboards, the change machine for the copier, the exuberant exclamations of young children, and the dings and bings of a hundred unmuted cell phones.
And Mrs. Brown.
I’m calling her that because she was dressed, head to toe, in brown (and she wore a wedding band). I do not know if Mrs. Brown has a lovely daughter, but she has a patient friend.
Seated 10 feet from me at a computer terminal, Mrs. Brown was huddled on her iPhone having a friend help her with a website she’d pulled up on the screen.
Judging from the snippets of the overlong conversation I heard, I first thought she was filling out a job application or similar kind of form. She asked for help with every click and point of the mouse, and during one 3-minute space of time, asked at 10-second intervals, “Should I hit the space bar now? Should I hit the space bar now?”
I was mere moments away from loudly urging her to do so, when she finally moved on.
Dear reader, she was distracting enough that I finally peeked at the screen (you would have, too).
Apparently, this was all a Facebook emergency. After the friend heard and approved what she’d written and walked her through the “share” function, she printed something out, donned her brown coat and slipped away.
She was replaced in short order by a man dressed from head to toe in shades of gray.
I’m not joking.