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Students?! Reading?! Preposterous!

, , , , , | Working | January 25, 2022

Undiagnosed ADHD and mild autism in a generally apathetic environment made me a very socially awkward child. In middle school, I would often spend my fifteen-minute morning break curling up in a beanbag in the library, engrossed in a book as big as I was. As such, the school librarian was one of my closest adult allies, partly because she loved to see a kid enjoying reading, and partly because I didn’t feel bad talking to her a little about the books I read, since she was paid to be there, unlike friends and family members who received no benefit from putting up with me.

One year, the librarian gave me special permission to check out books from the back room, where students were technically not supposed to be. There were no illicit materials or anything similar; it was just a storage space for seldom-used tech equipment and less popular books. The only books from the back room I was interested in were a long novel series that was nearly impossible to find anywhere else, so I couldn’t believe my luck.

Enter the school’s technology teacher. She was the principal’s wife, which I suspect is the only reason she was able to keep her job despite being generally disliked by everyone in the school. Her husband was a great principal and I have great respect for him, but she was the embodiment of every old church busybody stereotype.

One fateful morning, she saw me exiting the storage room with a new book.

Tech Teacher: “What are you doing? Students aren’t allowed back there!”

Me: “I got special permission from the librarian.”

Tech Teacher: “You can’t be back there!”

Me: “The librarian said I could.”

Tech Teacher: “But students aren’t allowed in the storage room!”

Me: *Holding up the book* “I’m trying to read this whole series, and it’s impossible to find it anywhere else. No one else reads it, so I got special permission to check it out.”

Tech Teacher: “But you can’t be back there!”

She continued in this vein as I scanned barcodes to check the book out and promptly fled the library, praying she wouldn’t follow me. She didn’t. I wonder what she’d think of me now, getting a degree in English and writing to work in the fiction publishing field.

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