A Tale Worthy Of A Book

, , , , , , , | Right | August 3, 2021

My father has taken me to public libraries every weekend since I was almost three. It used to be a long walk, but I enjoyed looking at books. My schooling was in English and the books were in my first language, so I could not read much until about eight. The public libraries did not carry a lot of English books.

When I was about ten, we moved to a neighborhood where the public library was less than five minutes’ walk from my home. It was open for three hours in the morning and evening. Every evening, I would rush to the library soon after school. Usually, I would be there within five minutes of opening. Their usual practice was to set up periodicals first as evening newspaper readers would start coming in. Instead of waiting for them, I would just start dusting the kids’ section seats and turn on the lights and start my reading.

The librarian was the kind of man who just did not look approachable. I used to hear him being hard on people who had late returns or spoiled the books, and he used to be curt with my father when he joined me on Sunday mornings, so ten-year-old me was scared of this man.

Every day, fifteen minutes before the actual closing time, they would start announcements and ask people to vacate. The first few days, I just did not understand why someone would make me leave fifteen minutes early. And since I did not have a library card, I could not take my half-read books with me. I would simply put the book back and go back home. After a few days, the librarian must have silently observed my long face, because he started making announcements about closure only in other sections.

The housekeeper lady would just smile at me and leave the lights on just enough for me to read while they tidied up the rest of the place and did their closing activities. This gave me another ten minutes to read. Five minutes before closing, I would straighten the books in the kids’ section and join them in locking up. Very soon, in my head, I had become a part of their opening and closing team! Every Sunday, I would proudly walk in with my father as if I were taking him to my own place.

We lived in that house for about five years and I had read most of the books in the kids’, young adult, and basic science sections. The librarian, still curt and limited on words, had started to smile at me. He would simply point at new books and smile at my brightened eyes. If I missed going to the library, the housekeeper lady would be worried and ask why I had missed my routine. When we were moving, the librarian gave an additional borrower’s card to my father’s account and asked me to use it. We did not move far off and my aunt lived near the library, so I went back there at least twice a week.

The next year, when I turned sixteen, the librarian asked me to get my documents and registered me for my own borrower’s account and penned my name on my first-ever library card. That day was pure joy for me and him. During my college days, I would go there if I wanted some quiet place to study. He’d simply give me reading room keys and let me be. I knew the library layout very well and sometimes helped other patrons, too. When they closed for maintenance activities, I would join them for housekeeping tasks. They both knew they just couldn’t get rid of me!

Then, life happened. I moved places and lost touch with that library. The last time I was in that neighborhood, I saw a new librarian and heard that the old man had retired and they have smart cards now.

I still love books, all thanks to my dad, that silent librarian, and the sweet housekeeper lady. I still have that card with the librarian’s handwriting!

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There Is No Joy In Mudville

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 2, 2021

I have been playing baseball since I was about eight years old and this story takes place when I am eleven, in 1991.

There are a couple of league rules for our age group and the most important one is no cleating. For anyone unaware, this means that when you slide into base, you are not allowed to put your foot in the air with the spikes/cleats on the bottom of your shoe into the person guarding the base. You have to keep your feet down when sliding. Anyone that cleats will be kicked out of the game and suspended for other games or kicked from the league, depending on the infraction.

The season has just started, we’re only a few games in, and everyone is having fun. Today is the day my mom is volunteering at the concession stand, so she’s not down by the field watching my game. She can see us playing from where she’s at, but she can’t pay attention to all of the game since she’s helping people. My dad is working; he can’t be at the game at the start and will be around about halfway through.

The game is still pretty early, just starting the third inning. I’m put in to replace the pitcher. I take over the mound and there is a runner on third. The runner is the biggest kid in our league. He’s in sixth grade, but he’s already a good foot taller than most of us and weighs a good sixty pounds more than most of us, too. 

I strike out the first batter I go up against. Two more outs to end this inning.

The next batter hits a pop fly out to shallow right-center field. The outfielder comes in and makes the catch, and the runner on third tags up on the base and starts to run to home plate, but he holds up as the outfielder throws the ball to the catcher. Unfortunately, the throw from the outfielder is wide and the ball goes behind the catcher and rolls to the backstop. My job now is to help cover home plate. The catcher runs back to the ball, turns, and tosses to me. Because the throw to home plate was bad, the runner on third runs home in an attempt to score.

I’m now straddling the side of home plate, waiting for the ball to come to me so I can attempt to tag the runner out. I catch the ball and swing my glove down to make the tag, but the runner slides into home and cleats me. He ends up cleating my left arm, kicking my arm out of the way, and forcing me to drop the ball. At the time, it doesn’t hurt, and I turn around to take a few steps to where the ball landed. I go to scoop the ball off the ground with my glove, and when I try to turn my arm, that’s when the pain strikes me. I drop to the ground in agony, clenching my left arm.

One of the other parents runs up to the concession stand and gets my mom. She comes over with a bag of ice and we end up leaving for the ER to get x-rays.

About thirty minutes after my mom and I leave, my dad shows up and he sits in the bleachers and starts watching the game. After about fifteen minutes, he notices that he doesn’t see me on the field and asks one of the moms sitting near him where I am. The lady tells him what happened and that I left to go to the ER.

My dad looks at the lady, with a deadpan face, and asks, “Did he make the out?”

The lady is so upset with my dad’s lack of concern — because she doesn’t understand that he’s joking — that she punches him in the arm, actually leaving a bruise, and tells him he should be ashamed of himself. My dad tries to tell her he was joking, but she wants nothing more to do with him.

The kid that cleated me broke my arm, and he is never kicked out of the game or suspended for cleating. In fact, he never receives any kind of disciplinary action against him… probably because he is the kid of one of the coaches. The kid develops a bad habit of cleating others until someone gets tired of it and cleats the kid back.

X-rays show a fractured ulna, and because some strain is put on the ulna when you twist your forearm, I can’t just have a short cast put on. I have to have a full arm cast — from my hand to my bicep — for six weeks.

I spend the summer being unable to do most things — playing ball, hitting up the pool with friends, and wrestling. The upside is that my mom feels so bad for me that she takes my younger brother and me to an amusement park. I can ride some of the roller coasters, and as we stand in line for a ride, one of the employees sees me and asks why I am waiting in line and not using the handicapped entrance. He says I should be using that entrance and gives us a pass to use them. We get to bypass the long lines and I have a blast that day.

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Little Monsters Are Usually Raised By Bigger Ones

, , , , , , | Right | July 21, 2021

I work in a local jewelry shop and a mother approaches the counter with three small kids in tow. Our jewelry counter has an opening in the middle where our sales computer is. The mother is taking her time inspecting every piece of jewelry while her children are running wild, screaming and crying and wrestling with each other, and banging on our glass cases.

Me: “Excuse me, guys. You can’t wrestle in here. You could get very hurt.”

The small children get very shy and start to calm down. Mom at this point has finally selected the pieces she would like to put into layaway and I start explaining the process to her. I suddenly hear something fall over and it looks like one of the kids knocked over one of our displays. Thankfully, it was plastic but they still could get very hurt. I look at the mom and, of course, she isn’t watching her “things.”

Mom: *Texting on her phone* “Stop, guys.”

Me: “Ma’am, they could get very hurt. Could you please watch them just a bit closer? The display nearly fell on them.”

Mom: “Yeah, okay, sure. Just hurry up. I have somewhere to be at two.”

Clearly, she doesn’t care nor is she interested in the fact that her children are being little monsters. I’m trying my best to hold back my eye-roll and go to grab her paperwork. All I do is walk to the opposite end of the store where the printer is, and when I come back, the children are now behind the counter, banging on the cases, trying to open the doors to the jewelry, and throwing our smaller displays for rings and necklaces around. I’m in awe that this woman hasn’t even looked up from her phone to acknowledge the fact her kids are behind the counter.

Me: “You guys can’t be back here! Please go back around! Stop throwing those; they aren’t yours!”

Mom: “Don’t yell at my kids! I’ll have you know I chose to spend my money here and not at [Competitor], and they don’t yell at my kids! This is ridiculous! They probably wouldn’t be bored had you hurried up! We could be out of here by now!”

Me: “They can’t be back here trying to open our cases and destroying our property. They had already knocked down a display and I asked you to please watch them.”

Mom: “I want your manager, and I want compensation for the potential injury that could have happened to my children!”

I run to the back to grab my manager, who is also the owner, and explain the situation. She informs me that she has been watching behind the two-way mirror.

Owner: “Ma’am, I cannot allow this sale to happen. I have heard you just as well as seen you yell at my employee instead of at your rambunctious children. I have watched your children knock over our items and run behind the counter. I would like you to please exit our store.”

She walked out the door, leaving her children still in the store. She ended up coming back in and screaming for her kids to “get in the f****** car.” I’ve haven’t seen her or her kids again.

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Scooting Your Way To Internet Drama

, , , , , | Legal | July 14, 2021

Despite being illegal to use on paths in many parts of the country, electric scooters are really popular, especially with children. They are a bit of a hazard. Kids being kids have limited control, the brakes aren’t great, and they can go pretty quickly and are mostly made from un-padded steel.

I recently found out how dangerous they can be, as a child hit me at full speed, breaking several bones in my foot. The kid was unhurt but ran off when he saw me on the ground, leaving his precious scooter behind.

The police didn’t have the power to help me, and the school didn’t seem to want to help, so I took to social media with a picture of the scooter.

Me: “Are you a parent of a child that goes to [School]? Has your child come home missing this scooter? Then please let me know, as I have several broken bones and would love how you intend to apologise.”

I got a lot of comments, many from people who thought I was in the wrong, that I had somehow stolen this kid’s property — he left it behind and the police wouldn’t take it — that I was being dramatic — I couldn’t walk properly for months — and generally that I should get over it.

Eventually, I got a direct message from someone that could be the kid’s mother.

Kid’s Mother: “I think you have my son’s scooter. When can I collect it?”

Me: “I need to make sure it’s his. Why don’t you bring him down and he can apologise when he collects it?”

Kid’s Mother: “I’m not doing anything. Give me the scooter.”

Me: “Sorry, I need to be sure that it’s his. I will hand it in to the police if no one collects it this week.”

This led to several increasingly threatening and aggressive messages. I copied them down and handed them to the police. Now, with evidence, they could do something: they paid her a visit and warned her that if she contacted me again, it could mean jail time!

As for the scooter, I handed it in as “lost,” but no one collected it and it legally came back to me. It turned out to be worth a bit of money. I sold it and took the family on a short holiday once I finally healed.

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You Signed Up For Interesting Projects – Not Projectiles

, , , , | Right | July 9, 2021

I work in a hotel with themed rooms, including a fancy bunk room for the kids.

A hotel guest who knew their kid was feeling sick put them in the top bunk and let them projectile vomit everywhere. I had to get maintenance and management in to help me dismantle the beds completely to clean and sanitize them, all while I’m about four-and-a-half months pregnant.

I love my job and the people I work with but man that was not what I signed up for!

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