Friday, April 28, 2006

(Groucho) Marxist (John) Lennonism

When my mostly non-violent takeover of the library system is complete, I'll be instituting a new policy of absolute subjectivism in regard to the payment of library fines. This new regime will proceed by (loosely) enforcing our new core principles of more-or-less-instant karma, relaxed accounting, and basic human decency.

Some days it starts from the first few moments after we open up. Some reliable patron will come in and return a few books a few days late, and I'll just feel wrong about applying the seemingly trivial $0.10-per-day fine to such a good old friend of the library. Maybe 45 minutes later a dude who is definitely down on his financial luck will return some videos a few days late. I can tell that Blockbuster would probably turn him away for lacking proof of ID or a current credit card, so I'll cut him a break and while no one is looking I'll erase his fines. Later on, a family with six kids will return a mountain of stuff one day late, but rather than those ten cents adding up and equalling their gas money for a week, I'll just set the computer back a day and check their books in as if nothing was wrong.

So I'm an unpredictable Robin Hood of the library system. My generosity flows subjectively, though, as I was saying. If someone is a careless repeat offender, or someone's been holding on to a super-popular title for months, I'm not gonna be kind, and they're gonna get fined. If I don't like the looks of them, the fine stands. If they have confederate flag patches on their jacket or a "W" lapel pin, I'd triple their fines if I could. That's just me; I'm subjective. I mean, there are days when I would strictly enforce the ten cent fine on Albert Schweitzer if he showed up one day late with a medical text he'd been using to save thousands of third world lives. Some days I just feel like sticking to the letter of the law. Like most subjectivists, there are days where I just feel like being an iron-fisted objectivist, but the feeling rarely lasts long.

When some beleaguered mom appears genuinely amazed that her pile of one-day-late Dora the Explorer DVDs ($0.50-per-day fines) is going to set her back an Andrew Hamilton, I might just magnanimously shrug and send her off with a "Just be more careful next time, ma'am," like I'm a highway patrolmen letting a speeder get off with a warning. Then again, I've had people argue with me about their fines and accuse the library of getting rich by applying these ten-cents-a-day penalties. (I guess they must have noticed my Lexus in the parking lot when they returned those three-months-overdue "Ab Workouts for Dummies" videotapes.) All I'm saying is consider the benefits of instant karma, people, and tip your Circ. Clerks generously.


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