I use the library in waves. I had 2 or 3 months this winter when I didn’t use it at all, just because I had this stack of books to get through (still do) and was avoiding novels. Now I’m seeking avoidance, so I’m going to the library a couple times a week, to get novels with which I can avoid life. (yay for vampires! and they seem to be in fashion among writers lately, because there is an unending supply of vampire novels around.)

So the first time I went to the library after my 2 or 3 month absense, I asked if I had fines to pay. I was pretty sure I did. I like to think of it as my little way to support the library, rather than being unorganized. It was $1.40, not a big deal.

It just so happened that I checked my account a week or two later – well within the 3 week check-out period of the first set of books I’d checked out after my long absense – and damn if I didn’t have fines listed against my account. $1.40. One extra click, and it was clear these were fines accrued in February.

Yeah, the same fines I’d just paid. Now, $1.40 is far from breaking my bank, it was just the annoyance. I’d asked them about the fines, and she’d acted surprised I was asking and wanting to pay them. That is odd enough, to me. I could go months without actually looking at my account – I tend to look only when I’m putting something on hold and then when I want to check the queues. So theoretically I could go months with these fines on my account, which is somewhat silly. Why not tell me right away that I have fines?

Well, whatever, I’d asked, and I’d paid them. Except the person took my money and didn’t put it against those fines. It really isn’t the money, it is the principle of the thing.

Today when I checked out books (I haven’t mentioned the fines to the people who have been checking books out for me since then, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to just pay the fines again and ask for confirmation that they put it against my account, or what), the woman mentioned the fines. I sort of mumbled “yeah, and the thing is I already paid those…” Right away she just took the fines off my account, saying “well, they’re just $1.40, so it is no problem…” in a way that made me feel like a cheap ungrateful library patron.

But the thing is, I paid those damn fines already! I’d have paid them again, but you can see this stretching out into infinity….the $1.40 charge for checking out library books, no matter if you pay the fine or not.

If I’m completely honest with myself, I think the real reason it annoyed me is that it forced that one extra bit of interaction with people at a time when I find the basics draining me of energy. And me, an extrovert. Well, I didn’t ever claim to make much sense.