THE LIBRARY texted me: “Materials due soon.”
I was only on disc 13 out of 22 of the audiobook version
of John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany.”
Turns out you can’t renew materials when there’s a waiting list.
I am sympathetic –
I was on that waiting list a year –
but when there are 22 discs
and you have only a short commute to work,
it can take some time to get through.
I wrestled over this,
whether to keep the audiobook and pay the fine
OR return it and read the rest of the book the old-fashioned way.
After all, there are TWO copies on my bookshelf.
(Can you believe I waited a year when there were two copies in the house? I have no defense, Your Honor.)
Now that I’m completely hooked,
maybe I will pick up the actual book and read it.
B-u-t I don’t want to set myself up for failure.
so I decide to be a scofflaw.
I decide to keep the audiobook until I’m done with it and that’s that.
I drove to the library after work on Thursday to return it,
but the school next door was about to let out
and the street was crowded with people picking kids up
and there was traffic, which we never have here –
an honest-to-goodness 4 car back-up at the red light –
and all the parking was taken up by minivans.
I took this all as a sign to hold on to Owen a little longer.
When you are looking for a sign your choice is right,
almost anything will do,
have you noticed?
Owen has gone back.
Turns out 15 cents is the tipping point,
the deciding factor in whether to be a scofflaw or not.
The fine for overdue books is $.10/day,
but the fine for audiobooks is $.25/day.
And since, as a matter of policy,
I had already decided
if I was going to keep Owen Meany,
I was keeping him all the way to the end,
which could be another 2-4 weeks,
I was compelled to
return him let Wally return him
on his way to an evening meeting.
Owen wasn’t overdue even a single day.
Ten cents is one thing; 25 is another.
But it wasn’t the cost so much as
I couldn’t bear running up a fine that high
and having it be a matter of public record . . .
. . . in case I should ever run for public office.
All of this is my way of saying what a fabulous book this is.