A man runs into trouble trying to renew a library book
|Robert plunked down his library card and a well-worn copy of Catch-22. “I’d like to renew this,” he said.
The librarian passed the card under a scanner, looked puzzled, and tried again. “Did you check this book out properly?” she asked.
“It hasn’t been checked out.”
“But I checked it out.”
“Not according to the computer.”
“Well,” said Robert, “I still want to renew it.”
The librarian shook her head. “I’m afraid you can’t renew it if it hasn’t been checked out.”
“Then I want to check it out.”
“But you said you already checked it out.”
“And you saw where that got me.”
“Well,” said the librarian, “you can’t renew the book if it hasn’t been checked out. So if you want to keep it, the only option is for you to check it out.”
“Again? Even though ... oh, never mind. But just so you know, I really did check it out once. So this time, let’s both make sure the computer shows that I’m checking it out.”
“Very well." The librarian scanned Robert’s card and handed it back to him. Then she picked up the book, stared at its sad condition for a moment, and passed it under the scanner. “Oh,” she said. “I’m afraid you can’t check this out today.”
“It’s on a waiting list.”
“What?” Robert glared, incredulous. “This book has been around for, what, fifty or sixty years. What are the odds that more than one person would want it at the same time?”
“Nevertheless.” The librarian picked up the book and set it aside.
Robert stared for a moment, cursed under his breath, and headed for the door.