Open/Closed

Yesterday a woman came in the door of my little library and said, “Your sign says Closed.”
I said, “That’s because we’re not open yet.” I let her stay anyway to use the Internet. She said she was from out of state and was just passing through.
“You’d never get this kind of service where I come from,” she said.
“Oh, well, this is a small town,” I said.
“I got fined $50 for using my library,” she said.
This didn’t sound good. “Overdue books?” I asked.
“Parking ticket!” she said. “I was so angry, I gave them hell.”
“The library gave you a parking ticket?” I asked.
This seemed to annoy her. “Well, it was the parking lot next to the library. As soon as I saw that ticket, I went back in that library, and I was out of control. I was an animal!”
An animal? What kind of animal? Why hadn’t I locked the door behind me when I came in? How did a crazy person from another state manage to find my little tiny library?
“An animal,” she repeated, “I was like an animal!” Thinking about it was making her angry. Let’s see, what did I learn in that “difficult people” workshop? Don’t let them corner you. I edged around her so that I was closer to the door.
“I’m not going to pay it! I’m going to contest it,” she said. That made it sound like it had just happened recently. Was she on a cross-country library petty crime spree? Was she going to print something from the Internet and then refuse to pay? What kind of animal would she become over 10 cents per page?

Just then here was a knock at the door. A group of preschoolers and their teacher had walked over, and were very politely knocking since the sign said Closed. Of course they could come in! Then a regular popped her head in and asked if there were any new magazines. Then a few more people showed up and I turned the sign around to Open, even though I wasn’t really yet.

The animalish lady from out of state didn’t print anything and left. The preschoolers left. Everybody left. It was finally time to open. I was all alone.

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