Our special on fines, “You bring the roll, we’ll pay the toll” is in full swing at the Public Library. We thought this was a neat and easy way to excuse fines for our patrons. We also thought we were very specific as to explaining how the event worked and what we could accept as payment. I think we need to think again. My first experience was with a thirty-something guy. He came up to the circulation desk carrying roll of gift wrapping paper.
He laid the roll of purple and yellow paper with pink and red hearts on the counter and said: Here, I would like to pay my $5.00 fine.
Me: Could I have your library card so I can look up your information on the computer?
Guy: I didn’t bring my library card.
Me: Of course you didn’t, nobody does when they come to the library. Then could I have your driver’s license for identification?
Guy: Really? I don’t think I even have to show my drivers’ license to vote.
A couple of replies to that statement came to mind, but I didn’t say them out loud. The guy pulled out his wallet and found his driver’s license behind “you know what.” Thankfully he set it on the desk close enough so I could see his information without me having to actually touch his license. I typed in his name. After the computer took what seemed like forever to find his information the guy started to tap the roll of wrapping paper on the circulation desk. A couple of thoughts came to mind as to what he could do with the roll of wrapping paper but I didn’t say them out loud either. Finally his library card information came up on the screen.
Me: Yes sir, you do have a $5.00 fine.
Guy: Yeah, I know. I was late with some DVDs because I got called out to the oil rig in the middle of the night and had to sleep the whole next day and didn’t get them back on time. My girlfriend was going to drop them off for me but she had morning sickness really bad. So here is my roll of paper for my fine.
Me: Sir, you need to bring a roll of a paper product for each dollar you owe.
Guy: This roll is the length of 5 rolls of toilet paper. I measured.
Me: It doesn’t work that way. Besides the roll of paper has to be in its original wrapping.
Guy: What do you mean? This is wrapping paper.
Me: No, I mean the roll should still be sealed in the original plastic wrap and unopened.
Guy: So, I used just a little bit of it to wrap my girlfriend’s Valentine’s day gift last year. So what is the big deal? Most of the paper is still on the roll.
Me: Well, we have to make some restriction or people would just bring us partially used rolls of toilet paper or paper towel.
Guy: Really? People would do that?
Me: Believe it or not, people would do that.
Guy: So are you saying I can’t pay my fine with this roll of wrapping paper?
Me: I am sorry; sir, but we cannot accept one roll of opened wrapping paper for your $5.00 fine. For example, you could bring in an unwrapped 4 pack of toilet paper and 1 unwrapped roll of paper towel.
Guy: I only buy paper towel in two packs. If I brought in a two pack would I get a dollar in change?
Me: Well, no. We would hope you would just be willing to donate the extra roll to the homeless shelter.
Guy: And really, who would buy 1 roll of toilet paper? Does toilet paper even come in single rolls? With all the Mexican restaurants in town I doubt there is one person in this whole town that buys toilet paper one roll at a time.
The guy picked up his roll of wrapping paper, tapped it quite forcibly on the circulation desk, pointed it into my face and said: I’ll be back.
I hoped I would be at lunch if he did come back. But before I could leave for lunch a young mother with two little boys came up to the desk with an unwrapped 9 pack of toilet paper.
Mother: I would like to pay the fines on my son’s cards.
I scanned their library cards and there was a $4.50 fee on each of the little boys’ cards.
As I begin to open my mouth to explain the $1 per roll concept and that there was no 50 cent deals, the older brother pulled a book off the New Books shelf and hit his little brother on the head. The little brother let out a blood curdling yell. The older brother dropped the book on the floor and kicked it. The mother tried to grab a boy with each of her hands, but they took running in opposite directions.
I grabbed the package of toilet paper and said: “Ok, fine. And have a nice day.”
After my lunch break, the thirty- something guy came back carrying a Walmart bag. I was silently praising myself for successfully getting the point across to him. The praise was premature.
He took out two rolls of toilet paper wrapped in the Valentines wrapping paper and said: Here
I started to open my mouth, but before I could say anything he said:” Before you say anything. These are Charmin double rolls so that is $4.00. I figure the fact that I wrapped each roll with curly ribbon is worth another dollar. Ribbon is technically paper, it is rolled, it counts.
Me: Ok, fine!