Ah, it’s grand, driving around town to pick up books for the Newberry Library Book Fair. You get to see amazing old buildings, view fantastic apartments, and meet people you wouldn’t meet otherwise…at any price.
You meet people who forget what day they said they’d meet you at the storage locker. You meet people who haven’t quite decided which books to give you, and ask won’t you please just wait while I go through book by book and make up my mind. You meet people who ask you to call them but hang up if a man answers because Dad doesn’t know we’re cleaning out his books. You meet people who once planned to corner the market in old Life magazines, but forgot that corner of the basement gets damp every spring.
You meet people who ask you to PLEASE use the servants’ entrance and stairs, but not today, as newspaper would have to be put down first. (She could control the soil on her servants’ shoes, but library volunteers were another matter.) You meet people who are being evicted for nonpayment of rent and regard you as one of the tools of oppression for taking their books away.
And I wonder sometimes why we’re down to just two pick-up drivers.
Still, there are friendly and sympathetic souls like the woman who, on a hot, sticky day, asked if the man from the Newberry wouldn’t like a cold glass of lemonade. He says he didn’t realize until he sipped it that her definition of a glass of lemonade was a tall glass of bourbon with ice and a slice of lemon.
“What did you do?” I asked him.
He stepped back, shocked. “It would have been rude to refuse it!”
You meet all kinds of people.