In March of 2010, I released my discovery of one of the great rules of physics, that everything is a quarter of an inch off. I believe the Nobel Committee has lost my address or I’d have heard about my medal by now.
I have not changed my mind about that (or about its corollary, that if you allow for that quarter inch, the thing will be a half an inch off, maintaining your necessary one quarter inch error.) But I thought I should pass along a few mores of the things I have learned on my way from August to July in pursuit of a Book Fair.
1. When trying to slide a box that will just fit between two other boxes, it will not slide down straight, but will tip.
2. The most valuable disc in a box of records will be put at the very end of the box, where the weight of the other records will break it.
3. If you pick up a rare 78 RPM record, it will be cracked. If it does not look cracked when you pick it up, it will break in your hand. (auxiliary rule: throwing the broken pieces across the room will not make them go back together)
4. Never throw away a book in front of the person who brought it in. This is true even if the person who brought it in is not the owner, or related to the owner. A volunteer who has just hauled in three boxes of Chemistry textbooks will get just as upset watching them dumped
5. If you make the phone call NOW, you will not have to explain LATER why you didn’t do it THEN. (I don’t say I obey all these rules; I am merely stating their existence.)
6. A stable and hitherto immobile stack of books will tip off just after you have set something valuable and fragile on top of it.
7. The book that has met your eye every time you looked at the shelf of books you set aside to sell online will not be in that spot when someone orders it.
8. If you realize that if you tip this box just so, you will be able to move these books out of the box underneath and then put these other books into the box, and you tilt the box and brace it with one knee, and pick up one of the stacks of books to move it delicately into position, someone will knock on the door.
9. On the day you have spent five hours tidying and rearranging boxes of books so as to provide more space to work, someone will deliver 23 garbage bags of books. (auxiliary rule: someone will walk in five minutes later and exclaim about how messy everything looks.)
9. If you go through one of those garbage bags and find the first volume of a rare two-volume set, and frantically sort the books in the remaining bags, you will not find the other volume. (auxiliary rule: the donor will bring in a bag they forgot, which contains the second volume, only after you have priced the odd volume and packed it away.)
10. The chances that you will get a delivery that is so messy you have to repack it out on the dock are in a direct ratio to the number of degrees away from comfortable the weather is today.
11. A delivery of really interesting, exciting books will be followed half an hour later by a delivery of books which are dusty, drab, and so numerous that you will be unable to work on the interesting stuff until you get them (auxiliary rule: While you’re doing that, six people will drop by, each with eight bags and a banana box)
12. The last box you need to move to finish up for the day will not fit where you planned for it to go. (It will be off by a quarter of an inch.)