Not an Essay Question II | Page 44 | Newberry

Not an Essay Question II

Many years ago, before the funding was cut off, I was part of a program which involved my evaluating the work of Junior High School (or Middle School) students.  Yes, that’s a frightening concept at the outset, but it was a nation-wide program, and the organizers of it had realized there might be people like Uncle Blogsy out there.  So they prepared a “Sheet of Useful Phrases to Use”.  A shorter and more descriptive title might have been “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Don’t Say Anything At All.”

They needn’t have worried about your Uncle Blogsy, who was so awed by how much more initiative the kids showed than he would have at their age that he was always saying nice things.  (What I said about the other people in my committee was another matter, but we must move along.)

About a year ago, I tried to give you a few gentle pointers about filling in the middle part of our receipt form.  I will not go over that now: wait until we publish “Uncle Blogsy’s Rants and Recipes, or The Divine Secrets of the Banana Box Brotherhood”.  I wanted to cover my omission in not telling you hor to fill out the BOTTOM third of the form.

First off, YOU do not sign where it says Received By.  Somebody at the Library has to sign that, since it shows we received your donation.  If YOU sign it, you’re just verifying your own donation, and the IRS will laugh at you and call you names.  There is also a line for the date, which some people like to fill in for me.  I do not object to this, though I resent the implication that I do not know what day it is.  (I don’t, but that doesn’t keep me from resenting the implication.)

There is one other part, however, which people agonize over.  This amazes me.  I’m afraid I regard that little section as optional, and most people ignore it or chuckle about it and move on.  It is the section that asks “How did you hear about the Book Fair?”

“Well, I’ve been coming to it for years,” is what they usually say when they decide not to fill in the blank.  “Yeah, we’re legendary by now anyhow,” is my usual reply.

But there ARE people who will fill in short essays, beginning with “My neighbor said the building manager’s nephew knew about a library….” Or “In 1997, I happened to see an ad in the paper, and I couldn’t give books that year but I cut it out and….”

So I would like to suggest some Useful Phrases to Use In Filling Out THAT Bit.  It’ll save us both some time.

“I Live In the Neighborhood.”  (More people lately have been saying, “I live in Chicago” as if it were only natural that if you live here, you’ve heard of the Book Fair.  Very gratifying.  I’m waiting for “I Live in the Midwest” or “I am a Patriotic Book-Buying American”.)

“Word of Mouth” (You DON’T have to tell us who told you; we do not give trading stamps to those who pass the message)

“I Saw That Great Story in the Tribune”  (Don’t try to remember how many years ago you read the article: if you guess too high and you’re right, it’s depressing.)

“Regular customer”  (This is not only cheering but it distinguishes you from our irregular customers)

“I work here.”  (Really, you know, you didn’t have to fill in that blank at all.)

“I’m a volunteer” (I can wave this at people who claim our volunteers never donate anything…no, it doesn’t make sense to me either, but there ARE such people.)

“I am addicted to that marvelously witty blog you publish”  That’s the best of all.  I can pass it along to the authors of our genealogy blog.

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