Longtime readers of this blog (a special class of people who can be told at a glance from their lesser fellows—I keep telling them not to make that face or it’ll stick) will recall a set of rules of existence I set out a while ago, based on my experience as Book Fair manager. These maxims are generally sound, but the one I continue to put to the test every day is Maxim 1: Everything In the World is Off by a Quarter of an Inch. When I am piling heavy boxes of books to make room for more boxes of books, and a box refuses to fit into the space it was meant to occupy, I always console myself by murmuring that this proves my maxim. (It isn’t all I murmur, but never mind. Sometimes it’s pearls of wisdom dripping from your lips and sometimes it’s Frito crumbs.)
Anyway, I have observed a few other truths of life, and as you have helped me come to some of these, I thought you should benefit from my learning. No, don’t thank me: throw money.
1. Drizzle prevents donations; rain does not. (When it drizzles, people think, “I’ll hold off; it may clear up.” When the skies open and drop a deluge, they think, “Well, this is going to go on all day. I’ll take the stuff over and honk my horn ‘til Uncle Blogsy comes out.”)
2. That rare and precious set of books will be missing volume 12.
3. Old adhesive tape that is dry and useless and no longer holds the cover onto the book it was affixed to will, however, stick to that fragile dustjacket you set it on top of.
4. And it will do so just in the place where the bit you tear away getting the tape off will show.
5. If you have cleared space by processing 20 boxes of books, someone will arrive with fifteen garbage bags that will more than fill the space provided. (If you have cleared the space by emptying thirty shopping bags, someone will arrive with fifteen banana boxes.)
6. The best books will be packed in the worst boxes.
7. Really, really rare and delicate books will arrive in garbage bags.
8. Rare records will always be packed at the bottom of great big boxes, generally with great big books on top of them
9. Having a large amount of work which MUST be finished today increases the time taken by every drop-by donor to fill out a receipt form.
10. Children are NOT impressed by all the boxes of books. (The more their parents insist they look, the more interested they are in the ramp, which offers immediate gratification.)
11. You need ruby slippers. (If, on an ordinary day, you click your heels together three times and say “I need a vacation, I need a vacation, I need a vacation”, nothing much happens.)