The Wearin' o' the Grin | Page 79 | Newberry

The Wearin' o' the Grin

So Pat meets Mike one day after not having seen him for a month or two, and says, “Mike, wherever in the world have ye been these days? And why’ve ye got all those bumps on your head?”

“Got a job, Pat, and it’s like to be the death of me,” says Mike, rubbing his forehead. “I’m that Irishman you read about who keeps walking into bars.”

(Yeah, I know what killed vaudeville, but I ain’t talkin’, see?)

In the true spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, however, I would like to turn to philosophy. One of our volunteers is a reviewer for an Irish heritage concern, and to our great enjoyment, drops off the books and CDS he’s finished with. Looking them over, I can see that the Irish are among the great philosopher nations. One book was nothing but reflections on life by members of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The GAA governs a sport called hurling, which involves a leather ball and some sticks and is faster and more hazardous than soccer or baseball. After 3,000 years, the rules have been altered to make players wear helmets. If, after dodging the bats, the balls, and the tacklers, these blokes can still speak in complete sentences, it says something about the hardiness of the country. (By the way, Wikipedia informs me that the only time hurling was included in the Olympics, the team from Chicago won the gold medal.)

So I wanted to pass on a few more philosophical insights I have gleaned while hurling books into categories.

Any electronic device donated to the Book Fair will be obsolete, broken, or, within about 47 hours, stolen.

If there is a wildly rare and valuable paperback book, you will be given the cheap hardcover edition.

If you are given a wildly rare and valuable book in its dust jacket, it will turn out that the true first edition was issued without a dust jacket.

If you need to measure a book to find out whether it is the proper size to be the wildly rare true first edition, the copy you have been given is (let’s say it together) off by a quarter of an inch.

Never assume the young woman assisting an older man in unloading books is his daughter.

If a box breaks open and the books spill out, the most valuable book in the box will fall first and hardest. And the other books will land on top of it.

If you are given a valuable postcard, someone will have cut the postage stamp off of it.

Always smile at a donor. Especially if the donor wants you to unload their books during a snowstorm. Smile even more when they ask for their boxes back.

The donor who pulls up to the dock and honks until you come out will always decide they are parked incorrectly and spend ten minutes reparking while you watch.

Always watch this from the dock. The donor is the only one who knows where that car needs to go, and has no time to reflect where your feet are.

Do NOT tell a donor about the two Irishmen who walked into a bar until you’re sure what kind of person you’re dealing with. Get the wrong person and you’ll be standing in the cold for an hour listening to THEIR jokes. (My hair didn’t turn white; it froze.)

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