What Are You Packing?

When you drop by the Newberry, you will spot some new artwork. Stylized silhouettes of handguns inside a red circle, with a red slant across them, wait on every door. They’ve been placed according to law to indicate that, even if Concealed Carry is legal now, we prefer that you leave your guns at home when you visit. This may be vital to volunteers doing restocking at the Thirtieth Book Fair. We need to avoid any fatal arguments while people argue whether The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood goes in Fiction or Literature.

Of course, I am being facetious. In reality, I am deeply disturbed to see these stickers forbidding concealed weapons at the Newberry. It is, to say the least of it, unfair.

Where are the stickers banning banana boxes? Why haven’t we got stickers with pictures of textbooks in red circles with red slants forbidding them? Where’s the government agency that can send us stickers forbidding donations in garbage bags?

I’ve mentioned garbage bags to you before, chocolate chip chimichanga. They offer no support for the books, jumbling them together in no sort of secure environment. (I have been informed that this is why so few genuine vintage duck decoys are in good shape; hunters would haul them to the duck blind in big old bags, bouncing them together until those poor wooden ducks would do anything to get down.) They are hard to carry, and harder to fit into a stack of books waiting to be processed than a nice square box. (No, I’m not going to apologize for the duck joke. I was hoping we’d all just ignore it.) And, really, it doesn’t give the best impression of your regard for your own donation.

A plain old T-sack (the sort of plastic bag you get in most stores with a small purchase) at least allows for stacking. There isn’t much room for the books to get out of order. A tall kitchen bag, as it is known in the trade, is not so easy on the books, but it has one advantage in that it is rather thin. You know if you try to cram your whole library into one, those books will be spilling out onto the floor before you can remember where you left the twist ties.

But ah, the garbage bag, the leaf bag, the contractor bag! Good, solid walls and lots of space. I don’t weigh my donations, but I betcha some of my donors have managed to get eighty pounds of books to a bag with heavy duty garbage bags. Corners get bent, hinges get popped, dust jackets are torn, but how efficient for carrying! (If you’re a weightlifter) And you can get all of those books out of the attic with only six trips to the car!

I think I will try to turn this liability into an asset, as one of my past college presidents used to exhort us all. Instead of fuming, I am trying to invent a machine which I will sell on infomercials at 3 A.M. This will be a device which will allow you to fasten garbage bags WITHOUT TWIST TIES! WITHOUT PLASTIC GADGETS! (All infomercials speak in all capital letters.) This device will SEAL YOUR BAGS SHUT WITH A QUICK SLIDE OF THE BAG SEALER! Not only will this make YOUR job easier, the device will make MY dealing with garbage bags of books very simple.

I’ll have you arrested as you carry them to the loading dock. You’ll be violating my Sealed Carry Law.

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