JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Abuse of grace

February 2nd, 2005 · 3 Comments

Anita Rowland in her post Failure of Trust linked to Fred First’s story of book loan and loss Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be.

Today I pulled a scrap of paper from the pocket of a pair of pants I hadn’t worn since mid-December. My heart sank. The registrar’s information printout reminded me that I had been a poor judge of character and probably deserved to never see my loaned books again.

It’s hard to say goodbye to a beloved book.

The other day we thought we had lost a library book. I spent half an hour searching for it myself, thinking it had slipped off of the refrigerator top where I sometimes store large stacks of books, or disappeared in one of my daughter’s desk drawers. Then Abigail told me she had read it and put it on her shelf. Later she discovered the book had slipped off the back of the shelf through a gap. I threw a little party to celebrate.

I don’t like to lose books. It was a day overdue already. So while it was still lost, I did what a librarian showed me to do – renew it to buy myself more time to find it!

I used to return library books on time all the time. But then I started down a slippery slope. I figured that returning a book later that night, when the library was closed, was the same as returning it that day. But the library wouldn’t process it until the next morning. So returning a book the next morning was probably the same as returning it the previous day.

One time I was a few days late bringing a book back. As I stood before the librarian awaiting my rebuke and anticipating a fine, she told me that there was a two week grace period for returning a book. Two week grace period?!

Curiously, since I discovered the grace, I’ve taken more slippery slopes and become more sloppy. Now if I get the book back to the library within two or three days of the due date I feel I’ve made it on time. My excuse this week was that I was ill. But I have become more relaxed about returning books.

Funny, I never imagined myself being someone who was late and sloppy or who took her time returning things. Perhaps, one could argue, it takes punishment to reinforce a rule. Knowing that I can keep a book later without consequence has changed my behavior. Maybe I need to institute a negative reward for myself, so I won’t be tempted to push the rules. Who knows why I’ve slipped. I drive the speed limit. In many other areas of life I play by the rules. I like to live by laws. I just don’t know why I won’t return books to the library on time. Why is it, when given grace, I abuse it?

Writing this post has reminded me that I have something we borrowed from Anita – guess we should try to make it to one of the East Side Weblogger Meetups to return it to her….

Tags: journal

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rod K // Feb 3, 2005 at 6:13 am

    I always feel guilty when I have a library book past it’s due date. I have this picture in my mind of some other patron waiting for the book to be returned so they can check it out 🙂


  • 2 Anita Rowland // Feb 4, 2005 at 8:37 pm

    Are you thinking of those I spy cards? please don’t worry about returning them if the family is enjoying them; I don’t think R— is ready for them and when he is I’ll buy another set.

    We should do another play date this month!

  • 3 Anita Rowland // Feb 4, 2005 at 8:38 pm

    But of course I’d love to see you at a Seattle or East Side meetup!

Leave a Comment