Today, I joined my mom at the library for a few hours while I waited for my car to be ready at a nearby mechanic. We were about twenty minutes early and children of librarians do not receive special privileges, so I had to wait out front until the doors were unlocked at 9:00. It didn’t seem like it would be too bad. There was a bench to sit on, it was sunny, and the humidity wasn’t oppressing.
I waited alone for a few minutes, and then a woman walked up the sidewalk and sat on the other end of the bench. As the minutes passed, it started. A few people at a time made their way to various spots in front of the door, standing. Staring. Then a few more. And a few more. Suddenly, at about 7 minutes ‘til, hoards of people appeared out of nowhere, shuffling intently towards the front doors of the library. And the cars! All of a sudden the parking lot was full! All of them parked facing the building, their occupants unmoving, just staring at the doors. It was unnerving! At 8:59, it began to look like a George Romero film, or maybe Shaun of the Dead. The ones who drove all got out of their cars to join those already waiting on the sidewalk. It was eerily silent. No one said “Good morning” or “Hello.” No one waved or gave a nod. When someone came into the lobby to unlock the doors, the patrons shuffled closer, jockeying and stumbling, trying to be the first one inside. It was rather frightening. Were they even going to let the door get all the way open? Would the worker be able to get out of the way?
When the crush had passed, I followed warily behind them. The people at the desks greeted them as they passed. Any response was an unintelligible grunt. It could have been “’Puter.” It could have been “Brains.”
Needless to say, the next time I have to wait outside for the library to open, I’m bringing my trusty shovel along. Just in case.