The Horns of a Dilemma: Good Citizenship vs Self-interest

I’ve always wanted to use that cliche: horns of a dilemma. My life is mostly dilemma free or at least I believe it to be. I had to search the archives and found roughly 42 posts featuring the word dilemma and most of those dilemmas had to do with Dawson’s Creek or dealing with insomnia. Once it was quoting a Spin Doctors’ song. There are important facts I feel the need for you to know and have nothing at all to do with my current dilemma.

My current dilemma has to do with the choice between being a good citizen or putting my own self-interest over the wants/desires for a complete stranger.

Okay, here’s the situation.

Remember how last year I fell back in love With the library? It has been a grand year filled with not paying to read mediocre books. For that I am forever grateful.

In general the rekindled library relationship has been going swell. However, now I’m at the horns of the aforementioned dilemma. Most people probably don’t realize this, but I am a slow reader. A super-slow, must get in each word reader. Unless a book really lights me on fire (which doesn’t happen that often), it takes me forever to finish a book. That’s why it took me roughly 88 years to finish The Orphan Master’s Son and then had to bitch about it for about four weeks. I bitched so much about it that at one point Christa said, “That book really ruined your life, didn’t it?”

It did! Matters weren’t helped that it fell into the shitfecta that included How Should a Person Be? (one of the meanest books I’ve ever read) and that awfully dull Pete Townshend memoir Boats I Bought & Studio Equipment I Purchased Off Your Ridiculous Unending Baby Boomer Nostalgia Bullshit. I don’t know why I’m bitching about these books it has nothing to do with my dilemma.

My dilemma has to do with & Sons by David Gilbert, a lovely book I’ve been enjoying reading quite a bit. It’s got a real John Irvingeque vibe to it and reminds me of being nineteen when I read a lot of books about rich white folks in New York.

I borrowed & Sons from the library three weeks ago. It is due tomorrow and I am not done. I’m only about half-way through it and I really do want to finish it. Damn you shitty Tampa, why did I read you first? WHY?

Last night I tried to renew it for another three weeks, which would give me plenty of time to finish at my usual pace. Lo and behold! There are six other people in line behind me at the library waiting for me to return this book. This means, for those who never use the library, that I can’t renew it.

So what’s a nerd to do? Do I keep the book until I am finished, accruing the 30¢-a-day fine. I could probably bust through it by the end of the week. Or do I do the right thing and return the book to the library tomorrow on it’s due date, get to the back of the line, and let all the others read and hope I get to check it out again before I forget the first 200 pages?

Now, I fully realize there are places that will give me the book for keeps in exchange for some amount of dollars. However, I’m saving all my dollars for my trip to Chicago to see Joan Jett & The Replacements.

So what would you do? Keep it and screw the other literature reading people? Or return it and wait your turn?

Now that I’ve waited 641ish words of your time I’ve already decided that I’ll return it. I don’t think my conscience will let me be such a willful asshole. Damn it.

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  1. Matthew Baiocchi 19.Aug.13 at 5:18 pm

    As a library employee I fully endorse keeping the book and paying the fine. The book is being *enjoyed*…that is the purpose of a book.

    Bonus points if you start making nice with the library employees where you will then stand a greater chance of having fines waived when these things come up…baked goods are good for bribery as well.

    1. Jodi 19.Aug.13 at 5:19 pm

      How would you feel about it if you were first in line on the hold list?

      1. Matthew Baiocchi 19.Aug.13 at 5:46 pm

        I have been next on the hold list waiting, many times, for its return after the due date has come and gone and have, somehow, despite the great odds, managed to still live a happy life. 🙂

        What I’m saying is: it is your civic duty to return the book eventually, pay any associated fines (or offer sugary bribes) and you will not, in any way shape or form, face negative karma/the sulfurous pits of hell/the scowl of a decent librarian for it.

        1. Jodi 19.Aug.13 at 5:48 pm

          As if I would ever face a scowling librarian. If I had an overdue book I would drop it in the overnight bin and skedaddle in the dark of night. Sheesh.

  2. Suzy 21.Aug.13 at 11:57 am

    Keep it – that way you can write a review and I will know if I should waste my golden Amazon gift card on purchasing it or not. You already saved me from Tampa, which I was feeling skeevy about anyway, but now I don’t have to read it, because you did. So Thanks! I choose Dear Life instead (which is stretch for me, cause I don’t normally like short stories). Now read.

    1. Jodi 23.Aug.13 at 8:47 am

      So far so good. It went a little off the rails in the middle, and I’m waiting to see if he can pull it together.

      I am so glad I saved you from the barf that is Tampa. So many are lauding this and I just don’t get it. I guess it’s supposed to be brave? Honest? I can’t tell.

  3. Susanna 23.Aug.13 at 8:45 am

    The book may be back in the bin already, but I’d keep it, too. The next six readers already are waiting patiently. They probably aren’t sitting at the computer hitting the “refresh” button on their status in the hold line. And if they are, well, they could learn some patience. I consider the fine a rental fee — nay, supporting the library, because they already paid for it and thanks to slow readers, they can recoup a buck or two.

    1. Jodi 23.Aug.13 at 8:46 am

      Thanks to Matthew (and some friends on Twitter), I kept it! I’ll return it tomorrow when I finish it.


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