a wandering woman writes

Monday, June 20, 2005

Overdue

Tomorrow's a dark day.

Tomorrow I return late library materials.

DVDs, to be exact. DVDs that didn't work. DVDs that blew my brilliant learn-colloquial-expressions-watching-movies-and-sound-more-like-a-native plan, although that's a blog entry for another day.

Thing is, I'd rather do this the American way. I'd rather march up to the library desk, look the librarian square in the eye and push my late returns across the desk. I'd rather pay my late fine, pat myself on the back for contributing to the public good and be on my merry way.

Yet, for reasons that escape me, Salamanca makes conscientious use of my public library less than convenient, at least for spoiled Chicagoans addicted to self-service lives and 24 hour drop boxes. To return my borrowed goods, I first have to manage to arrive during library hours, always a considerable challenge. Then I have to pay to store everything I've brought with me in a 1 euro lobby locker. Finally, I have to enter the library armed only with the materials I want to return. There I'll join the line at the circulation desk and wait for the librarian to give me a thumbs up on my due dates.

It's when that thumbs up doesn't show that things get tricky.

Take tomorrow, for example. Tomorrow I will line up with my fellow citizens. I'll slink up to the librarian, eyes glued to the floor, then I'll silently push the DVD boxes across the desk. After a quick scan, the librarian will recognize the flashing OVERDUE message on his computer screen and look at me over his half moon glasses. He'll clear his throat and announce my punishment in that impressive public speaking voice every Spaniard seems to have perfected while reciting Siglo de Oro poetry in grade school.

"No se puede sacar materiales hasta.."
"You cannot check out anything else until.."


A gasp will run through the crowd. I'll be shut off. Exiled. Unwelcome. Denied my library privileges for just as many days as I illegally held onto the DVDs.

I have to admit that I do find the Spanish method powerful. Shame, expulsion, public humiliation. They work. Like any red-blooded American, I stand ready to pay my way out of my predicament, but the Spanish will have none of it. I must learn. No se puede.

May I add that I am always on time for work, appointments and social occasions? Meanwhile, my fellow Salmantinos are, well, not. Can't I save up Salamanca punctual points or something?? Why is library punctuality so much more important than pinchos punctuality, I ask?

I can only hope some tall dark Spaniard behind me in the check-out line will find my bold defiance of library rules exciting and strike up a conversation.

Either way Spain is making a better woman out of me.
Punctual with library returns, anyway.

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4 Comments:

  • Hi, stopping by.....

    that was a funny post, :)

    By Blogger Peri, at 6:32 AM  

  • thank you, peri!
    funny, perhaps, but oh so very true.....

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 10:41 AM  

  • Good Afternoon:

    Although you wrote this a while ago, I have some issues. First, I should state that I am a Spaniard, a proud Castilian, and though not from Salamanca but rather from Madrid, I know Salamanca very well...as I do all of Spain, my great country.

    I don't know where you get this idea that "Salmantinos are not punctual." I deal with many North American foreigners (especially students), and I have only had problems with punctuality from them (and this is not to mention, since it is not very relevant here), their highly disrespectful behaviour in the city centre.

    I also find it interesting that you find yourself in Salamanca (I do not know this moment but when you wrote this blog), and yet, you do not write in Spanish. Is it fair to think that you have not learned one meaningful sentence in Castilian Spanish? Why did you come to Spain then? Are you like 90% of all the other foreigners who just come here to "soak in" what you like and not learn the real culture?

    Again, I know this comment is "overdue"...and I will end with this:

    If you had a problem returning the books due to time issues, then you should be more responsible and write down the hours when they are supposed to be returned to the person in charge (la encargada)...because this way you wouldn't need to complain about the way hours work.

    Good Afternoon

    By Anonymous Don Valcárcel, at 7:13 PM  

  • Have you thought of writing a little letter to introduce the library to 24h drop boxes?

    Alex

    By Blogger Alfacharly, at 5:26 PM  

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