Mullberry Whine

poured out before bed

THE Library Fine

…Edvard must have been a student here.  WHY must it be like this, U of Medicine?! (The Scream of Nature, 1893, by Edvard Munch)

“200X?  But I was in college in 200X – I was in Awesometown, not Radcity.  I couldn’t have taken out any books here at that time!”

The chubby librarian pushes her glasses up her narrow nose with a sausage-like finger.

“Well, it shows here you opened an account here in 200Y,” she says matter of factly.

“I’m afraid that’s a mistake – I was in high school at that time… I wasn’t even in this state…”

“Well, I don’t know that.  What I do know is you took out [insert long list of obscure books here] in 200X – and you renewed them late.  Your total fine comes to $120.10.  Now, don’t waste my time trying to get out of your responsibilities.”

She shakes her head in great annoyance, as if chiding a naughty child.  For a moment, I’ve no idea what to say.

“May I speak to your supervisor?” I finally ask.

The obese librarian smiles.

“I’m my own boss.  THE boss.”

“OK, then.  What is your full name?”

She falters in surprise.

“Why…it’s Joan Jones, if you must know.”

“I must.  I’d like a copy of my fines please.”

She sighs.

“You realize, if you delay, the registrar’s office will hold your transcripts from your residency application?!” she lifts a too-darkly pencilled-in eyebrow.

“You realize I am not liable for these fines as I was not a student at this institution when they were accrued?” I lift my nearly invisible blond one.

She sighs again, this time even less becomingly than before, and stomps to the printer.  She thunders back and thrusts a sheaf of dates and charges in my direction.

“Good luck,” she seethes with sarcasm.

“Thanks for your help,” I say primly and sweep out towards the elevators.

At the registrar’s office, I sit in a pastel colored chair and wait.  The secretary is on the phone with a friend, detailing her plans for the upcoming weekend.  After thirteen full minutes of gushing about her friend’s house on the coast and how her darling grand babies just love the sand, she finally gets around to acknowledging me.

“What can I do for you?”

I explain the situation to her – a fine for books I never took out at a time I was neither student of the institution nor resident of the city.  I explain that the individual I spoke to accused me of trying to shirk my responsibilities and would hear none of my arguments.  The entire time I’m speaking she’s looking at the little clock on her counter.  I ask if she can help me.

The woman shakes her head.

“Well, I don’t see how I can… But it does sound like some sort of clerical error.  Who did you speak to?”

“Joan Jones.”

“Oh, well, she’s the accounts boss over there… And she’s a good friend of mine… I can’t imagine she’s being unreasonable about this…”


“Ma’am,” I point to the printed papers between us, “it is impossible that I could have taken out these books.  I was not even a student at this institution until years after they were overdue.  I will not pay over 100 dollars for books I never checked out.  And why have none of these charges come to light until now?!  I’ve never had any charges show up before, none of my grades have ever been withheld for fines – the email I received yesterday is the first I’ve heard of this. This is obviously some sort of computer error.”

The woman shrugs and steps away.  “Well, I can’t help you.”  She turns her back to me and begins dropping items into a canvas bag, preparing to leave for the day.

I feel my blood pressure surge.  “May I see your supervisor, please?”

Five minutes later, I’m walking into the registrar’s office (THE Registrar’s office), print out in hand.  I again explain the situation, remaining as calm as possible, but feeling my pulse beat behind my eyes.  I am relieved that not only is he actually making eye contact with me, but he looks concerned.  And he’s nodding.  Another mere five minutes and he’s accessed my computer files, identified the error, and put everything to right.

He hands me a receipt.

“I’ve fixed the issue and lifted the hold on your grades, effective immediately.  I’ve also frozen your library account until your transcript is released so that no additional charges can be filed until all documents are safely uploaded to the application program.  I’m sorry about all of this… This should never have happened – and it should have been fixed long before you were referred to me.  I’ll be having a conversation with all involved parties.”

I thank him profusely, shake his hand and walk down the hall to where the secretary’s cubicle is already dark and empty.  I make my way out to the parking lot, feeling relieved, exonerated, even.  As I approach my car, I note Ms. Jones (THE Ms. Jones) piling the 20 canvas bags the token U of Medicine secretary carries each day into her station wagon.  She spots me and grins terribly.

“Did you finally decide to pay up?”

I smile sweetly.

“No, actually.  But I imagine you’ll hear all about it from Mr. Registrar tomorrow.  Have a nice evening.”

I jump in my car and drive toward home, the blank look on Ms. Jones’ doughy face inspiring the smirk on mine.


6 comments on “THE Library Fine

  1. on thehomefrontandbeyond
    August 31, 2012

    all I can say is wow and good for you

    • mullberrywhine
      August 31, 2012

      Ugh! It was ridiculous – and expensive – and I was having none of it!

  2. Dr. K
    August 31, 2012

    Kudos. Way to show ’em who’s boss 🙂

    • mullberrywhine
      August 31, 2012

      I can’t stand people who do not do their jobs, let alone do them well…

      • emmawolf
        September 10, 2012

        Ugh, me neither. I’ve had a stint of unemployment and the watching other people either refuse to do their job or be incompetent made my blood boil!

        • mullberrywhine
          September 10, 2012

          It’s maddening, isn’t it?! And I do hope you find (or have found) a killer job to strut your mad skills and fabulous work ethic!

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Creative Commons License
Nothing under the table.
The views expressed on "Mullberry Whine" are NOT intended to diagnose or treat disease.
The med-ed related stories described here are based on real events. Details have been changed in accordance with HIPAA de-identification guidelines to protect confidentiality.
Mullberry Whine can be enjoyed daily; there is no unsafe quantity. Real wine, though, should be enjoyed in moderation. At-Risk Drinking for males under 65 is defined as >14 alcoholic beverages per week or >4/day, with >7 drinks a week or >3/day being the cut-off for females under 65 and for anyone, male or female, who has graced this planet for 65 years for more. Drink Mullberry Whine like there are no consequences. But drink alcohol responsibly. Your friends, your family, your health-care provider, and your liver - heck, ALL of the organs in your body - will thank you.
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