Reprise of Tough Love from a Tough Dad

In honor of Father’s Day, we wanted to reprise this incredible story sent in from Colorado. “Tough Love From a Tough Dad” was one of our most popular stories, an continues to be one of Merry’s favorites! Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there!

I work at a small library in an area of town that tends to house the lower-economic demographic. It is not unusual for things to be stolen from our library on a regular basis–most frequently our DVDs. One day, I was at the reference desk when a man came in with a young, teenage boy. The man looked pretty haggard. He had tattoos everywhere (even a cross between his eyebrows! Ouch!) and lots of piercings. He looked like he’d had a pretty hard life. When he came up to the desk, he set a very tall pile of DVDs in front of me–at least 20 DVDs.

“I found these in my son’s room,” he said. “He didn’t check them out. He stole them.”

I didn’t quite know how to respond, so I (rather stupidly) said, “Oh. Okay. So none of them are checked out?”

“No, ma’am,” he answered. Then he knelt down on the ground so that he was eye to eye with me. His son knelt beside him, looking deeply humiliated and angry.

“Listen,” the man said quietly. “I spent the first ten years of my boy’s life in prison. I screwed up a lot when I was younger, and I’m not proud of the man I was.” He put his arm around his son. “I want so much more for my boy than I had. I want him to be a man of integrity. So I brought him with me today because I wanted him to be accountable for what he’d done. Son, do you have anything to say?”

The boy looked at the floor and mumbled an apology at me.

I thought things would end there, but I was wrong. The dad continued talking.

“I am really proud of my son, ma’am. You need to know that. I love him so much more than anything in the world. He’s a great kid. A really great kid. I just feel bad that I was such a bad example to him. He has made some decisions lately that reflect how much I failed him, and I regret that. But I love him. I want him to be a better man than me.”

He then looked at his son, who had tears in his eyes, and said, “I love you, son. I love you.”

Then, the boy who had looked so tough and stubborn when he’d walked in, put his head on his dad’s shoulder and cried like a child. His dad held him, and wiped away a few of his own tears.

It was the most powerful thing I’ve ever seen. I, too, had teared up and had to fight to keep my voice steady as I thanked them both for their honesty. I told the boy that he was welcome to come back and get a library card when he was ready, and I returned all of the DVDs. They left, and I have never seen either of them again…but I will never forget them.

-“Diane” from Colorado

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Reprise of An Affair to Remember

This Story of the Week is officially one of our all-time favorites. When this one was submitted, Merry laughed out loud–and received a few glares from patrons. Stories like this one are the reason The Merry Librarian exists…and why she’s so merry! Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as we did…

I sympathize with the librarian in “Lost in Translation” who was asked to translate Mayan hieroglyphics into Egyptian hieroglyphics and so forth. My previous organization produced a commemorative poster of Gerardus Mercator (1512 – 1594), the famous cartographer, and it included an old woodcut with a Latin inscription surrounding the image. A woman called up our public inquiries center and asked for a translation of the Latin. Her telephone call was referred to me in the library.

Since we had produced the poster, I went ahead and–after a great deal of difficulty, an old Latin dictionary and some schoolboy church Latin–I was able to call her back and say the inscription more or less said, “Here is the great Mercator, in his study, surrounded by all his instruments.”

The woman was obviously heart broken and began sobbing.

When I asked her why she was upset, she stated that she thought it was a coded message from Mercator to her, through all the centuries. She was so disappointed that it wasn’t a love note addressed specifically to her from the famous man. She knew he loved her.

Cue the theme from the old Twilight Zone TV series.

Well, I ruined her day. But she sure made mine!


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A Year with Merry: Great Stories from ML

This was our first post on The Merry Librarian, and it remains one of our favorite (and most disgusting) stories. You could say that this story started it all! When Merry heard this tale from one of her coworkers, she knew she had to start a blog to chronicle some of the insanity of working in a library. Enjoy this gem from our past, and keep the Merry Librarian alive by sending in your own stories, too!

“Leaving a Legacy”

It has been a very busy day at the library, and the librarian takes a breath for the first time since lunch. With the breath comes a whiff of something very foul. Groaning inwardly, the librarian steps out from behind her desk to investigate—but she doesn’t get far.

Starting at the front door and passing through the self-check area, past the main desk, through the Children’s Section, up the stairs, around Adult Fiction and out the back door is a trail of human feces.

The librarian alerts the staff, who all try to keep from gagging while discussing what, exactly, should be done. A search is mounted for the defecator while the custodial crew (aka, the librarians) use the “Bodily Fluids Clean Up Kit” to dispose of the chunkier material. Later, one of the clerks realizes she’s stepped in a piece of the fecal matter and has been tracking it throughout the library. She is so upset that she has to go home to change clothes and shoes.

The perpetrator cannot be found, and so the security tapes must be viewed. Suspecting a child, the staff eyes the tapes carefully. Instead of a child, however, a middle aged woman–wearing white pants–walks through the front doors. She is apparently oblivious to the legacy she is leaving on the floor behind her. Nearby patrons, however, turn, point, hold their noses and hurry out of the library. Not one of them reports the woman to a staff member before she has left her trail throughout the library.

Moral of the story: If you see a person leaving a trail of poop, giggle, point, hold your nose and run away. Under no circumstances should you do something helpful, however…such as report the incident to staff.

June, 2009

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