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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