I’m glad I was working at the circulation desk this afternoon when Russell came in. Russell is a gentle grandpa who has read every fiction book about naval warfare that we have, from Patrick O’Brian to C. S. Forester. We ordered books from other libraries for him. He made an occasional foray into Bernard Cornwell, but when we could find no more naval fiction for him, he decided to start back at the beginning and read them all over again.
Russell was a man on a mission today. He passed the desk with a wave and a “hi” and headed back to the stacks. A few minutes later, his wife Joan came trotting along behind him. She’s a dear, too…almost as tiny as Russell is tall. I’m not sure how long she has lived here, but she still has an English accent. I wish I knew the story of how they met.
When they came back to check out, they mentioned how cold it was getting outside. It was snowing a bit this afternoon while they were in the library. “But I got the leaves raked,” Russell said.
“All of them?” Joan asked.
“Yep,” Russell said.
Joan looked at him and said, “But there were leaves in the back.”
“Oh,” Russell said. “Well, I got the ones in the front raked.”
“What about the ones in the back?” Joan asked.
“Nobody can see those,” Russell chuckled, and Joan laughed, and they took their books and went home.
There are lots of things I love about working at the library, and one of them is all the people I get to meet. I also get to see people I know from other places. My friend Cathy came in today, and I got a chance to chat with her as she was leaving. I met Cathy when I was involved in the local homeschool group. She’s an amazingly cheerful person, and I love getting to talk to her.
She had finished on the computer and was headed out the door as we said hi. I had to lean over the counter to see her feet…sure enough, she had her flip-flops on. “Cathy!” I said. “I wondered if you would have those on today, since it’s snowing outside!”
She laughed, and we got to chat for just a bit. Her second son, Jake, served in the Marines a few years ago, so she likes to keep up with how Andy is doing. We talk about our kids, and how she and her husband, Bill, are still looking for that perfect acreage where they and their kids can all build houses and live close to each other. I hope it works out for them someday soon.
Even in our town of 8,000, I only know a tiny fraction of the people who live here. Just like a bigger city, you have to break it down into smaller bubbles of friendship. A neighborhood Christmas party for the people on our block. Eight people in our book group last week discussing “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom. Friday night crafters meeting at the church once a month to craft and gab, or gab and craft, whichever is the most important.
In a small town, though, it’s easier to be kind to strangers, because you are not so overwhelmed by the quantity of strangers available to get to know. The town is not so big that we don’t all have at least something in common. I made a new friend today in Grace, a college student who came to the library to interview me for a project she is working on about how to improve programming for teens and tweens at our library. I don’t know what is going to come of her project, but it was fun getting to know her a bit and pretty awesome that she thought of doing a project that would help us out.
Russell has inspired me to get out there and rake up my leaves too, if the snow will melt. If not, maybe I’ll just do the front yard. Otherwise, spring is just around the corner, as Cathy would be sure to tell me.