Originally published February 3, 2022.
6 a.m. Wake up and put on knit cardigan, slacks, and sensible shoes. Feed my cat, Mr. Foibles. Have tea and English muffin while I read Shakespeare and listen to symphonies.
7 a.m. Get into twenty-year-old Corolla, turn on NPR, get rattled by news and switch to listening to a Charles Dickens book on tape read by Alistair Cooke.
7:15 a.m. Arrive to an exact replica of your hometown library, or what you imagine a library to look like, basically where Giles from Buffy works.
7:20 a.m. Pass front desk where I nod and greet the morning staff, all of whom have matching hair buns and pointy glasses. “Hello, Miss Ganderhoof. Miss Hemshaw. Miss Garlic. Miss Snippercase…”
7:25 a.m. Enter back office and hang up overcoat on coat rack. Open letter from mayor in which she declines to provide more funding for books “that no one reads anymore.”
7:35 a.m. Crumple up letter, think better of it, uncrumple letter, smooth it out, and place gently in bottom of recycling bin.
7:40 a.m. Push aside uncataloged books on desk to clear space to read my “at work” book: The History of the Dewey Decimal System.
10:00 a.m. Look up from text, astonished how fast time has passed. Open up a bag of Werther’s caramels.
10:30 a.m. Overzealously shush patrons.
11:00 a.m. Nap time.
12:00 p.m. Wake up when phone rings. Miss Skiffy, the new hire, asks whether we can forgive a book fine that’s under one dollar. Vehemently refuse, and ask her exactly how we are supposed to fund a library if we don’t collect fines?
12:05 p.m. Enter time machine and head to Woolworths lunch counter circa 1961 where I have potato soup, ham on rye with a side pickle, and some of Dixie’s sumptuous apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
12:55 p.m. Return to work. Say hello to Miss Bannister, Miss Hillywicket, Miss Faucet, and Miss Twelvepenny.
1:00 p.m. Work to clear cobwebs from book stacks. Become weakened and feverish and call cleaning services for estimates (all too high).
1:30 p.m. Find list of the most offensive books in print and order them all with your tax dollars.
2:00 p.m. Personal enrichment/reading time.
3:00 p.m. Start to write essay about how television ruined book-reading. Scrap the essay and start new one about how the internet made libraries obsolete. Scrap essay and start new one about how social media made thinking obsolete. Scrap essay and shake futile fist at iMac being used as a doorstop.
4:20 p.m. Shush the noisy orphaned children entrusted to our care after school lets out.
4:25 p.m. Shush quota for day met.
4:30 p.m. Pop a Werther’s and lock office door. Say good night to Miss Rigby, Miss Havisham, Miss Spankings, and Miss Stuffington.
5:00 p.m. Return to attic apartment with sweaty green walls. Tuck into a plate of mutton, beans, and pudding.
6:00 p.m. Wrap self in wool blanket and indulge in glass of port as I reread the Encyclopedia Britannica.
7:30 p.m. Since I don’t own a TV, amuse self by reading show descriptions in my PBS program guide.
8:00 p.m. Remove cardigan and rest of day clothes and put on long nightshirt and nightcap. Pull a card catalog box from beneath bed and organize it until I get drowsy.
9:30 p.m. Fall asleep and dream I’m someone important, like a business executive or something.