Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Today I was standing in line at the public library to pick up a book on hold, and the librarian at the desk spent two or three minutes carrying on an amicable chat with the fellow in front of me about science fiction series while I was clearly waiting. People complain about how this sort of thing happens in Italy, or happened in formerly socialist countries--the old saw about the Italian postman who never completes his route because he's too busy talking to the people along it is a good example. In reality, though, this is the beautiful thing about nationalized services, like our public libraries. It is well worth two or three minutes of my day for that guy to be able to have a conversation with the librarian and not have to cut it rudely short. I am, in all sincerity, glad to wait in exchange for the sense of connectedness and community that fosters, and the smiles it brings these recklessly inefficient chatters throughout their day. I'm glad my tax dollars fund that kind of leisurely unconcern for helping as many customers as quickly as possible, because my day was enriched just by listening to them excitedly exchanging the names of authors I'd never heard of, and taking precious time to share an honest enthusiasm. You just can't get service like that from private enterprise.