fine me, baby

So, I was at the new office today (we’re moving in a month or two), helping them figure out how many data/voice ports we need to have and in what places, and I stopped by the library on the way back. the library is right by my new office.Anyway, I grabbed some new Christopher Moore books, since they’ve come highly recommended, and he’s coming to town. I grabbed a CJ Cherryh book, too (Downbelow Station), since I just loved the Faded Sun trilogy (just finished reading that a few months ago). I also picked up a couple of Spider Robinson books, one from teh Callahan’s series and one that is a standalone. Cory Doctorow posted somethign about how great he was on Boing Boing a while back, so I’ve wanted to read him for a while now.

So, I get up to the checkout, and try the automated machine. I slap down my card (bar code up!) and it says, “User Blocked.” Oh, crap. There was a book they thought I had lost, that I didn’t, that I took back later, and blah blah. It felt like going to the dentist and just KNOWING that there was a cavity waiting to be discovered.

I sauntered over to the counter, nonchalantly passing my card and saying, like it meant nothing to me, “might be some fines on there.” Like I didn’t already know. I am SO clever.

He turns the screen over to me and says, ah, yeah. I’m thinking, crap, I owe hundreds of dollars. He says, it adds up to $10.20.

I’m totally relieved. Now, I KNOW I shouldn’t even HAVE fines. It’s not that far to go to the library, especially in Anchorage. It’s a whole 15 min drive from home, 5 from work, etc. etc. But sometimes, it happens.

I said, “do you take visa?” and put down my debit card. Yep, they do, and he spent a couple minutes futzing with the computer, saying “that’s odd” under his breath. Seems like he got it worked out, something to the effect of “it’s not printing a receipt” (of the books that were late) which is fine with me.

He walked tot he visa machine, rang it up, and came back with a receipt for me to sign. He says, all nicely, “I made it an even $20.00 for you.”

My brain is fuzzy. I say, “wasn’t the fine different?”

He says, “yep, and i made it an even $20.”

I just signed it and left. I feel silly arguing over money with an institution that brings me and the community so much happiness. It could be that in his futzing, he just doubled my fine to $20.40, and then rounded down as a “favor” to me. It could be that he’s skimming off the top (though how do you do that with a visa?) and saving for a dream boat with the embezzled funds.

Probably just a mistake. And if the extra money goes to the library, so much the better.

I can’t wait to read the books.

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