Wednesday, November 08, 2006


A Japanese tourist approached me while I was puttering around the shelves of new books with a tale of woe. He had that he had left his bag unattended in the express internet line while he went off to the bathroom and when he returned it was, predictably, gone. I glanced over at the queue. In line, there was an old wino who was muttering to himself, swatting at the air. There were two hippies with matted dread locks chanting softly, their legs folded on the chairs swami style and their eyes closed. An old African American man was expounding on a passage of the Bible to a throwaway teen. The way to describe the rest of the people in line in one word: sketchy. I looked over at the queue for the internet and it looked more like the waiting room in the central intake unit of a county drug treatment center than a line for the internet.

The unfortunate Japanese tourists seemed genuinely bewildered that someone had taken his bag. I know that this sort of larceny/property crime is quite rare in Japan, but I still think he showed appalling cultural naivety by leaving his bag unguarded. He wanted to know if we had security cameras and I told him we did not. I suggested that he leave his name with security so they could contact him if the bag was turned in.

I myself had my wallet stolen from my backpack while I was in the university library back in graduate school, so I was disabused of my notion of a library being a hallowed, safe place of learning then. It's more like a den of thieves, perverts and deviants AND a palace of learning.

I love it! Do you think I would be allowed to make promotional posters with the statement: "Your Library: A den of thieves, perverts and deviants AND a palace of learning"?

I never cease to be amazed by the numbers of students who blithely leave their bulky purses, laptops and whatnot on a desk in the library, to go off to the toilet, get a coffee, have a smoke, whatever, and are amazed/upset when they get back and their gear has mysteriously vanished...
Even here at Sewanee theft is becoming more and more common with iPods and laptops the favorite item
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