Monday, December 20, 2010

The Mysterious Cane

People leave the strangest stuff behind here. Honestly, is not just small kids dropping toys or even obsessive compulsive people coming back to hunt for their favorite pen. We get stuff that logically, no one would ever lose.

Today, it was a cane. Not like some theater prop or decorative walking stick, but an honest-to-god, still-has-a-medical-supply-store-sticker cane. It was just hanging on a dusty shelf in the non-fiction section. I was pushing a 300-pound cart full of books, so I didn't really feel like stopping to investigate the matter, but it was something that a person would probably want back, so I picked the thing up and tried to hunt down the owner.

The nonfic section of the library is stuck in the northeast corner, so I figured someone with a walking problem couldn't get very far. But I was the only person there, save for this twentysomething guy with a scraggly goatee and a bit of a deranged look in his eye. The crazy level begin what it is around here, I didn't want to approach him, and he looked to be standing just fine anyways.

Next I checked the computer bank across the aisle. No luck there, either, unless one out of a group of eighth-graders needs a cane. I walked up to the reference librarian, Kay, a sweet but somewhat elderly lady, and asked if she had seen anyone who might need the cane.

"Huh," she said, took it from me and hefted it as if that could give some clue as to ownership. "Huh."

I nodded, because that had been exactly my reaction, too. She handed it back. "I haven't seen one, you might try the lost and found."

Just to clarify, our "Lost and Found" (airquotes for skepticism not emphasis) consists of a laundry basket in the back room stocked full of decades-old crap.Among us shelvers, it is lovingly referred to as "The Black Hole." Still, there didn't seem to be another option, so I brought it up to the circulation desk and handed it to Marge.

"Huh," she tossed it up a little bit.

"Yeah," I said. "Huh."

"Well," She said, "You might try giving it to Sharie."

I grimaced. Sharie is the real-life equivalent of the Mean Librarian. I've heard she's quite alright once you get past the hawkish stare and startling lack of body fat for a sixty-something woman, but I wasn't ready to take my chances. Still, with not a lot of choice, off I went.

Sharie was seated in her cubicle in the back offices. I knocked politely on the padded wall, and nearly jumped when she actually turned. I held up the cane and explained the situation.

"Well, that's certainly unusual. You'd think someone would need this." she said. Okay, so maybe not so much of a mean librarian. Then, almost as if it was required, she took it from me. "Huh."

"Yes, huh," it was getting old by now. "What should I do with it."

She shrugged. "Toss it in the lost and found. Apparently, they don't need it that badly."

So, after a twenty-minute voyage in which I traversed the entire library, talked to the scariest lady on staff, and probably could have shelved a good half a bookcart, the cane went from my hands to the laundry basket, on top of a pair of stained gym shorts.

Frankly, I'm doubting that it'll ever leave.