Saturday, July 31, 2010

Course Overload #3: "Shhh!"

“Need a quiet place to study?” the sign read. Why yes Mr. Sign, I do. How did you know?
According to the sign on the door, the second floor of the library was reserved for quiet study, and that’s what I needed. My modern American English class had been canceled for some reason and I had to kill some time before history. And what better way to kill time than studying, aside from hanging out with what I’ve heard other people call “friends.” But I’m not exactly sure what those are, or even how much one of them would cost, so it was down to the second floor for me.

Stepping through the door, I found a comfortable seat near the window, pulled out my history book, and cracked it open. No more than six seconds later, I was startled by a loud noise.

“Thump! Thump! Thump!”

I tried to ignore it, but after a few minutes, I had begun digging out my own eyeball with my thumb in frustration. I needed to know what was making those horrible sounds. A quick search of the library revealed nothing, so I went to the librarian’s desk to find out what was going on. Low and behold, I found the librarian stacking old textbooks into a giant cardboard box.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Shh! No talking in the library. This is a place for quiet study,” she yelled back, tossing in a few more books with a loud crash.

“Well, I came to ask if you could stop making so much noise. I’ve got to study for this history test, see, and…” Before I could finish, another librarian approached and carelessly tossed a stack of CDs into the mysterious box.

This piqued my curiosity. Storing books in a library is one thing, but CDs? I snuck a look inside the box while the librarians conversed, and to my surprise, it was filled with the things nightmares are scared of. Next to about a dozen selections from Opera’s book club were a pair of leg warmers, three Milli Vanilli CDs, every Ace of Base single ever, a copy of Freddie Got Fingered, some Pokémon cards, Plan 9 from Outer Space on DVD, and a stack of E.T. Atari cartridges.

“What’s this all about?” I asked, puzzled.

“If you must know, these are the things we’re sending away,” the librarian replied.

“Sending away?” I was more confused than ever.

“Yes, sending away. Whenever we don’t like something, we put it in a box and send it to Rutgers University in New Jersey. We never put a return address on it, so those suckers have no idea who’s sending them all this awful junk.”

I didn’t say anything for a long time. I watched the librarians disassemble an entire Macintosh computer and put it in the box piece by piece. “Why Rutgers?” I finally asked.

“Why not?” the librarian replied. “Now if you don’t stop bothering me, I’ll put you in here too. It’s not all that hard to poke some air holes in one of these boxes, you know.” The thought of being so close to so many horrible things made me scream inside. Without another word, I went back to my history book.

Within a few minutes, I had settled down and was starting to read again, when suddenly, the shrill cry of a siren cut through the air. It wasn’t a fire alarm, no. It was more like a car alarm.

“What’s that flippin’ noise!?” I exclaimed, only I didn’t say “flippin’.”

“Oh,” said the girl sitting next to me, “that’s the Learning Alarm.”

“The Learning Alarm?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied, “it goes off whenever someone starts learning something in here. It’s to alert everyone else to your great accomplishment. It’s a real honor.”

“I should have gone to Marist,” I mumbled, gathering my things and walking toward the exit. Just above the door, a small box-like object flashed like a strobe light, and emitted the earsplitting alarm tone. Taking great aim, I tossed my history book at the box, knocking it to the ground. Somehow, it continued flashing and wailing. It must have had a self-contained power supply.

Without even looking, I tossed both the alarm and my history book into the Rutgers box and ran out of the library crying. As I ran from the room, I could hear the librarian shouting at me. “Stop that incessant crying!” she yelled. “Don’t you know that the second floor is reserved for quiet study?”

I never did get much studying done for that test, but I’m not exactly worried about it. I’m a smart individual, and perhaps I absorbed enough information in class to pass. There’s that, and… let’s just say that the test is on its way to Rutgers now.

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