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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Feathers

I never imagined myself working extensively with the public via customer service. But, ever since graduating college, that seems to be what I've been doing. Such jobs are draining, sometimes rewarding, and always full of people encounters (which in my humble opinion is what makes the stories of life).


There is a man who comes into my library about once a week. A few of my co-workers refer to him as Mr. Frenchy. They know he's married with kids, but something about his French accent and his speaking French to his kids, makes these co-workers get a little weak in the knees (I only work with women, so you know...this happens, I guess). I'm not one them, but I get a small sigh of satisfaction when I get to help Mr. Frenchy and his kids at the circulation desk, because I know my co-workers are just a little bit jealous that I get to talk to him. (Oh, that's such a girl fault, isn't it?)

Last week as I was working my usual Thursday night, Mr. Frenchy arrives with his kiddos (two boys and a girl). The oldest boy--perhaps six or so--comes up to me at the desk and holds out a grubby, gray and white bird feather. "This is for a librarian," he says as he hands it me. My mind fights away the pictures of germs and imaginings of where this feather has been as I smile hugely and say, "It is? Where did you get it." He's very pleased and his French accented English is very cute, "At my house." I thank him, holding the feather as loosely as possible without dropping it. Mr. Frenchy smiles at his son and says, "Oh, I didn't know this was for a librarian. Tell her she must treasure it always." The boy says, "You must treasure it always." Mr. Frenchy looks at me and says, "No pressure, right?" I smile, still holding this feather, all those germs held in my hand! Little boy looks intently at the feather as they start to walk past, "Where are you going to put it?" I'm wanting to toss it in the trash can so badly, but I say, "I'm putting right here on the counter." They leave me to go into the children's room and I lay the feather carefully on a tissue and sanitize my hands. I know I can't throw this treasure away until they've left the library. What if the little boy asks for it back or asks to see it before they leave?

About a half an hour later, they come to the circulation desk to check out. I scan Mr. Frenchy's card and check out the DVDs. "Do you want to pay your $4 fine tonight?" He says, "How about the feather for the fine?" I laugh a little, "I'd love to, but I just don't think my manager would go for that." He half-smiles and rephrases the question as he gets out a $20 bill from his wallet and hands it to the smiling curly-haired daughter perched on the counter. I say again, that unfortunately we can't barter over fines. Little girl hands me the money and Mr. Frenchy says, "No more feathers for you." We both laugh and he and his kiddos leave to go home.

I toss the feather away and try to imagine what I'll tell little boy if he asks after the feather next time they are in--kids just don't forget those sorts of treasures.

4 comments:

Kim said...

Cute cute! Tell the little boy the feather is in a safe place at home? I love that you were thinking about germs... I always forget that feathers are riddled with them... I'm gross.

liz nelson said...

that would be mom's influence on the germ thing. I remember when I was little and I would find bird feathers, she was not super excited about me touching them or them being anywhere near the house.:)
that is a super cute story. i do love french accents.:)

Alaina said...

I would have been a bit horrified by having to hold it... I encourage my children to leave them on the ground. :) Very cute story and I'll admit to loving british and french accents. :)

Anonymous said...

So has little "bird boy" been back yet to ask you where his feather had been placed?

 
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