It is no small thing to take three small kids to the library.
But our books were overdue, fines were accruing, and the kids were antsy for new literary fodder. So we played hunt-the-library-book, got all our gear together and made the trip across town. The kids took turn to return the books into the book deposit slots and raced inside. The eldest two made their choices, carefully laying their fortnights worth of treasures into the bag, while I tried to restrain my destructo-baby from pulling armfuls of books into the aisles. I attempted to do this all quietly.
After 30 minutes, Mommy was Done. I gathered up the books, the bags, the destructo-baby and corralled the eldest two. As we stepped up to the electronic check out, I realized with horror that I. did. not. have. our. library. card.
I sighed as I turned around and headed for the tired yet kindly librarian behind the counter. “I forgot my library card,” I confessed. “Can you help me?”
“Only if you’re paying me money,” she replied, and pointed to the “accounts” sign above her head.
“I had a fine to pay anyway,” I said, and offered her my ID so she could look me up. “I never mind paying library fines,” I said, making conversation while she typed. “I feel badly that the books are late and I’m sorry for the infraction, but I don’t actually mind giving money to the library.”
She laughed. “You could consider it your dues,” she said, and told me how much I owed.
I stifled a gasp with a smile. “Wow. I didn’t think a little fine here and there could add up to such a big debt.” I said. I handed over a crisp note, a transaction in green to erase my debts.
“No,” she said, “People are often surprised at what they owe.”
I looked down at the bag of books and asked, “do you think we could take these out? If I need my card, don’t worry – I’ll come back another day”
“Sure,” she replied, and then added a qualification, “now that I know who you are. I mean, people don’t pay other people’s debts, now do they?”
I hesitated, and then mumbled, “not unless you’re Jesus.”
Her head snapped up, eyes widened to see if she had heard me correctly.
I said it again, clearer and with grateful remembrance: “You’re right. People don’t pay other people’s debts. Unless you’re Jesus.” A transaction in red to erase my debts.