Despite our best efforts to check before we get out, we have left quite a few things in taxis over the years. This summer Mary left a bag containing two blown glass bugs that we had just purchased at an art fair, a huge loss considering they were handmade and very one of a kind. Her beloved doll Molly lost a fine pair of shoes a few months ago when she apparently kicked them off on the short ride downtown, to lunch at the American Girl store, and then had to suffer the indignity of lunch without shoes. A few years ago Mary left her brand new hand me down purse, a sassy red and white gingham sized just for her, in the back seat when we got out for dinner. The biggest lost there, other than my purse, was the treasures she had stored inside: a bracelet she made with buttons, an acorn from Michigan and a coin purse brought home from France by Uncle Ed. As always we hoped that the driver might find the purse and stop back at the restaurant where he dropped us, but he did not. It seems that what stays in the taxi, well, stays in the taxi.
But not always. Last week a man appeared in the library, a gruff looking guy wearing jeans and a Bears jersey. He smelled like smoke and looked like he was about to yell at me.
"Are you the librarian?"
He handed me a book.
"I dropped off two kids here this morning, I think one of them left this in the back of my taxi".
"What? Is that a problem?"
No sir, no problem at all, something much more like shock, and gratitude.
It's a scramble each spring, a wild hunt for each overdue book, in hopes or reclaiming every one before the school year ends. Children transfer or move away, and their books go with them. Some just don't bother to return them, for reasons I will never understand.
My message is very clear: having a library is a privilege and these books are here for everyone. If you take a book and don't return it, you are preventing your friends from enjoying that book. Libraries provide a wonderful lesson in community and sharing, in responsibility, and in taking care of things that belong not just to one but to all.
Great thanks to the stranger who took the time to do what so many do not, return a library book. What a decent guy.