"I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial." --Cassio, Othello
In my email box (e-mailbox?) this morning, I noticed a message from the local library. This in itself is not surprising. These days, nearly all borrowing business in the library system I frequent is conducted via digital platforms: online catalogs, self-checkouts, automatic renewal or return notices. While the books are -- or can be -- actual, everything else in the transaction leans virtual.
This particular bulletin contained the following chilling sentence: "Library item(s) checked out to your card have exceeded the due date by more than 7 days." Overdue book? Anathema to this responsible library citizen! I racked by brain about the title: Falling by T.J. Newman, a pulpy thriller about a plane hijacking, a "Lucky Day" non-holdable, non-renewable title that I had checked out as entertainment for my wife, then couldn't resist devouring myself. I had thumped that title into a book drop weeks ago, on a pre-dawn walk to catch the bus to school.
I needed to make a phone call. I needed to clear my at-least-in-this-context good name from further besmirchment. (Cue another Othello quote, via Iago: "Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.") I navigated a pleasantly brief voicemail menu in order to reach an actual member of the library staff. The proffering of my library card number and an explanation of the circumstances was enough -- for now -- to erase the stain on my record and scramble minions in some biblio-bowels into searching for the wayward title. I hope they find it; my tenuous reputation hopes I don't.