The Moving Word

Writer, Preacher, Bookworm, Student of the Word

What is Library Protocol?

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During a recent trip to the Savannah library, I was doing research on a writing project, and I noticed a woman at a nearby table. She had her computer, papers, phone, phone charger, etc. spread out before her.

About an hour later, she wandered off to answer a phone call. I kept working until it was time for me to go to lunch and some appointments. However, phone lady had not returned.

I faced a dilemma. She had not actually glanced my way or acknowledged me at all. Still, I felt somewhat responsible as a kind of steward of her stuff.

Minutes crept forward, and she failed to return. I reached the point of no return and began to pack my stuff. As I walked past her empty table, I noticed she had receipts spread around.

Just then, she wandered past without glancing at me. I said that I had kept a watch on her stuff. She initially ignored me, then tossed a faint “thank you” at my back.

Why would a woman come to the library and walk away from her stuff for 30-45 minutes while her computer, financial information and possessions were available to anyone who came along?

No one talks about library protocol between strangers. What do you do with an unspoken or unacknowledged bond? You want to be a good person, but you can’t stay there forever waiting on them.

Has anything like this happened to you? Do you feel an obligation to keep a watch over other people’s things?

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4 thoughts on “What is Library Protocol?

  1. I found a neighbor’s cat wondering in the hallway of my apartment building. I invited him/her into my apartment. My cat had a problem with this arrangement. I ended up having my cat in one room while the other cat was in the living/kitchen area. I left a note on the two doors of my apartment building. Like you, I struggle with how long I stay home and wait to see whose cat it was.

  2. I think you’re lucky the woman didn’t scream at you for violating her “space.” When I was teaching, the high school kids would cluelessly leave their backpacks, expensive electronic toys, even their wallets lying around and sometimes never came back to retrieve them. I usually stepped in and picked them up before they got stolen. This activity was dangerous because the other kids (often the ones who wanted to steal the items) would accuse me of stealing or trying to snoop. In my neighborhood, if you leave something outside for fifteen minutes–people have to chain up even heavy outdoor furniture–it will likely disappear, but if I see a neighbor leaving something on a car seat and walking away and I warn them, they give me filthy looks like I should mind my own business.

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