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Pay Your Fines or Pay The Price

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Samantha Lee
Samantha Lee

I am currently on the run.

This is not a literal, at-this-moment statement, as literally at this moment I’m sitting in my under heated apartment bemoaning the Arrival of Winter, listening to my neighbour attempting to build some sort of furniture, (not successfully, if the amount of tools being dropped is anything to go by) and writing this.

But I’m "on the run", specifically, because I haven’t paid my library fines and thus am in trouble with the library.

Now, I know what you’re going to say. “Unpaid fines that prevent you from getting that book out on Dog Food Buying For Dummies and How To Start a Revolution in Three Easy Steps? Pay your fines, or pay the price.”

I know, I know. But of the books that I had overdue one was really compelling in a this-is-so-fantastic-I-need-to-read-it-several-times-to-fully-grasp-its-brilliance kind of way, and the other was a this-is-such-a-famous-book-that-I-must-be-an-idiot-not-to-“get it”-so-I-better-read-it-again-and-search-harder-this-time-for-the-point type of read.

So it really wasn’t my fault they didn’t go back on time.

However, the library, when I explained this, didn’t really seem impressed with my argument, and told me I still owed them money. Mind you, they did let me get out more books with the promise of paying them in full next time. My Librarian Friend confirms this is because librarians are fantastic people that should not be taken advantage of, and because My Librarian Friend hides a scary and steely resolve under a warm and friendly personality, I agree wholeheartedly.

I’m also glad that due to this I’m only on the run metaphorically, as to my knowledge the library hasn’t hired anyone named Joey to ask me to sleep with various forms of sea life, or to make me an offer I can’t refuse. At the time of writing the library hadn’t yet established Mafia connections.

Anyway, I have a solution to the problem! I think there should be The Fatso Option, for people like me who for whatever reason have the mostly useless gift of procrastination, which only really has advantages on Sunday, the allocated Procrastination Day.

Fatso are an online DVD rental company, who let you choose options for DVD rental for a set fee per month- for example, for two DVDs at a time, four DVDs in a month, you get to pay $15.95 and never be charged a late fee. You can keep the DVD as long as you like, keeping in mind if you don’t send it back, you won’t be able to get anything out if you don’t return it.

Libraries should do this! I would happily pay to take books out, as long as I’m not charged a Remortgage Your House Fee (also known as the Noodles Forever Fee) upon returning it. This means procrastination is kept at a manageable level, and I wouldn’t have to stand in front of someone to explain why I haven’t been able to return a borrowed object on time (again.)

You’d think the fear of the "had to save kittens/ sister was in labour for twelve days/ allergic to deadlines" routine would make me return things on time, but all it really does is make me go to Borders and browse the Jodi Picoult section in a doomed attempt to avoid confrontation.

The Fatso Option means that Borders will only see me when the cool Charles Dickens covers come back (book jackets, not an attempt by an up-and-coming author to put their own spin on Oliver Twist); the library won’t have to pretend they understand why it was such a mission to return a book when plenty of other people do it every day and don’t lapse into catatonic schizophrenia; and I won’t have to sell off The Jodi Picoult Collection on Trademe to pay my fines.

See, so it works for everyone. Now, if only I could find a solution for the rent...

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