December 10, 2007 at 1:45 pm (The Easy Chair)

With no civil penalties!

Regular readers will be happy to know that I skated Scot-free on my recent library dilemma involving the OJ Simpson confession book. (Um, hypothetical confession.) I knew there’d be trouble when OJ started talking about having an accomplice on that fateful night, an accomplice named Charlie. Sure enough, I’d come into possession of the book under suspicious circumstances. I had to make it right, but was afraid of consequences.

After watching No Country for Old Men at the Fox Tower, I went up the street a few blocks to the main library. I scanned the customer service desk, looking for a librarian with a sense of humor, or at least a smidgen of compassion. The guy who looked the coolest was helping a young girl with her first library card, and checking out a stack of books 20-30 tall. (I’d hate to see her civil penalties!) Another gal took one look at me, put up her ‘Closed’ sign and disappeared. Fine! She had a look of no mercy about her anyway.

Which left me with a young African-American woman. OJ was a hot-button race issue back in the day. Would she understand? Either way, I had to get this done.

“Um, hi there,” I began. “I have a bit of a situation. A ‘friend of mine’ picked this book up for me a while back, and I think he forgot to check it out. When I looked online, it said it was still on the shelf. It’s probably overdue by a couple weeks, but I couldn’t tell you how much.”

“Let’s see…” She scanned the book, and asked for my name. I told her. “Is your friend’s name Raoul?”

“No, it’s Weird Steve-” I started laughing. She knew the OJ story pretty good. “Nope, no Raouls. But I could be the mysterious Charlie OJ is trying to lay blame on…”

She held up the book, with her thumb over the tiny ‘If’. The title now read ‘I Did It.’ “We all know…”

She smiled, putting the book aside. “You’re off the hook, mister. According to the system, the book is missing. And now it’s not. Thanks for bringing it back.”

“No late fees?”

“Nope. You’re getting off, Scot-free.”

I liked the sound of that.

OJ’s civil penalties are up to $48 million, last time I checked. Considering the level of transgression, that sounds about right.

I thought briefly of browsing for a book, but decided to leave well enough alone. I’d skated once today, no sense taking chances getting myself into another pickle.

Too bad OJ couldn’t have shown such restraint…

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