"The man who doesn't read," someone once said, "is no better off than the man who can't." 'Tis true. 'Tis true. And 'tis equally true of the man who does not read carefully. That truth smacked me across the face not once but twice within forty-eight hours. And I was trying to get to the library both times. Strange, isn't it.
For some time now I've been telling myself I need a project. After several months of telling myself this, I got around to looking for one, and after a few more months of feigned thought and purposeful procrastination, I determined, one day last week, what the project should be. In the early 1990s, my byline appeared twice in Cobblestone, a history magazine for middle school kids. Why not see what I can do twenty years later, I thought. Being a thoroughly modern man, I went to the magazine's website and took a look at its theme list for the coming year. Saturday morning I found a couple topics I thought I could handle and checked the Ashtabula Library's hours on its website and found it was open from ten until two on Saturdays.
It was quarter of ten, so I powered up the wheelchair and headed to the library at a brisk two-and-a-half miles an hour. I haven't made many trips uptown in the wheelchair, so there was an element of discovery. What I discovered was, not all the sidewalks are ramped. Undeterred by this inconvenience, I managed to reach the library at quarter past ten. That's when I saw the sign on the door, and the sign said the library was open from eleven until four on Saturdays. I stared at it, uttered a few inappropriate utterances, checked to see what time the library opened on Monday and went back from whence I came.
At home, I rolled into the computer room and got on the library's website, determined to verify the webmaster's incompetence. There they were, the hours, in italics, just as I remembered them. But, beneath those hours, also in italics, was a note that those were the summer hours. Directly above the all the italics, in bold Times New Roman, the same print used for the other five days the library is open, the Saturday hours were listed as eleven until four. OK, I guess I should have given it a closer look the first time. But the library would reopen at ten on Monday, according to both the sign on the door and the information on the library's website.
When I got the library Monday morning, the parking lot was empty. Where are all the readers in this town? And the library employees, do they all walk to work? Perhaps they do, but they didn't on Monday. On the door, right above the sign with the hours was another sign: "We will be closed Monday, October 10, for Columbus Day," Too bad I didn't bother to read it on Saturday, October 8.