I thought the library was supposed to be quiet.
I went to the Bay Ridge Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Friday in search of some heat. Not in the form of racy novels, mind you, but real heat, as in the hot air that keeps you from freezing your ass off.
The heat in my building had gone belly up the night before and since I work from home, my office was getting chillier by the moment.
The repair guy got it running for a short time early Friday morning and I made the mistake of celebrating too soon, thus encouraging Fate, Karma, or whoever the hell controls the eternal thermostat to snort and shout “that’s what you think, skinhead!” before promptly shutting the boiler down again.
No problem, I told myself. I’ll just grab my laptop, skedaddle over to the neighborhood reading room and do my job on the fly.
Hell, I’ve written stories in airport terminals and hotel lobbies and conducted phone interviews in speeding taxies. The library is also where I developed my reading habit as a child, so this gig would be a bit of a homecoming.
Okay, well, it didn’t quite work out that way. First of all, the place was crowded and I had trouble getting a seat. Then there was a small army of toddlers running, screaming, and crying in all directions.
And on top of that there was a lady conducting an English conversation group for them what don’t know how to talk right.
But I accepted all that, particularly in light of that fact that I was feeling actual warmth. I knew I could handle the noise.
However the real problem was with my laptop, and more specifically…me. I had trouble getting into my company email account, which meant I couldn’t communicate with my editors or file my stories.
It’s the Latest, It’s the Greatest
You have signed out, the message on my screen read.
"No, shmuck, I didn’t sign out," I growled at the inanimate object.
True to form, my mind started churning out all these awful scenarios of missing deadline and getting in trouble. And then some little kid went completely over the wall and start screaming to hell and back.
This must’ve been the first time in my life that I ever wanted to be in an office.
I began cursing at my laptop, a habit I picked up from my Italian grandmother who used to tell the TV to shut up whenever it got on her nerves.
Finally I’d had enough. I was undoubtedly annoying people around me by adding to the noise level, so I slammed down the lid on my laptop and hightailed it back my igloo.
On the way home I grumbled about how unfair it all was and I reminded myself that the New Year wasn’t a week old yet and already I was giving the anger management resolution a hernia.
It was like I was playing a part rather than reacting with my true feelings.
My ongoing dread of technology is part of the problem, but only a small part. It’s this addiction to rage that I want to quell.
Anyway, I got to my apartment, kept on the sweater and the ski hat and got cranking on my stories.
The heat came back on at about 3:30pm and it stayed on this time, which is good as we had a snowstorm on Saturday and brutally freezing temperatures tonight.
And now I’m thinking of a homeless I see most mornings when I go to the gym who sleeps at the base of a street lamp at Broadway and Vesey Street.
He’s huddled under some rags with only a piece of cardboard separating him from the freezing concrete. I’m sure he’d be very happy to have a roof over his head, with or without the heat.
If I see him on Tuesday, I’ll be sure to say a prayer and put a dollar in his cup.