My library card was taken away from me as one would take away TV or dessert privileges from a child after they repeatedly didn’t follow the rules.

I did follow the rules (kind of).

I never lost a book or stole a book or spilled coffee all over a book. I brought back every single book I ever checked out – just on my own time, not theirs.

If my mom reads this, (Hi Mom), she’ll tell you I’m lying. There are 5 books I checked out in 1998 from the Palm Beach County Library that I still have not brought back. I checked them out on her card, (thanks Mom), and she gets a stern talking to every time she steps foot in their doors.

They want their books back and I’ll bring them back, one day soon.

Everyone has a “history” and this post is strictly talking about my history at the NY Public Library – so let’s forget about that.

When I go to the library, I wear a hoodie and sunglasses. Sometimes I read entire books on the floor of the non-fiction section because I know If I try to check them out, I’ll be escorted out of the place.

The other day, I tried to check out twelve books. The lady behind the counter scanned each book and placed them in my reusable Trader Joe’s bag. Then she scanned my card. Sirens went off. Lights flashed. A homeless man sleeping in the book-on-tape section woke up from a deep slumber and said, “Huh?”

“You have excessive fines,” she said. “I can’t let you check any of these books out.”

“Don’t you think that’s a bit excessive?” I said, laughing.

Her lips didn’t move. She was silent.

“You have two choices. You can go to an ATM and withdraw the money you owe or you can go home.”

As the line behind me grew longer, I reached inside my bag and removed the books, one by one.

Eventually, I found a way to pay my fines….thank you, American Express credit card.

When I went back for my dignity, and my books, the lady eyeballed me up and down and said, “I can’t let you have them.”

My face turned watermelon red.

“Your card has expired.”

She asked for proof that I lived in NYC. But my license still says Florida and I’ve already tossed out all of my credit card bills on the 1st of the month.

So I pulled out a half-used Starbucks napkin and I wrote this on it:

Proof I Live in NYC

1. I know to avoid Times Square…always

2. I had to empty my 401k in order to pay last month’s rent

3. When I get my clothes out of the dryer and I find someone else’s sock mixed in with my clothes, I consider that a win-win situation

4. I know the G train, and the guys in the black cars who honk when you’re trying to hail a cab, will never take me where I need to go.

5. I live in the living room of my apartment and pay the same amount each month that some people pay for a 4-bedroom house mortgage.


I handed it to her in the same way someone would hand over their passport or social security card.

Her lips didn’t move. She  didn’t say a thing.

I started my walk of shame toward the exit sign when all of a sudden I heard a small roar of giggles trail behind me.

“Let her check out one book as a reward for this…this thing she tried to do.”

I went back to the desk, grabbed The History of Love and marched out of that place.

They’ll want their book back, and i’ll bring it back, one day soon.

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I’m Jen Glantz. I’ve been a published writer for over 13 years, spilling my words into magazines (ranging from style to scuba diving), newspapers, websites and even this one time, a speech, for someone who didn’t speak a word of English. What drives my words, my site, my writing, is the power of relating to people. I find that many people, especially young girls, feel so alone and quite often they feel embarrassed. I want to shatter those feelings! I want them to read what I write and understand that it’s okay to be a little outside of the box, but most importantly, that it is okay to just be who they are.

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