MANNA OVERBOARD: Or, “Who buys a VCR in the New Millennium?”

[In which your Beleaguered Instructor proves that he’s just bright enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth….]

My memory is shot. Nothing left. At all. How I think to post to this blog is anyone’s guess. How I know i HAVE a blog is even curiouser.

Today, I stopped by BSCC prison to pick up a donation of video tapes. These tapes were acquired through the previous BSCC Librarian, now retired. The arrangement was that A.D., the new librarian, was to meet me in the lobby at 1PM. Well, she didn’t. When she finally appeared, I found out why. I was a day early — which she promptly announced to every officer within earshot.

Thanks a bunch, A.D. Way to embarrass a future Alzheimer’s sufferer in front of his peers. And here EYE’m supposed to be the classless one     ;o)

But the donation was a pleasant surprise. A few days ago, A.D. said she needed to get rid of her remaining videos, mainly because they no longer had a VCR, weren’t gonna buy no VCR, and anyway they have DVDs and PlayAways aplenty. Her guess was that the tapes numbered “around forty or so.” Correction: there’re around ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY or so. So it turns out that I can’t tell time, and A.D can’t count. Perhaps this is why we’re both people-persons?

Of course, while transporting the three boxes of tapes from the Library to my car on a flatbed dolly, I made the mistake of complaining about the flattened disk in my lower back (it was rainy and humid, so sue me). A.D., who is by nature kind and considerate, started treating me with a kind of motherly solicitude, in the manner of a 1st-grade teacher caring for a child with a bloody nose. There’s a certain condescending singsong lilt to the tone of a young lady’s voice when dealing with a man twice her age; I’m suffering that lilt more and more these days, AND IT SUCKS. When A.D. broke out ‘the lilt,’ I concluded No matter how many times I hear that, IT WILL ALWAYS SUCK.

The tapes are now in the Bundle Room awaiting the requisite paper work to enter Norfolk. Before I left these boxes with the Bundle Room officer, we discovered several tapes that needed to be removed before the boxes could be approved to be sent inside. Because of a contract the Department signs with the vendor who supplies our prisons with films, we’re not allowed to offer the inmates anything approaching entertainment in their libraries. So out went Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood, Big Trouble in Little China, the Marx Bros.’s A Night at the Opera, Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, Buster Keaton’s The General, a New England Patriot’s Super Bowl tape, and an Amos & Andy episode.

videotape pile

The question is — what was the previous Librarian doing with entertainment videos? By policy, she wasn’t allowed to have them, and she knew it. Do you get the feeling that DOC employees sometimes break the rules? Well, they do. And Librarians aren’t immune to this temptation.

FOR THE RECORD — You shouldn’t break the rules. Seriously. Because the consequences are bad if you do.

The tape that really flummoxed me was the Amos & Andy episode. Amos & Andy? What was she trying to do, start a riot?

We also removed two Bugs Bunny tapes. Understand: I have nothing whatsoever against Bugs Bunny. Like the Three Stooges, Bugs has helped pull me through five (5) decades with some of my sanity still intact. But how in the Wide World of Sports did this Librarian get these things in the library? I’ve got a tremendous amount of chutzpah, but even I can’t imagine smuggling Bugs Bunny cartoons into an adult male medium-security prison. (BTW — Bugs came home with me, where I’ll watch him with the kids. The prisoners can be content with Nova and the Discovery Channel and PBS and National Geographic specials).

I still can’t believe my staff and I are excited to be given another slew of video tapes in a span of 10 days. VIDEO TAPES, for cryin’ out loud, 60 years after their invention. It’s just wrong. But these things will see steady use. Beggars/choosers, and all that.

Thanks, A.D., for your beneficence. But stop it already with the lilt.