Life’s little ironies: you never know when another one’ll spring up to fuddle, astonish, perplex, or annoy.

At present, we organize our Poetry, Drama, & Literature under the generic number ‘800.’ What separates the stuff is genre labels. It’s a book store arrangement, of sorts. But it beats holy hell out of the strict & kinda bizarre Dewey classification of all authors under country of origin. These days, many inmates cannot tell you Shakespeare’s country of origin. I say this because recently I quizzed several dozen men to see what the response would be. Over 60% of those quizzed couldn’t tell me. Many men answered “I have no idea.” So I’m glad for the bookstore approach.

But now my cataloger’s questioning it, because the new clerks don’t always pay close attention to genre labels, shelving stuff where it ain’t s’posed t’go & mixing Shakespeare with Robert Frost or Jane Austen.

knee jerk

So we’re out there, looking at the 800s, and the cataloger says: “We got 18 shelves of Literature, four shelves of Poetry, and four of Drama. Why don’t we just make new numbers for Poetry & Drama? Like 800.01 for the poetry books & 800.02 for the plays.” I told him, in my knee-jerk style, that I am tempted to knee him for being a jerk for proposing a solution that silly. Says I: “Get out the Index, like you normally do, and find the generic numbers for Poetry & Drama. We’ll use those.”

He does. He comes to me, book in hand, and a most aggressive grin on his face. The grin I’ve seen before. It’s one of a species of grins that tells me I need to wipe egg off my face. Sure enough: the generic numbers for Poetry & Drama, respectively, are 800.01 and 800.02.

Of course they are! How silly of me!

I’m still not going to use them.