Sometimes the best way to avoid late fees at the library is to write Dark Knight Rises/ Pokemon crossover fanfiction. You might say it’s super-effective.
I recently missed a flight with Southwest Airlines due to my own negligence and stupidity when forgot I was supposed to go somewhere until two days after the flight had departed. Full of sads, I sent them an email explaining the situation (Neil in Utah + flight = Neil still in Utah) and basically just asked if they would give me a refund. You know, for being stupid. Some days later, I was pretty dang excited when they granted my request. They thanked me for the “humorous” email and said they’d found a way to get me some dinero.
Now, I’ve sent emails like this before. I’ve emailed total strangers things like “I too dream of an idyllic world, one where all ones dreams of delicious food come true, especially the part about unlimited Creamies in every fridge; but alas, the cold knives of reality stab at the Moonrise Kingdom.” I’ve concocted stories about groundhogs, hilbillies and Dragonball Z to sell housing contracts. My favorite weasel-out-of-fines story, though, took place last August.
Bla bla boring backstory scroll down for killer pandas
I’d checked out an amazing book—Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson—and then gone out of town for a few weeks on a trip. While I was gone, the book was unexpectedly recalled and I was informed by my college library I would be assessed a late fee if I didn’t get it back reaaal quick. I was over eight hundred miles away in Seattle, so I emailed them and asked for some extra time. They consented, but in the end I still didn’t turn the book in was justifiably assessed a late fee of ten dollars. Miserly to a fault, I decided to appeal to their better nature. The following set of emails is the result.
|to: library holds|
Dear Top Secret Library Holds Agents,
(Too Long; Didn’t Read at the bottom)
My name is Neil Reed and my student number is [such and such]. I have checked out, among other books, Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance. Since it’s in high demand, my due date was moved from August 22 to August 13 (today) at 11:59 PM. Normally, returning a book to the library is simple, but for the last two weeks I have been out of town in southern Utah, Oregon and Washington and have therefore been physically unable to return WoR.
I won’t be able to return it before the due date, but I will be able to bring it in before 5 PM on Friday since both I and the book will be back then.
When I called Circulation and tearfully explained to them my hopeless plight, they informed me with due gravity of the automatic $10.00 late fee that should soon appear on my account and warned me I’d basically get to buy the book a week from today if I still didn’t return it. Since it’s a phenomenal book, I don’t think this is as grave a threat as they suppose, but hey, I get the message.
They did, however, tell me that on occasion you at library holds give people a couple of days’ extension on the recall date in order to get books in on time. I therefore humbly request two days’ clemency—through the end of Friday—so I may return the Words to you as soon as I am able. But should you not accept my peasant’s plea, I shall accept my grim fate with solemnity and shed a single tear all the colors of the rainbow. (It will turn into a jelly bean.)
Can I get a couple extra days on my recall date? I’ll bring the book in Friday. But if not, that’s OK too.
As you are out of town, will only be a few days late, and provided this hilarious email, we will forgive your recall fine if you return the book, Words of Radiance, by Friday, 8/15/2014. If you do not return the book by Friday, you will be billed the recall fine. A note has been placed on your account to forgive the fine, but your account is blocked and a bill will appear until you return the book. Thank you for contacting us. Sorry for any inconveniences we may have caused.
Holds and Faculty Delivery
At this point I am unable to turn in the book because of weird library hours. I decide drastic action is necessary.
The doors to the grimy hall were flung open. A man dressed in a green tunic and leather cap was dragged in, his body limp.
“What’s this?” asked a sallow, thin man seated at a makeshift judge’s podium crowning a massive heap of crushed furniture.
“Last night’s trash,” responded the bailiff, a swarthy, smelly man with a lip plug he’d fashioned himself out of what might have once been a gerbil.
“Why’s he out? Did you club him?” asked the thin man, more out of boredom than curiosity.
“Maybe once or twice.”
Just then, the man began to stir. As he regained consciousness, he fixed his bleary eyes on the judge. “Scarecrow?”
Scarecrow ignored the man’s question as he began to speak.”Neil Reed, you know why I have been brought here today to this court of law,” gesturing grandly to the rubbish piling the sides of the room. “You promised to have the Words back.”
Neil began to protest. “But…”
“You agreed in writing. Friday night at 11:59 PM, wasn’t it?”
“Yet you withheld your valuable item from the rest of us and so we were left wasting, wandering, as we were without the Words.”
Neil furrowed his brow at Scarecrow’s impressive use of alliteration. “But…I tried to return the Words…the building was locked completely at 6:00 PM. I pounded on the door… there was no reply!”
Scarecrow leaned over his pulpit, his eyes alight with a sneer that pierced his thick glasses and greasy bangs. “Is it the court’s fault that you didn’t check the hours of the building?”
“No, no I didn’t say that, but–” blurted Neil, an edge of panic in his voice.
“I did return the Words, though! First thing, Saturday morning as soon as I could.”
Scarecrow began to stroke a thick tome on his pulpit. “So you did… so you did.”
Neil gave a surprised yelp as he noticed.
Scarecrow sneered. “Too late, though. That was your last chance. Now you will be judged for your crimes–”
“the court has found you–”
Neil sobbed and sank into his rickety chair.
With faux gravitas, Scarecrow pronounced the verdict.
“Your sentence is a choice: Death…or exile.”
Neil had seen the exiled prisoners. Their lives had lasted just slightly, horribly longer than the ice on which they stood.
“Well?” Scarecrow demanded.
A glint of something desperate, still clinging to hope flashed in the battered peasant’s eyes.
“I choose…”Neil began…”Death…by EXILED PANDA!”
The bailiff roared and grabbed at the rough fabric of Neil’s tunic, but the ragged peasant danced out of reach, his feet suddenly nimble.
“I CHOOSE YOU, EXILED PANDAMON!” He whipped a Pokeball from a fold of his clothing and tossed it before the judge. The red and white ball burst asunder with a blinding flash and a guttural roar shook the hall. An enormous, scarred panda lumbered out of the brightness, the light in its eyes glowing dangerously. It’s fur was ragged and torn where old wounds had not quite healed right. The panda also sported a gargantuan bunch of facial hair.
The ragged peasant danced out of reach, his feet suddenly nimble.
“He’s the last of his kind,” said Neil. “He grew a beard as soon as he could to cover the scars on his face, and always urged his men on.”
Scarecrow, horrified at the beastly apparition, could not help but notice the overall effect meant the monochrome bear kinda looked just like Shan Yu, mixed with Zach Galifianakis.
“Let me go, and you might survive.” declared Neil.
Scarecrow remained impassive as Exiled Pandamon growled.
Neil went on. “He only obeys me, so if you don’t—”
His words cut off abruptly as he felt a sharp pain between his shoulder blades.
The gerbil plug-toting bailiff triumphantly pulled out the knife he’d planted in the peasant’s back with a schick! and Neil collapsed to the ground, wheezing. He looked up at Scarecrow,his eyes wild.
“You sly dog… you got me monologuing,” he gasped. As the blood spread down Neil’s back, he felt death near.
Scarecrow laughed. “Some panda.”
Neil’s eyes began to cloud over. “I will pay for my crimes…as you will for yours.” His eyes brimmed with moisture, and a single tear all the colors of the rainbow rolled down his cheek. As it dripped onto the floor, it turned into a jelly bean pulsing with brilliant light.
Mustering his wits in a final burst of lucidity, Neil picked up the radiant bean between his thumb and forefinger.
Scarecrow laughed. “Some panda.”
The grizzled bear turned to his dying master.
Neil flicked the jelly bean to the ursine behemoth who deftly caught and swallowed the bean. Its eyes began to glow furiously.
Scarecrow raised a wary eyebrow.
The bear reared onto it’s hind legs and gave an almighty roar. Its eyes flared to life and it began to blast lasers wily-nily through the hall.
As the moldering mounds of furniture and desks ignited under the panda’s withering gaze, the bailiff ran for the door—but alas, the bear proved too quick. As the air sizzled, the beefy man’s ashes fell to the ground in a pile. At the top of the heap of cinders, his emancipated gerbil lip plug smiled almost imperceptibly. Balance restored, it mused.
Truly, the attack was super effective.
Neil laboriously turned his head towards the podium to witness the corrupt judge’s subsequent downfall, only to see Scarecrow had fled.
“Pandamon…you know what to do. Goodbye, old friend.” With a very unromantic, spluttering but still terribly manly cough, Neil fell still at last.
The bear whined, licked him goodbye sadly, and lumbered out into the grimy city streets.
It was time for Gotham’s reckoning.
I tried to to turn in the book Friday evening at 7:00 but forgot the library closed at 6:00, at which time I was busy eating my seventh sugar cookie at my roommate’s graduation. I regret nothing. Nor do I ask for more clemency, having grimly (but theatrically) accepted my fate as previously promised. This email is a tribute to you guys and a note of gratitude for being so kind the first time around. Have a nice day. Steer clear of Gotham for a while. That bear’s got a temper hot enough to blow an ice monkey’s cool.
P.S. If you are unfamiliar with the Flight of the Conchords’ Albi the Racist Dragon, or Dispatch’s The General, I highly recommend them.
Thank you for providing that comedic story to make Monday morning BEARable. As you informed us of the mishap and because of the obscure library hours on Friday, we have forgiven your recall fine. Please feel free to email us anytime if you have any questions or concerns. Have a wonderful day!
Holds and Faculty Delivery
(Some months later)
Dear Moste Favourite Library Holds people,
It’s finals, which reminds me you never got to hear the final portion of the preceding story.
Scarecrow trudged heavily up the ridge in the afternoon light. Each step of his mailed boots maimed the bluegrass and fescue beneath his feet, and a slight breath of wind carried the sweet aroma to his nostrils. He inhaled slowly, savoring the verdant scent. He closed his eyes, and for a moment he felt as if he were back in the Gotham of hischildhood. Of course, Gotham in any form was a time and place far removed.
As surely as he’d risen to the top of Gotham’s refuse, he’d risen to the challenge in these new surroundings.
He had hardly believed his luck when he found the time rift in his frenzied flight to escape Exiled Pandamon. After his escape from the kangaroo court, the ravening kaleidoscopic killing machine had somehow tracked him through Gotham’s labyrinthine slums to a dead-end alleyway close to the river. He remembered his sheer desperation as he’d reached its terminus to find his escape blocked by a large, wooden fence. The furious roars of the Bearded Beast growing louder as it approached, Scarecrow had scrabbled frantically at a loose portion of soil at its base and wriggled through the ensuing hole to the other side… only to find a solid brick wall. Exhausted and not sure what to do, he slumped against the wall—
—and fell between, somehow, into a place of suffocating, cold nothingness. Ending as rapidly as it began, the moment ended and he emerged into reality again, slamming face-down into freshly tilled dirt.He came to slowly, the sun-warmed soil coaxing his body into wakefulness. When he finally dared to look up, he found neither Gotham nor bear but a place of verdant fields and greenery—astonishingly, Feudal Japan.
To say those first couple of years had been difficult and disorienting was an understatement, but as surely as he’d risen to the top of Gotham’s refuse, he’d risen to the challenge in these new surroundings. Just this week, his ferocity in battle and political savvy had earned him a position as the local daimyo’s most trusted samurai and advisor. He did miss Gotham on occasion, but life wasn’t too bad here. Also, sushi. The sushi was fantastic.
Scarecrow neared the crest of the hill. Just then, he thought he heard some sound, some noise, some thing off in the distance—but he shrugged it off. It was impossible, after all. That was so long ago, an alternate reality.
Then he heard it again. A roar, unmistakable this time. It couldn’t be. He halted just shy a field of wildflowers carpeting the alpine peak.
The ground trembling beneath the footfalls of a nightmare, Scarecrow stood motionless as the shaggy specter lumbered over the top of the hill. As Scarecrow turned to flee, he paused. Ten years ago, he would have run, but in that moment he was surprised to discover he was no longer that man. Slowly, deliberately, the samurai turned and drew his gleaming katana.
“Exiled Pandamon-san. We are well met.”
The bear’s chuffed in response.
Holding his sword aloft and closing his eyes,Scarecrow let loose the full-throated yell of a warrior. As the prismatic beam pierced him, the guilt and frustration of ten years on the run melted away to nothing.
Unfortunately, so did his body.
What shenanigans have you been willing to stage in order to avoid late fees?
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I once lived on BYU campus for a week, eating only nuts and berries I’d gathered myself. If you’d like to read about that, click ye olde words.