“At The Library” came about when I tweeted about a CD I had on hold at my local library and Aaron, the man behind all this magical madness that is PCC, responded that it would make a good feature promoting local libraries and the music treasure troves that exist in many libraries. This open-ended topic leaves a lot of room for tinkering, so we’ll see what evolves. For the first post I witnessed something a little bit special this past weekend that I’m excited to share with you. I’ll be back next week with a new library story and you can always read more at my blog or find me on twitter too.
My local library happens to be the central Boston Public Library (BPL) smack dab in the center of downtown. I’m a huge fan of libraries and not just for the usual reasons like free access to thousands of books, music, DVDs, and free internet. I like the peaceful haven they provide as you wander the less sought out stacks looking at books that haven’t been touched in decades. I have lovingly referred to this particular library as my office during my time of unemployment; it was the best office I’ve ever worked in. And over the past few months I’ve learned that Saturdays at the library provide top-notch people watching fodder.
This past weekend I was perusing the CD section hoping to find something interesting when I felt someone stand uncomfortably close to me. I stepped over and stole a glance at a man in his sixties, slightly hunched, graying, suffering from what looked like tics in his arms. His hands were constantly shaking as he slowly flicked through the jazz section accidentally skipping over a few CDs at a time when his arm jerked. He seemed focused on finding something specific as he bent lower to get a better look.
Interrupting a stranger at the library seems like a brash thing to do, especially since Boston does not lend itself to uninvited small talk the way I imagine the South or Midwest would in this situation, but since I was somewhat working undercover for the PCC, I put my shyness and reservations behind me and figured I’d go for it. “Can I ask what you’re looking for, sir? I’m looking for a jazz recommendation” I meekly lied. My question was responded to with a gaze just shy of being friendly, as he looked me over, seemingly surprised that I was the source of the question. He muttered something unintelligible and dismissing. So I turned, red faced, back to my own flipping through CDs. A few seconds later his quivering hand was outstretched and grasping two scratched plastic cases. I took them in my hands and he said, “I wouldn’t share this with anyone honey, but there are two copies.” They were Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew. I recognized it immediately, my face lit up at his choice, and the strange interaction we were having, and I thanked him for sharing. Somehow my enthusiasm led him to share more, “You know,” he said slowly with a sly looking smile, “this is my medicine, the stuff the doctors give me doesn’t work like this.” I giddily bounced around for the rest of the day, high on the medicinal qualities of musical excellence.