Lunchtime yesterday: I was drinking a cup of coffee and reading Sticks in the Knapsack again in a little restaurant near the library. Two young women and an older (my age) woman were seated nearby.
"When we were in Ireland," one of the girls said, "people asked us what we were going to do for a living. We told them we didn't know yet. Then they asked us where we would live when we got out of school. We told them we weren''t sure about that either--there were so many places we liked."
"Yeah," said the other young woman. "They couldn't understand that at all. They told us that when they grew up they just did what their dad did, and they lived in the same place. They could not understand our freedom to just do what we want. If their dad was a plumber they would be a plumber."
Today: Once again I had work-release prisoners working with me in the book sale sorting area. One, a large young black man, said, "Hey, the dudes that was here last time said they got to take some books for free. Is that true?" Yes, I told him, you can have up to 5 books, whichever ones you want. "Cool," he replied.
As we packed boxes, I saw him selecting a book here and there. He paused when he came to the shelf titled "religion." On the shelf was a cedar box. He opened it and inside was a lovely bible and prayer book. He looked at me. "Can I take this?" Absolutely, I said.
We continued working, but I'd see the three men selecting books and setting them aside from time to time. One, a boy who looked no older than 18, was picking out books for a child. "My little girl," he said. "She likes books."
At the end of the work, the men shook hands with us, thanked us for having them and asked if librarians always worked so hard! Then they picked up their books. The young black man picked up his stack and hesitated. He counted--7 books. "I better put some of these back," he said.
I looked at his selections. The bible, a prayer book, a child's prayer book, a book about influential black religious leaders. One about the life of Jesus. Two others about religion.
"No problem," I said. "Go ahead and take them. We've got plenty."
He smiled and left.