Pennsylvania is experiencing the cold and gray time of year. Soon I will head south to Key West. For now, I am handling a case of the seasonal blergh until I can force myself to be ready to get out of here.
My intention was to buckle down about the business of buying and selling books. The more I do now, the stronger my safety net later. With this in mind, I made a telephone call. I asked some lady at the library if the book sale area was open again. She sounded like she was getting a call from an asshole with four heads. I repeated my inquiry slowly and clearly - how is this a difficult question!?
"Is the friends of the library book sale area open again?"
Maybe I spoke too quickly. I certainly wasn't mumbling, and I was definitely speaking English.
"... It hasn't been open in awhile, I am asking if it is open again?"
The library has been under renovation for almost a year. Surely she knows that.
"Are there books for sale there?"
She sounded confused and slightly fearful. Like I was asking if it was a good time to kick in some doors and rob the place.
"I want to buy books."
I literally said this slowly and calmly. It's hard to be much clearer than that.
I hate phones, but I can't take responsibility for any confusion on this call. What is it about me? In person, I might understand - some hipster looking jackass with a mohawk and neon glasses might catch somebody in bumblefuck off guard. Conceivably. Fuckit. I'm doing my best.
As it turned out, the book sale area was not open, but it would be open for a sale in two days. Getting this information was like tapping a maple tree for syrup. Two days passed, and now it is today. I arrived right when the library opened, and within five minutes I knew it was good. There was nobody else who appeared to be a book dealer, and I got a few hits right away. I worked steadily for four hours and did what I call due diligence. When the going is good, it pays to be thorough. When the books seem lousy and picked over, it is easy to become discouraged. That did not happen today.
I saw a boring hardcover book by Richard Nixon. No barcode, so checking potential value would require typing in the ISBN. Books by or about presidents almost never hold any value. But there was a slipcase, which adds interest, and I didn't feel rushed. I slipped the book out of its case, and opened it to locate the ISBN. Ha! Richard Nixon autographed this copy. That went right in my bag. Then I found another one - signed by Richard Nixon as well. Later, I found a third. Three different books, two in immaculate condition in their slipcase.
The gray sky and cold air felt like bullshit as I left. But three books autographed by a dead president took off the edge.