He could hear footsteps approaching the desk. He looked up, ―Do you know where I can find information on this textbook, handing him a slip of paper with a title.
―Um, like, where to find it?
―Yeah, I mean, how can I take this out of the library?
―You, uh, there’s a bunch of computers over there. You can look up the location in the catalog online. It’s the homepage.
―I don’t really know how to do that. I’ve never checked a book out here before.
―You just, you type this title in, the head bobbing before him. ―And it should bring up whether or not we have any copies.
―Do you want me to search this for you?
―Well not, like, I mean…
―I’m happy to, like, run a search for you if you’re unfamiliar with the system.
―Yeah, I mean, that’s great, but like, do you think there’s a way I could, like, try to rent this?
―We can loan it to you if we have a copy, yes…
―But I mean, see, the bookstore is out of it and I, like, sort of need it for a while to study for midterms and…
―You can check it out if we have a…
―Just if that’s possible, if somehow I could, like, just buy it for the semester and then maybe sell it back to you?
―I’m pretty sure no…
―No, but I mean, like what if I can just have a, like, extended loan.
―You can already have it unless another student…
―Oh, oh, yeah that’s cool. Yeah, let’s do it like that.
―Requests it, in which case you have a two-week window before it’s due.
―Is that okay?
―Do you want me to look this book up for you?
―Oh… I thought you already did.
―No, I’ve just been. Let me just… It appears somebody else actually has this title checked out.
―What do you mean?
―We only have one copy of the textbook. Probably, like, another one of your classmates…
―No, like, because we were supposed to buy the book. Like I’m pretty sure everyone has the book. For me, though, I didn’t know we couldn’t just get a PDF online, so I didn’t, like, get one before the bookstore returned their extra copies to the publisher. So I just need to take this one if that’s all right.
―No, but see, it’s been checked out. I can tell you the call number, but it’s currently not in the library.
―Unless the person like has it with them in the library? Or maybe they returned it today, like, can you check that?
―I don’t take care of returns.
―It should, like, be in the system, isn’t it?
―Not… Not here, not yet.
―So like what am I supposed to do?
―Would you like to request it from the current holder?
―Then it would be guaranteed for pickup within two weeks.
―But my midterm’s the day after tomorrow.
―I don’t really know what to…
―You’re sure they don’t have it. It’s not, like, a system error?
―It’s been checked out.
―Can you give me the location, if I want to, like, go look to see if it’s there.
―Okay, are you ready?
―Q, B, nine eighty-one, point J two seven four.
―Um, could you write that down. He wrote the call number on a piece from a pile of scrap paper in front of the student, sliding it back to him without eye contact. He navigated to Facebook, where he discovered a new notification. Someone had invited him to like a page, a band, the person’s band. He could see the student still hesitating over his workspace, staring at the piece of paper. Held closer as if a change in perspective might decode his idiocy. ―Uh, sorry, but, like, can you tell me exactly where this is?
―Ninth floor, without looking up.
―The ninth floor.
―Oh… He moved slowly away.