Friday, October 11, 2013

Please, Let Us In

I'm not sure why Brandon Mull's Fablehaven sat on our bookshelf for so long before Jack and I picked it up to read together. We even have an advanced reading copy that came out before it was published in 2006. We're about halfway through and have found it hard to put down at night.

And I've even met Brandon Mull as I've worked at various events, including a writing conference for kids at our high school and a presentation he gave at our library. Extraordinarily nice person.

When we started reading the book, I remembered an incident that happened when he came to the library. Over the past few years, I've thought about it from time to time, trying to untangle it.

Somehow I ended up standing guard at the front door of the library after we closed that Saturday afternoon. Quite a few people were still inside, standing in line to get their books signed. As a volunteer, I was instructed to turn away anyone who tried to come in. Before I was left alone at my post, a number people showed up to meet Brandon and the library director wouldn't let them in. The line was drawn.

A few minutes later, a mom and her kids showed up. She said they'd been at the event earlier and had to run home to tend to a sick child. I saw her son's pleading face. But we'd already turned people away. It wouldn't be fair to them to make an exception. I also knew first hand what is was like to be at the managing end of an event like this, trying not to impose too heavily on a well known author's time. Brandon Mull was already being gracious by staying much later than planned for us.

So I didn't let them in. (I still hate the feeling I had at that moment.)

Another few minutes passed, and the mother and children showed up with a senior library employee. He let them in, and apologized for overriding my decision. She looked directly at me. I'd like to think she wasn't glaring. I wonder if she knew that I wasn't offended at all. I was just really happy her son would meet Brandon and have his book signed.

As someone without authority, I was following orders. It took someone with authority to make a different call.

I will continue thinking about this incident from time to time, trying to untangle it.

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