Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | November 3, 2011

Adulthood Meet Childhood, Childhood Meet Adulthood

So there I was, just sitting at the circulation desk working on some stuff when my otherwise innocuous morning was interrupted by some old dude coming up to the desk waving a piece of paper.

I’ll openly admit that whenever someone over the edge of 200 comes to the desk, I get a little worried that they’re going to be hella-confused and, quite likely, unwilling to listen to me explain things to them.

You see, most of the older folks we get at the library want you to give them exactly what they’re looking for and they want it that instant, even if it’s not an item that the library owns, or if it’s checked out to someone else, or if it’s stored in off-site facility, or if they haven’t published it in 100 years and/or if it simply doesn’t actually exist.

They also don’t like when you move things. The number of older patrons who have complained that we moved journals or books from where they used to be is astronomical. Seriously, it’s like six out of every two old people make that same complaint…and no, I didn’t get my numbers mixed up. It should be noted, that they’re usually annoyed that things have been moved because back during the Coolidge administration they used to know right where to go to find “that one red book about bridges or something” and now they’ve got to deal with the devil computers and the whole interfacetweetertubes-thing to find what they want.

You know, I seem to have gotten off on a tangent here. Let’s regroup, shall we?

Okay, so I’m at the desk and the old man walks up with his piece of paper in hand. He bypasses the whole formality of saying hello or politely asking for help or any of that jazz, and he jumps right in…

Mr. Arbuckle: “Can you tell me where this book is?!”

He hands me the piece of paper which contains merely three words: “FAT,” “CAT” and “DAVIS.” All three words are on different lines, so I can’t tell if they’re all supposed to go together or what exactly I’m looking at, as such, I inquired…

Cap’n Charisma: “Um…sure, but can you tell me what I’m looking at here? Is this all the title, the author, parts of the title, etc?”
Mr. Arbuckle: “It’s the book I want.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Right…I get that…”
Mr. Arbuckle: “So where is it?”

Rather than strike out and karate chop him in the larynx, I took a deep breath and composed myself to try once more to ascertain some legitimate information in order to get him on his way.

Cap’n Charisma: “Um…let’s see here, so “FAT CAT” is the title?”
Mr. Arbuckle: “I think so…”
Cap’n Charisma: “…and Davis is the author?”
Mr. Arbuckle: “Sure.”
Cap’n Charisma: “No, no…I’m asking you.”
Mr. Arbuckle: “Oh, well I don’t know for sure.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Alrighty…let’s take a peek.”

At this point, I figured I’d probably end up pummeling this guy with my keyboard if I didn’t get him moseying off into the stacks to find his book, so I went right into search mode. A mode which he found to be too lengthy and made sure to mention, repeatedly…

Mr. Arbuckle: “This is taking an awfully long time, can’t you just tell me where it is?”
Cap’n Charisma: “I’m sorry, but without more information, I can’t.”
Mr. Arbuckle: “…but I’ve got this.”

He held the piece of paper in front of my face again, apparently thinking that if he got the paper closer to my brain, I’d somehow magically know where the book was located.

(Author’s Note: This does not work, like, not even a little bit.)

Cap’n Charisma: “Right…but you don’t know the full title or the author, so that doesn’t give me a whole lot to work with. Do you know what the book is about? Do you know what “FAT” and “CAT” are acronyms for? That might help. I’m not getting anything useful searching for either one alone and together, all that pops up is an electronic resource that is described as “a satire against the Duchess of Kendal.”
Mr. Arbuckle: “…huh?!”
Cap’n Charisma: “Yeah and none of the “FAT” or “CAT” references match up with “Davis” as the author. So, yeah, do you know what the acronyms are for?”
Mr. Arbuckle: “No, they’re not acronyms. It’s about a fat cat.”

There was a brief pause in our conversation as I realized this dude wasn’t looking for some sort of engineering book laden with acronyms or any sort of funny computer language, we was looking for a fucking Garfield Fat Cat 3-Pack.

As a kid, I plowed through the Garfield Fat Cat 3-Packs like they were McRibs and I was, well, me…

So I politely asked…

Cap’n Charisma: “…sir are…are you looking for a Garfield comic book?”
Mr. Arbuckle: “Yes! That’s the fat cat’s name! I can never remember!”

I did some rudimentary searching using “Garfield” and “Jim Davis” and found four comic books in our graphic novel collection. It wasn’t quite the Fat Cat 3-Pack he was hoping for, but I assumed it would keep him happy and content for all the live long day.

Once he’d left in search of his comics, I took a brief second to wonder how something so beloved from my childhood could cause so much strife in my adult life.

Before I could dwell too much on the happenstance, however, some student came to the desk asking if I could help him find the book he’d checked out last semester.

He didn’t know the author or the title…but he knew it was green.

…or maybe greenish-blue.

This is my life.



  1. I knew as soon as I saw FAT CAT and DAVIS that it had to be Garfield. I had a bit of a Garfield problem as a kid too


    • Yeah, I wish it would have clicked that fast for me too. I’ve gotten so used to assuming everything is some sort of ridiculously nerdy acronym that the obvious answers have vanished…*sigh*

      Although props on the Garfield love!

      I assume you’ve seen Garfield minus Garfield


      • I had not seen Garfield minus Garfield. It’s hilarious. He looks like a lunatic without the cat in the frame.


      • Also – it’s a tad surprising that someone was at a science library looking for Garfield books. Makes sense that you were looking for something a bit more scholarly. I guess we don’t have a copy of Garfield Loves Quantum Mechanics


  2. I was really afraid that you were making a Fatty Arbuckle reference, which would have taken this whole story to a very unhappy place. I can’t even tell you how relieved I was to figure out it was just Garfield.


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