Let me explain. Back in the day, a patron in a bookstore would have the opportunity to flip through pages of several books – quietly. The sound of an occasional throat clearing or of books being plopped back onto a shelf was just about the only thing heard. The smell of paper and leather were the most intoxicating scents in the building.
Today, the bookstore has become a social hub. Chairs and nooks now teem with patrons who use laptops and smart phones for their reading. Coffee and pastries, and candied treats are sipped and smacked with such abandon and wild finger licking that I fear touching anything. Conversations are no longer muted. Cell phone users seem ignorant of the fact that their conversation is NOT of great interest to anyone outside of their circle. They come in, spread out, and turn that little corner of former silence into their office.
I saw a young mother struggling with two toddlers and an infant in a stroller as she tried in vain to find a place to sit. She carried a stack of children’s picture books in one arm as she went from spot to spot in search of a peaceful moment to share with her family. Her face showed her torment, a look I knew well when I was raising my own family. Seeing her plight, I approached a group of nesting young adults who clearly disdained the concept of being polite, and I unleashed a menopausal fury upon them. I suppose that to them I looked like Medusa, because they soon vacated their dorm room, leaving their mess behind. The inner-mom in me wanted to make them come back and clean up their mess.
As I walked away, I watched as that young mother sat, placed her toddlers in her lap, and opened a book as she took a deep breath and relaxed. I was glad to help her find that rare moment in her day. Outside in the parking lot I began to wonder how many of my readers are rude E-book readers. Do you perch yourself in public places and sprawl out without regard of the feelings of others? Please, the next time you’re engrossed in a book, take a few moments to look around. The organic world still exists outside of our gadgets, after all.