I work as an on call girl. No, not a call girl, an on call girl. I'm like Batman without the cape: when someone in a library is in need, they send out the call and I ride to the rescue. Not in the Batmobile, sadly (that is one seriously cool car) but in my little red four door with a slow leak in the rear tire.
There is no beacon in the sky. Rather,my cell phone rings, and it does so unpredictably. The call might come the evening before, allowing for adequate preparation, mental and physical. Most often, the phone will vibrate its way across the bookshelf at 6AM on the morning of. The dissonant burring jump starts my adrenal system, jolting me awake, ready for emergency action. I stumble through a complicated automated menu with one eye half open (Batman never had to deal with telemessaging menus). I usually have an hour to find consciousness, ready myself, and find my way to the location. In case the math evades you, all this happens before seven o'clock.
It used to be if I didn't get an SOS by 6.30, I knew I was free for the day, secure in the knowledge that all was well in the world of libraries. Lately, however, the Library Girl To The Rescue Phone (LGRP) rings at any time. I might have planned for a day of laundry, meaning I am attired in an old dress I keep on hand for such occasions because it makes me feel like a hausfrau which helps me work more efficiently - and justifies the cake with a mid morning coffee. Every piece of clothing I've touched since the last laundry day is tangled together in baskets. When the call comes I must scramble to find something suitable to wear (again, no cape). Official superheroes have it so easy: step into a phone booth or descend to the cave where the required - if not stylish - outfit awaits. There is also an important decision to be made: to shampoo or not to shampoo. It may be there is no time, as my assistance is needed onsite immediately, so I am reduced to one of my sleight-of-hand hairdos. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. We all have a go-to ponytail or messy bun we use to camouflage the state of our hair.
Once there, I do what every librarian the world over does: impart a love of reading to all who enter, and help them find information about manatees. On really good days I have the opportunity to explain to someone the difference between the fiction books in the fiction section and the literature found in the 800s of the Dewey Decimal System.
I might be in the parking lot of Schmapters, or tramping through the woods far from home, but no matter where I am, when there is a call, Library Girl will answer. So you can rest easy: the books are safe.