The Captain and the Communists
A couple weeks ago I put out the ol’ all-call for interesting post ideas. Today, we have our winner. And it turns out to be a familiar face. I wrote about Canadian children’s librarian Lucas Maxwell a little while ago after learning of his genius idea for celebrating a library birthday. He ended up submitting a post, and it was funny, bizarre, and library-related. In short: everything I hoped for.
What follows is his true tale of The Captain and the Communists.
At the public library I once worked at there was a man that would come in almost every night. He was very small and thin and always wore a navy blue blazer with gold buttons and a white captain’s hat with a black bill and gold symbols on it.
He would come in and sit in the children’s section, quietly reading a few pages from the dictionary and then leave.
I never had any interaction with him whatsoever and only referred to him as “The Captain.”Then one evening we had a group that was representing our province’s Communist party come to the library for a meeting.
As I was assisting them set the room up for the meeting I heard a piano being played at the back of the room. I went back there andÂ sitting at the very old and misused piano was “The Captain”, playing a tune that wasn’t very good but was so soft it didn’t grate on you either.
I approached him and said “I’m sorry sir, we don’t allow people to use this piano, there’s a meeting happening in a few minutes as well.”
He continued playing, but said to me “Are you the manager?”
I said “No.” (Why I didn’t just say “yes” I’ll never know)
He just smiled and kept playing.
I then said: “Sir this room has been booked and the piano isn’t really for public use.”
He said: “Then why you got it here then?”
I said: “It’s just been here for over 30 years, but the point is -.”
He said: “No, the point is, you got a piano and I got time to play..”
And he continued to play. I left him alone for a few more minutes, deciding what to do. The manager was not working that evening and I didn’t feel like causing a huge scene and forcing the guy out for something so ridiculous.
Considering I had seen him at the library for close to year and this was the first time I had even spoken to him I decided to try a different route.
I approached one of the the local Communists, who happened to be sporting a stereotypically massive beard, and said to him: “Look, I’ve got an interesting situation here, there’s this guy, he’s in the meeting room you’ve booked and he’s playing the piano and won’t stop. He’s pretty much harmless, I mean, he usually just reads the dictionary and for some reason has picked this exact moment to play the piano, are you guys ok with having him in there?”
The Communist guy just shrugged and said “I don’t care man, whatever.”
I said: “Awesome, thanks very much.”
And that was that, as I walked by the room later on I heard the heated, rowdy discussions and debates pertaining to the Communist agenda in our country while a man dressed as a sea captain tinkled softly on the keys of a rotten old piano that hadn’t been played in 30 years and I thought, it can’t get much weirder than this.
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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