Well, today was the start of my, “I have to completely conserve myself and take naps EVERY day at 3:00” plan for the two week lead up to Japan. Which of course was thrown out the window after I went to do a seating for a possible wheelchair for Japan (final fitting next Wednesday, gives a whole 2 business days extra….close, but hopefully, this will work). The oxygen, we just found out can be supplied in oxgyen in JAPAN, except, the courier costs are: $1400. So back to the $1,000 concentrator. Sigh. We order tomorrow.
Well, after the seating session in the potential wheelchair I got my ride to stop by CUPE, the local union of library workers who have been locked out by management. Because, the people who are housebound, and used to be supplied regularly with library books were heavy on my mind. These are those with disabilities and other conditions which means they are dependants for services like the library; I know how important distraction is during pain and times of being housebound. And for the last four weeks, they have had nothing. The CUPE office had moved but we got a number from the new residents (I found the office on my trip to the police station!). I called and gave my idea, which is to have bookstores donate a couple hundred books of popular genre (romance, action, mystery, science fiction) and then put an short article in the local paper telling people: While we, the library workers, are locked out, we haven’t forgotten those most dependant on these library services and if you were/are housebound and call this number, we will gets volunteers to deliver books to you (not lend, just give!). I figured it was a win/win, in that I get books to the people I can identify with, those housebound and in pain, and the librarians will get popular support by openly making sure the those without a voice aren’t forgotten.
The woman at CUPE said it was a great idea. I asked if I got the bookstores on board, could CUPE store the boxes there? I said this wasn’t a “library” operation, just a donation of books to be given to those who are housebound and in need. And that since the librarians, as part of the service to the housebound, did this before, they would know, from the names that came in, what types of books would serve each person best. The woman said, yes, CUPE could store the boxes and it was a great idea. I told her that I was going to the bookstores and she said she was going to the CUPE meeting to tell everyone.
I went to a new bookstore of a friend of mine, and though he doesn’t have a lot of stock, convinced him, as I was going to donate 100 books from my library to start the pile, to put is what he could, maybe 25 or 50. I tried a used mystery shop but it was closed on Monday. Then I was down to Pic-a-Flic, the alternative video store I go to, where I talked to one of the owners and said that if they had some doubles of DVD’s or some british stuff or even a few VHS, that the volunteers could offer people something to watch until the library came back in service (which may be a LONG time – as there has yet to be a story even about negotiations).
I offered to give them all the money I had left ($25) for what they could pick off the “for sell” section toward the cause. They said that they would find some stuff, and no, I could keep my $25. I asked them to call CUPE and tell them they were on board as I was worried CUPE might think I was "a nut with an idea" and this "real support from a real business" might keep them motivated.
Then I went down to Smart Books and after talking to them, I got them to agree that they could spare second and third copies of titles too. So it looked like getting the 500 books and 20-30 DVD’s to watch was going to be a reality. I was so excited, I wheeled home at 4:40 to call CUPE back.
I was told to hold as “I’m not the one dealing with that.” Then I got a woman who told me that while my desire was laudable it “had been determined that CUPE members are fully occupied with ending the strike and reopening services for ALL patrons.” I told her, I understand, but I waited weeks, since the library was closed Feb. 8th 2007, and the last I talked to CUPE library workers, the management wasn’t even talking to them, that there was no negotiation. Had this changed because I haven’t seen a single press release about negotiations OR opening the library? Again it was repeated that the library was not continuing services and ALL CUPE members time was best spent toward reopening the library. I repeated that a) The management locked them out and b) that these people had been weeks housebound without books. She directed me to a place called “It’s my library” in town which she said is, “Some people doing a blog or so such thing,” with a tone of derision. Hello, can I talk to someone from the 21st century, blogs do matter.
I talked to “It’s my library” and they completely support my idea BUT they are just a couple people who are setting up online petitions, a blog about rallies and places that people can show support for the library (why is CUPE dismissing these people?). So, no, they can’t help either. I then called the major churches who do outreach and tried to get home numbers for people until 6:00 when I was dragged to bed, a beaten woman.
I had used up my free day, I had two major attacks/collapses and now, I had these commitments from people, from businesses to help shut in’s get books (based on the relationship they had with me) only CUPE was now directing all inquires to….MY NUMBER. Sorry folks, I am severely disabled, not several hundred librarians who are, yes, out of work on union pay. I cannot store the books, I cannot sort the books, or arrange the volunteers, nor wheel over to give the press releases. I am not a one woman army – I did that today in getting the pledges for books and DVD’s. Indeed, the popular support was so strong that one person who just ‘overheard’ me talking about the idea, donated a book to me. Everyone that this was "a great idea." Not a single person turned me down, but I did have to plead and call in favors. But also while a "great idea" it is a great idea SOMEONE ELSE should run. So now, I am left with, a giant hole of finding someone to offer the storage space and take the calls; I will try the churches in the morning but I find that people saying “no” over the phone to someone you have no personal relationship with is EASY (at least for people saying ‘no’ to me). But I can't go around in person; I simply need to rest. Linda said, as she found me twice just staring into space, that this has to stop. We are going to Japan...not to the hospital, and if I don't focus on one, I will end up in the other.
Yes, I thought I might have changed the world for the better today......for a few hours, until that came crashing down. But, I am not the person who can save it.
Tomorrow I will call CUPE back and tell them that I will be appealing in the paper and that any reporter is going to ask me “What do the locked out librarians think of the idea?” And what do I say? The truth right now seems to be that the librarians don’t want to be PART of a bunch of volunteers who are handing out books to people who might be reading them as pain control, as ways to ease the isolation of being housebound; those with no voice. They are not donating the books, they are not part of the solution. And yet, they are expecting the city to rise up and CARE about THEM, that they are not getting paid enough. I guess I have to say, that when someone tells me that ALL their members are too busy to care about the people who relied on their services and now are unable to get out and get new books on their own. When they tell me that they are TOO busy to care about that, because they care so much about ALL the people who use the library to lift a finger for those in need RIGHT NOW. I feel the sympathy I have for them disappearing. Perhaps being a librarian isn’t a vocation then, and just a way to make money.
So I will call them tomorrow to give them one last chance to redeem themselves and put out a press release that lets US, the public know that they CARE about us as library patrons (so we can CARE about them, and their wages).
So no, I didn’t change the world for the better. But I tried, and right now, I feel a little broken. And I still have to go back tomorrow and face those I convinced today to pledge real donations and tell them, “Sorry, it is on hold for now.” And try not to think about those who are poor and housebound and waiting for someone.....who will never come, because we are all TOO BUSY.
6 hours ago