There I was, working at the library on a cold blustery Saturday. I'd gone out into the freezing cold and unlocked the green steel after-hours return bin. I'd filled a big blue IKEA shopping bag with all the books and DVDs that had been dropped through the door.
I'd hauled the bag back inside to the circ desk, separated and stacked the books and magazines and opened each of the DVD cases to be sure the disk was inside. I'd backdated the system and scanned the bar codes on everything to process the returns. I'd separated out the new books and put them back on the new shelf right away. I'd put the paperbacks, nonfiction, YA fiction, and hard cover fiction on their own areas of the return cart.
Then I noticed that one of the hardcover fiction titles on the cart appeared to have some crumpled pages or something, or at least the top of the book wasn't closed up tight.
I pulled the book off the cart, a James Patterson title, and took a closer look. Oh! Something was stuck inside the book. The book opened easily to the page where the object was wedged inside.
It is a kleenex. A crumpled kleenex. A crumpled kleenex with unidentified brownish substance clearly visible on its surface.
A crumpled kleenex with an unidentified brownish substance clearly visible on its surface that I prayed was the product of someone's late night reading session with leftover Valentine's chocolates.
I gingerly lifted the offending object out of book with thumb and index finger and dropped it into the garbage, then dove for the bottle of hand sanitizer.
Please, remove your personal items from your borrowed materials before you return them. Circulation clerks everywhere will thank you.