Happy Halloween

The year, 1993.
The place – a small, public library in south central Pennsylvania.

I was working as the cataloguer for a small public library in south central Pennsylvania. The library is housed in an 1880 mansion that was donated to the town for the purposes of establishing a free library. The office where I did my cataloguing was in what used to be the butler’s pantry – what we would today call the kitchen. The shelves were deep, to accommodate what was originally china and serving dishes. They were perfect for storage of the books that I worked on.

When I was hired, my boss jokingly told me that when I came in each morning, I needed to say hello to Mr. Stewart, the resident ghost – and former owner of the mansion. I chuckled, but waved vaguely in the direction of the shelves and what would be my workspace and said “Hello, Mr. Stewart. It’s nice to meet you.”

Then I got to work.

Being the superstitious sort, as I came in each morning, I greeted Mr. Stewart, chuckling to myself, but still… I did greet him.

Then one morning, I didn’t. It was a bad morning already with sick kids and deadlines to meet and all the stuff that goes with life. Things that can make a person cranky in the morning.

And my books fell off the shelves. Puzzled, I picked them up and set them back on the shelves and brought up my computer. I chalked it up to a heavy truck rumbling by outside – though usually that didn’t cause books to go flying. A few minutes later, they all fell off the shelves again. This time, there were no trucks rumbling by. I checked the shelves to make sure they weren’t wobbly – they weren’t. And that there was nothing slick on the shelves to make the books fall – there wasn’t. I replaced the books once more and got back to work.

Then they fell again.

By this time, I was beyond frustrated. My boss walked in the door and looked at me sitting on the floor trying to put all those books back in order and she chuckled.

“You didn’t say good morning to Mr. Stewart, did you?”

I stared at her from my spot on the floor. “I… um… no. I guess I didn’t.”

She helped me replace the books on the shelves and I turned to the room. “My apologies, Mr. Stewart. May you have a pleasant day.”

The books stayed put for the rest of the day. And I never forgot to greet Mr. Stewart after that.

What’s your Halloween story?

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