Reader's Digest Asia Pacific

Kindness of Strangers

It’s a book lover’s dream to be locked up in a library – except when you are unable to escape

- BY ANNABELLE WALKER Now retired, Annabelle Walker, who is from Newport Beach, Sydney, loves playing tennis, reading, going to the movies and listening to music. She also enjoys spending time with her two granddaugh­ters.

AFTER MY MOTHER DIED, my father, Reg, who was 75 at the time, began to regularly visit his local library in Epping, New South Wales. He loved going there as he was an avid reader, and especially enjoyed reading all the newspapers on Saturdays. The library had cosy, comfortabl­e cubicles where he would sit for hours. This particular wintery Saturday, at about 12 noon – after being there for about an hour – he noticed it was very quiet and darker than usual. He looked about and realised that all the staff had left. The library was closed and he had been accidently locked in.

My dad was a ‘panic merchant’ at the best of times, so I can only imagine what he was like when this happened. The doors had been locked from the outside and he had no way out. He looked at the noticeboar­ds to try and find a relevant phone number – a staff member or someone he could ring to help let him out – but to no avail. So he rang the local police station and they very kindly got in touch with the head librarian.

The head librarian immediatel­y rang my dad back at the library, and advised that she’d be soon be there. She

tried to reassure him and even explained how he could make a coffee if he wished. This was very nice, but he was in too much of a ‘state’ to do so.

Thankfully, there was a happy ending. The head librarian, who was also an Epping local, arrived within the hour and let him out. She apologised profusely for the anxiety it had caused my father. The kindness she showed him meant that, by the following day, Dad was able to find the whole ordeal quite amusing.

We were all grateful for this lady’s kindness to Dad. She could easily have been annoyed at having to come all the way back to work.

I guess the staff now make extra sure that the library is empty before they leave. What’s more, Dad learned an important lesson – and never again became quite so absorbed in his reading.

Dad was able to find the whole ordeal quite amusing

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