Listening to the radio on the way to work the other day an NPR story on musicals reminded me that I’d never seen the whole of West Side Story. Perfect, I thought, something to watch tonight. Half way through the day I actually remembered to find the DVD and check it out.
Back home I slipped the DVD into the machine just as a Netflix commercial was playing. “Hah!”, I said to the TV, “I got my movie for free.” Yet in twenty short minutes I was singing a different tune.
The disc began freezing and then jumping a scene or two ahead. I played with the remote for quite a while before giving up and just watching what it deemed to show me. “Hmm, I bet Netflix users don’t have this problem.”, I had to admit.
I found myself upset, not with the situation, but with the patron who had the movie before me. Why hadn’t they mentioned this problem when they returned the DVD? The library cleans, repairs and replaces DVDs all the time.
It’s the obvious thing to do in my mind: mention your unsatisfactory experience, look out for the next guy, suggest a better way. The more I stewed (and waited for the movie to pick up again) the more I thought, “It’s not about doing the obvious thing. Libraries are participatory. In fact, dang it, reporting a broken DVD is an act of citizenship!”
It may sound like righteous indignation but think about it. Public libraries are tax based – your money at work within the community. Something as small as reporting broken material is participating in the common experience and looking out for your purchase.
A fresh perceptive in my back pocket and some resolve to tell patrons they need to speak up, I finished watching the movie. Days later Netflix rose their rates too much outcry. Smug stratification.