The perfect absurdity of it all

Patron:  Where is computer number 37?

Librarian:  Between numbers 19 and 21, of course!

But of course!  It made perfect sense to us because we weren’t thinking of the numbers as being sequential.  They were simply labels.  But the hapless patron had looked around and seen computers numbered in what seemed to be a sequential order, quickly scanned for numbers in the 30’s, and found 34, 35, 36, and no 37.  There was a reason computer number 37 was put where it is, which made sense at the time, and its location has just been accepted matter of factly by everyone working at the library.

But the quick exchange caught me unexpectedly and I laughed at the perfect absurdity of it.  People come into a library expecting things to be nicely ordered so they will be easy to find.  But in this case our nicely ordered system made no sense at all.  We won’t change it, of course.  Changing the computer numbers on the computers themselves and within the local network will never make it even to the bottom of the short list of things to fix here.  Besides, it looks perfectly normal to us – 37 has been between 19 and 21 for so long it’s practically ingrained in our vision.

So I wonder and ponder what else we do achieves that perfect absurdity, where the obvious eludes us, or it would take too much time or effort to change.

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