“We have top men working on it right now.”
– Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
In almost every movie there is that incredibly silly moment when the villain is confronted with the fruits of his or her destruction and, looking over the rivers of lava/ looming black hole/ annihilation of an entire civilization/ etc., murmurs in despair, “My god, what have I done?!”
I had one of those moments today. After getting all the archives into chronological order (which you’d think they’d already be in, right? Hah!), tagging them by date, pulling original photos and making notes on when/where they originally occurred in print, and hauling it one massive armload at a time to the library, I asked for the archivist. Student employees helped me carry the stacks of papers and binders and asked what I was doing. I couldn’t very well shout, “Saving history!” in the library, so I quietly whispered the tale of the iniquitous order to dispose of fifty years of information.
“He told you to shred it!” one girl squeaked in horror.
“I know,” I squeaked back.
We were all awash with the enthusiasm of the young until the archivist appeared. He looked like Eeyore the donkey in human form: droopy, awkward, exhausted, and less than thrilled to see me with my arms full of documents.
“Hi, I’m C. from the police department. We talked on the phone and–”
“Oh, right,” he sighed, “Follow me.”
The whole cavalcade meandered down some halls and through secured doors…to a lonely room, lined with shelves and piled with papers.
“Here’s a project for you,” he mumbled to what appeared to be a heinously overworked student employee, and ordered us to drop the whole pile on her (already covered) desk.
Which is when I had my cinema-villain-is-confronted-by-what-she’s-done moment. I’d committed the most rookie of cardinal sins: I’d just turned over fifty years of history to a bureaucracy!
I’ve gained all sorts of skills and experiences at this job, but law enforcement is not my calling, to say the least. But history! Oh, yes. And this project is the first thing in over a year and a half that’s come close to the things I’ve studied and feel passionate about. Certainly it’s the only thing that’s got me excited enough to annoy my co-workers with my near constant cries of, “Read this!” And now, I’ve an awful premonition that my precious bundles are only going to slowly decompose in the bowels of the library. There is no justice in the world.