So, how much do I owe?
Imagine the surprise of the librarians at Silver Spring high school upon opening a rather ordinary looking FedEx package to find an old copy of "The Complete Sherlock Holmes." With a check out date of May 14, 1964.
"How much do I owe for 'borrowing this book for 42 years and 8 months?" Stephen N. Sampogna, a 1966 graduate of the Silver Spring high school, wrote in an attached note. "Did you miss it?" Washington Post
While the return is worthy of a human interest story in itself, tracking down the man revealed a more compelling tale of a man facing the end of his life. In November, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer (most likely due to years of heavy drinking) and given only a few months to live. He began getting his affairs in order, but chose not to dwell on the diagnosis, trying to lead a normal life each day. While boxing up his books to send to a used bookstore, he came across one that didn't have a dust jacket like the others.

Then he realized what it was and where it came from. He thought the librarians at his alma mater would enjoy the returned book, so sent it off. And January 4, he received a letter from Linda S. French, the school librarian.
"My first thought was to forgive your $152.70 in fines (yes, we still charge only $.02/day) because of your honesty," she wrote. "But then I remembered all those students who were deprived the joys of Sherlock Holmes because you couldn't tell the difference between history and mystery and didn't remember the good citizenship habits that I'm sure Springbrook instilled in you."
I wonder just how many high school students would have checked out "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" in that time period. And slightly sarcastic me wonders if perhaps that might be one of the books on the Fairfax library system's discard list.

At any rate, he shan't be charged. The school apparently has a policy of withholding graduation until fines are paid, and he probably would have had to pay the $3.95 he owed at the time in order to graduate. And since there is only a $2.00 fine on returned books, Silver Spring library probably owes him $1.95. He just has to present his receipt for the reimbursement.

While he no longer appears to have such a receipt, he is (or was) in possession of the receipt for the pair of headphones he sold to a judge who listened to the Watergate tapes in 1974. I wonder how much that would go for on ebay.

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