Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some mornings it's just not worth gnawing through the straps

In a recent post I talked about some of the “behind the scenes” happenings of the library. Now let’s talk about the patrons. Oh yeah. First of all, don’t get me wrong. I loved working with the public. Most days. The majority of people were friendly, were happy to be at the library, some were even happy to see ME. In fact, I grew quite close to a few regular patrons. But then there were those who demanded special treatment because they were a) rich b)a doctor, lawyer, or such or c) a prick. Oops, sorry, that just came out. I am not proud to admit that I cried a few times. Yeah. Like I’ve said before, I am a wuss. But, I still loved working at the library, and enjoyed the public. Here are just some of the odd people that crossed our threshold:

On an extremely cold day in the dead of winter, a man came up to the counter soon after the library had opened. He wore a green army jacket, zipped up. “I was here a little while ago with my friend, but I didn’t think you’d let my friend in the library,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t I let your friend into the library?” I asked him curiously.

“Well, he’s a parrot.”

Come again?

“You’re right. I WOULDN’T have let your friend in the library. And why would you even have your bird out in this cold weather to begin with?” (After those words escaped my lips I realized how they sounded.) I eyed his zipped up jacket thinking he was going to open it and show me his parrot, but he just shook his head and walked away. Oookay.

There was another patron, let’s call him “Dan”, who I knew somewhat, that would come in to the library quite often. When Dan lost his job, he’d stop in almost daily and pick up movies, cd’s, etc. One day Dan was walking into the library. It was cooler out so he wore a jacket. A librarian, Virginia, (hi, Virginia) was following him into the building when she noticed a pair of eyes spying out of Dan’s collar looking at her.

“Um, excuse me,” Virginia said to Dan, stopping him. “Is that an ANIMAL in your coat?”

“Yeah,” Dan replied. “It’s my pet rat.” Like that was the most natural thing in the world.

“You can’t bring it into the library!” Virginia said incredulously.

“But I bring him everywhere with me,” Dan whined. What? Is he for real?

“NO ANIMALS ALLOWED.” Virginia said firmly.

I think back to all those times Dan came to the library with a coat on. Yikes! If he had that damn rat with him, and IF that damn rat jumped on the check-out counter, I simultaneously would have peed my pants and screamed at the top of my lungs.

We had two libraries in our town; a large main one, and a small branch. One day a mom and her son walked into the branch library carrying a small cage with a hamster inside. She must have held the cage low to her side because she got by the reference desk. It was bad enough that they brought the hamster to the library, but when they took it out of the cage to let it run around, that was really pushing it! When asked why she brought the hamster to the library she replied, “Because it’s so little, we didn’t want to leave it home alone.” It’s a freakin’ HAMSTER, lady! She was told “NO ANIMALS ALLOWED.” Can you believe this same woman showed up at the main library just a few days later with the hamster in tow? Luckily the same librarian was working and nipped that baby in the bud as soon as the lady walked through the door. I was beginning to wonder if someone had switched our library sign on the building to PETSMART.

There was another patron who I nicknamed, “Mr. Potato Head”, because one day he came up to the Circulation Desk and asked us how to cook a potato in the oven and then in the microwave. This man did seem a little simple minded, so I shouldn’t make fun of him. It was just interesting to see what questions he would come up with. One day he asked the reference librarian how he could stop the spaghetti sauce from splattering all over the stove when he warmed it up. She replied, “Keep the heat low and put a lid on the pot.” You could just see the light bulb go on over his head. Another day he came up to the Circ Desk and said he had a problem and needed our help. He was overweight, and I immediately thought maybe he couldn’t bend over to get a book on the bottom shelf. My co-worker agreed to help him, before finding out the situation. He said, “I’m having a problem with my heel.” I thought he meant with his shoe. Nooo. He took OFF his shoe, and his sock, and showed us this big, gaping blister that had popped. It was really gross. My co-worker felt obliged to help him since she already agreed. So she applied a bandage to his boo-boo. Afterwards I dragged her into the backroom and made her scrub her hands.

When a patron requested a book and it came in for them, we would give them a call. One day I had to call this elderly gentleman. I started out the call by saying the name of the library, and because it was the branch, I had to add “Eastgate Branch”. The man was hard of hearing. He said, “What? What’s that? Do I speak French? Well, I used to know a little French when I was younger, but I don’t remember any now.” I tried not to laugh, thinking – who would just answer that question if someone you didn’t know called you on the phone? I practically shouted that I was from the library and that a book came in for him. He said, “Why are you asking me if I speak French?” I wanted to slap my head!

All in all, my time at the library was enjoyable. And between the crazy patrons, the nice patrons, and all those books, it was a great fit. But I quit the job to go on the road with my husband. Here we are, four years later and still living in our “candominium.”


Sunny said...

I love stories about work! I even have a few of my own...LOL! Never a dull moment.
Sunny :)

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Those same people camp, you know.... and go to the grocery store and to the doctor's offices. It is the same people, isn't it? There can't be that many of them, can there? Tell me I am right! Please!

Rae said...

Oh, I think I know some of the same people as you. We had idiots that came to the hospital for treatment. Add in a case of sickness on top of stupidity - well you get the picture. After working with the public, sometimes I really wonder how some people survive. They lack common sense and always need help. It would be scary if it wasn't so funny.

Pat said...

Let me be clear about my description of "Mr. Potato Head." I thought about this after I posted. I would never make fun of someone who is mentally retarded. This man was more along the lines of, mmm, let's just call it, ODD. One day, while sitting in the lounge area with some other patrons who were quietly reading, he stood up and said loudly, "I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO MAKE." Then he proceeded to quote a passage from a book! Like I said, ODD!

Allen said...

Well I totally understand the "weird" ones. I worked for Staples, and well we got them all. We allowed pets into our store. It was cool. But the owners were well just weird.

I really don't understand how people have made it this long in life.

Nancy said...

You have a great looking home. My husband was just suggesting living on the road yesterday. But we have just downsized. Not sure I'm ready to do that again, just yet.

The man with the boo boo sounds like he appreciated your kindnesses. Kudos.

TennLady said...


As a former library clerk, I can really identify with your post! I miss some of the patrons a lot since I retired, and a good part of them not at all! Sure do enjoy the stories.