An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Monday, December 08, 2003

The Patron Who Must Not Be Named

Out of all the members of the Liberry Rogues Gallery, Chester the (potential) Molester is the one we hate the most.

Actually, our hatred for him varies from day to day, depending on who's in the library, as there are actually people who irritate us far more than Chester, but he's probably the most serious threat we have to look out for, therefore he makes the top of the list.

He is the Patron Who Must Not be Named.

Chester looks like the stereotypical child-molester. In fact, he could be the child-molester poster boy. He's in his 30's; he tends to wear baggy, dirty clothing, often of the sweat-pant variety and always, ALWAYS wears the same ratty-assed vest and little short-brimmed hunting cap; he does indeed possess a traditional "Chester the Molester" mustache; and he most definitely has an unsavory interest in young ladies (and by young ladies, I mean under age 16, usually under age 12). He's SO stereotypical in his predatory molester-like behavior that when you see him actually behaving that way you stop to question your sanity, because you think that no one would EVER possibly behave so openly and obviously like a child-molester and you think that you MUST somehow be mistaken. Then you realize that, no, you're not mistaken and he truly is a sick bastard.

In Chester's defense (what little there is) in the year and a half he's been darkening our door, we've never actually had any incidents of illegality from him--in other words, he's never attempted to actually molest anyone while in the library. Otherwise the police would have been called on him long long ago and he would be making "special friends" in prison. However, the fact that he hasn't actually molested anyone may only be due to the fact that we never give him the opportunity to do so. From the time Chester hits the front step, we're on his ass like westerns on shelves at Tabor Evans' house.

Chester's usual M.O. is to enter the library and immediately head upstairs, pausing on the way to case the children's room for any occupants. When he comes in, we do a quick inventory of any and all kids in the library and where they are. If we don't know, we go look and make sure and if there are any kids near Chester we make sure there's a library staff-member tailing Chester at all times. If there are no children, we let him be, but we take special notice of any girls who come in.

Once Chester finds out there's no one of interest upstairs, he comes back downstairs (stopping to check out the parenting magazines, with their usual young cover-girls on his way) and either leaves disappointed or heads for the internet-access computers. We've never been able to catch Chester viewing anything untoward on the internet. We're not sure if this is due to any skill on his part at keeping only harmless pages up whenever prying eyes are around. We suspect he might just not know how to use it in the first place. Almost as though he can sense that there's porn there to be found, but is stymied at how to access it. We've seen him sit and stare at our home page for minutes at a time. Chester's also not a big fan of signing up at the desk to use one of our computers and is always on the lookout for one that's already logged on but unattended so he can just hop right on. (We keep em logged off whenever he's in the house, just to force him to come put his name on our clip-board. Not that we need his name. Everyone knows his name. Librarians in surrounding counties know his name. So far, the only people that don't seem to know his name are the sex-offender registration pages for WV, which we check regularly.)

So Chester usually stays on the computer for a few minutes and then leaves, provided there are no young girls about. If there are young girls about, he will make any and all excuses to leave the computer area and meander back into the kids' room to stare at them. His favorite excuse is that he needs a pencil. Once this is decided, he gets up, goes into the kids room and, instead of making the straight line from the reference/computer hall through the kids room and into the library's front room, he curves around to the left and pretends to be terribly interested in the Easy Reader section, all the while stealing glances at the girl(s) in the room. It's really pathetic that he seems to think no one can tell what he's up to. Chester will also try to move out of line of sight of the front desk, at which time I move from the front desk until I have line of sight on Chester; this usually means planting myself into the children's room door frame, from where I can stare at Chester and give him the "stank eye." Once Chester spies me spying him, he breaks off from his own staring activities and either heads back for the computer until such a time as it occurs to him that he really needs a pencil (i.e. five seconds later) or he heads to the front desk to get said pencil, at which time I point out to him that there are plenty of pencils by each of the computers and that he should use one of those. This happens EVERY SINGLE TIME. And it really doesn't matter to him that it happens every single time, because he only wanted a pencil so he'd have an excuse to go through the children's room and now that he's been told where the pencils are he has his excuse to go back through the kids room to get one. There, once again, he starts to meander off track and tries to stare at the girl(s), restarting the cycle.

I used to try and intimidate Chester as best I could. I'm not a physical violence kind of guy, but I'm told I can exert an intense angry stare when pissed. I used to turn that stare on Chester whenever he came in and continued beaming it at him the whole time he was around. I even followed him from room to room, just to stand idly in the corner and turn the stare on him whenever he looked my way. My goal was to make him as uncomfortable as possible in the hope he would finally realize he wasn't welcome and we were on to his sick little game. As far as I can tell, though, the stare has never had any affect on him whatsoever.

We've talked to other libraries about him to see if they had any better dirt that we did. We even tried to be discrete about it, phoning up the library in the county he lives in and saying, "We wanted to ask you about a problem patron we've been having who lives in your area?" to which the other library responded, "Oh, you mean CHESTER?" That library told us that Chester once confronted their head librarian, accusing her of calling the police on him, as the police had apparently been to his house to ask him about his behavior. The librarian had not called the police on him, but assured him that she would be happy to, should the need arise. More likely what happened is that a concerned parent called the police on him, being as how that particular public library is located on the property of an elementary school and Chester was only there to watch the scenery when school let out.

The only method we've found for keeping Chester out of our library is to stop talking about him altogether. You see, Chester is the Patron Who Must Not Be Named for a very good reason. We found that if we stopped using his real name in common conversation, he stopped turning up so often. Then, on days when we happened to use his name, he DID turn up. So it has become unofficial library policy to never mention his real name. If we refer to him at all, it is as The Patron Who Must Not Be Named. (He knows when you're talkin' about him... so DOOOOON'T even talk about him.)

A part of me would LOVE it if I were to catch him doing something wrong (or something demonstrably wrong, as lascivious staring ain't technically illegal). I would love being able to call the police and tell them something they could actually use besides, "Uh, he was starin' at her," which just doesn't seem to cut it. So far, though, Chester's been playing it careful. But we the library staff remain ever vigilant.

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