Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Chester and the Narrowly Averted Trip to the Hurt Locker

Mrs. C was out of town on yet another meeting today, so Mrs. B and I held down the fort at the liberry, taking turns listening to asses implode during phone calls from those desperate to talk to Mrs. A or Mrs. C.

I regaled Mrs. B with my recent tale of woe and financial difficulty. Then I told her a bit of what went on during our typical Monday Mass Chaos, specifically about Chester's dumb ass. Mrs. B hates Chester even more than I do, which is a considerable amount to start with.

I also began to tell Mrs. B about Mr. & Mrs. Thrill, the couple who came in at the crack of 5 yesterday and got all worked up and threatened to never come back because I told them we were closing. Before I could even start to speak of them, though, they walked in the door.

(ADOPTS HOMER SIMPSON VOICE) Mmmm... Synchronicity.

I don't think they were expecting, nor hoping I would be there when they came in because both of them looked suddenly sheepish at having their feet caught being set in a building they had said they weren't coming back to. They quietly mosied around the room and eventually chose a couple of movies to borrow. I was glad I hadn't been in the middle of my story to Mrs. B when they came in, because I had a hard enough time not cracking up laughing while they were there as it was.

Luigi was back for much of the day, though with considerably less muddy boots this time. I gave em a good once-over at-distance inspection when he first came in. He came and went throughout the afternoon. Finally, at 4, he came back and asked if any of us had any kind of automotive repair knowledge in our heads. Seems his truck wouldn't start.

"What's it do when you try to start it?" I said, armed with a cache of broken car knowledge from my many years as owner and driver of unreliable vehicles.

"It just clicks."

"Sounds like the starter," I told him. "Happened to me once. I had to have mine replaced."

Luigi phoned a repair shop he knew. They told him it was the starter and that he should go and hit it with a hammer. We loaned him a hammer and watched him go, but neither Luigi nor any of us actually knew WHERE the starter was. Finally, we told him to phone the repair shop down the road and see if they would come up and hit his starter with a hammer for him. They did. Luigi's truck started right up.

While most of this was going on, I was trying to take my break and was using the internet. Our internet connection is still very unfaithful as LOCAL ISPnet has still not finished replacing its routers, or some such. So the net is up and down and up and down throughout the day, which just pisses off our usual internet crowd something fierce. While I was trying to use it, someone came in, but I didn't look up at them since I was technically on-break. Still, my Spidey-sense got a tingle.

After failing to get the net to do anything I wanted, I gave up and returned to the circulation desk. A few minutes later Mrs. B came through the children's room carrying a small stack of kids books on tape. She looked irritated. She began mouthing words to me. After a couple of tries, I read her lips to say "CHESTER's in the children's room."

I bolted around the desk and caught sight of Chester's ratty vest and stupid little short-brimmed cap. He was indeed standing in the kids room. Why? Cause there was a pre-teen girl in there, that's why. Dammit!

Mrs. B knows that I have no problem making Chester's life miserable by following him around conspicuously, so she passed her kid's tapes off to me so I'd at least have an excuse to harass him. When I entered the kids' room, Chester was gamely trying to look like he was engrossed in one of our Who's Who in West Virginia books we keep on a high shelf in there. He had his back turned to the little girl, so he couldn't be suspected of doing anything untoward. This just pissed me off. I wanted to grab him by the arm and say, "Can I have a word with you outside?" then drag him out before he could even reply. I wanted to hurl him out the door and give him the speech I've been writing in my head for the past two years. I want to tell him that we know good and damn well what his game is, that he likes looking at little girls and that he has no business being in the children's area. Oh, and we also know his sick ass has been stealing our Teen People's. I wanted to tell him that I better not see him so much as fart in the kid's room EVER again or even look in the same direction as another patron, let alone a little girl, or I won't hesitate to call 911.

The trouble with this is, no matter how much we KNOW in our heart that this truly is his game, he has still done nothing illegal. It would be one thing if a patron complained to us about him. I'd be on his ass like carbs on potatoes if someone would just complain about him. But I can't exactly throw him out for leafing through a Who's Who in WV which can only be found in the children's room. I didn't even see him staring at the girl this time. I just know he was doing it before I got there.

So instead of assaulting the man, I parked myself in the doorway and stared at him. When he saw me, he put the book back on the shelf and gathered up his notebook and a cluster of loose paper that he'd put on the kids-books on tape shelf and wandered back toward the computer hall. I didn't even have time to move before he was back, though.

"Uhm, can I... Do the computers... Uh, How do I?" he stammered, jutting a thumb back toward the computer hall.

"You have to sign in on the clip-board up front," I said, jutting my own thumb behind me. It's only the 834th time I've had to tell him this, because he asks that EVERY SINGLE %$#!ing time he wants to use a computer. Chester went to sign up and I went back to log him on. As I did, I noticed the top page of his stack of loose paper was from the local community college. I don't normally snoop, but this is %*#!ing Chester, after all. The page was a note giving him instructions on how to apply for financial aid. Hmm. Maybe all those FAFSA forms he's been taking from us were for something after all? More likely, he just wants to take classes so he'll have an excuse to sit and stare at girls. I guess at least the girls would be of age then, but he's still a sick #%&*!

After Chester sat down at the computer, Mrs. B loudly announced that she thought she'd just stay in the children's room to straighten up a few books. I went back to the circulation desk, where I had a good view of the door between the computer hallway and the children's room. I still had Luigi's borrowed hammer and I decided to keep it on the desk, if for no other reason than Chester might notice it and speculate as to what I was planning to gavel with it.

I expected Chester would start his traditional slow walk through the children's room in a quest for a pencil routine, but he stayed put for at least 10 minutes. Finally, he did get up and come to the desk, carrying his stack of stuff.

"Is there something wrong with the computer?" he asked. "It won't go anywhere."

I smiled. "It's been up and down all day. LOCAL ISPnet's working on it."

"When will they get it fixed?"

"Who knows?" I said. "We'd hoped they'd have it fixed already. It's been a week."

Chester looked irritated. I love seeing Chester irritated. He stood there for a few more seconds, allowing me to bask in his frustration, then he left for good, or at least as good as it got today.

He didn't seem to notice the hammer, though.

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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.