Monday, February 23, 2004

Now that's some MORE Monday for your ass!

Sure enough, as I drove up to the liberry, a full seven minutes before we were scheduled to open at 1 p, there were already three patrons pounding on the door to get in despite the whole really obvious hours of operation sign on the door. I parked and then made a point of walking past them on my way to the back door.

"We'll be opening in just a few minutes," I said. They looked suitably irritated with me.

I went through all the opening duties then watched the chain-smoking rubes who were still impatiently waiting outside. I'd worn my bright red "DO NOT DISTURB: I'M DISTURBED ENOUGH ALREADY" t-shirt today. It didn't work at all.

The front door opened at 1 p.m. exactly and not a second before. The flood gates opened with it and a steady stream of patrons poured through the door. Three of them immediately and hungrily signed up for computers, leaving two latecomers to stand in slack-jawed frustration at the half-hour wait time. The internet crowd can be especially irritating on Mondays. Most of them are used to being able to come in at 9 a.m., but on Monday's they have to wait an extra four hours to get their e-mail fix. They don't like it one bit. Makes em cranky. They were also irritated that our internet connection has been intermittent at best for the past week. Our ISP has been replacing servers or routers or something and the service keeps going down. I understand how frustrating that can be, but we've had patrons threaten to punch their monitors because of it. I keep having to explain that their inability to check their e-mail and play their on-line crossword puzzles is not our fault.

The patrons who didn't want computers or tax forms or my help with either seemed to desperately need my help finding books. ("Um, hey, I uh, got a book here a long time ago. It was about this girl and she wrote in her diary. The book was about this thick, you see? Whuuut? No, I don't know the title or author.") or making photocopies with the devil-copier, or try to find books we don't have for their kids' book reports, all of which were due tomorrow, of course.

Bout the time I'm neck deep in needy patrons, who walks through the door but the patron who must not be named, Chester the (potential) Molester. He headed through on his inspection rounds and went upstairs. Now, there were three teenagers in the library at that moment two of which were guys--one in the kid's room and one reading at the top of the stairs. They were hopefully off Chester's radar. However, we did have one who was upstairs somewhere herself. Fortunately, there were several mentally handicapped patrons and their aides upstairs by this point and I didn't figure Chester would try anything with so many witnesses. Still, as soon as I could shed myself of needy patrons I grabbed a stack of non-fiction and went up to see what he was doing.

As I put my books on the cart by the door, I could see Chester sitting alone at one of our tables. He was facing our front outer wall with his back to the handicapped patrons. He was still able to swivel his head, and did in my direction as I walked in. Chester looked terribly pleased with himself for some reason. He was smiling in that Chris Penn gone to seed sort of way he has. (I know, I know, this is really insulting. I mean, have you seen Chris Penn lately?) A happy Chester is not a good Chester, though and it wasn't until I was back downstairs that I realized why he was so happy. The teenage girl must have been sitting at one of the closer table's on Chester's side of the room. I hadn't seen her because that table is blocked from doorway view by shelves, but it's the only place she might have been had she been sitting up there. Before I could worry about it too much, the girl came down the stairs, gathered up her backpack and left. She didn't seem angry or worried, so maybe she was just leaving already. But it made me wonder if she found it difficult to bear the Chester's happy stare.

After a bit, (long enough for the girl to have gotten away) Chester came down, looking far less happy than before. I openly watched him as he passed through and toward the door, looking for signs that he had any stolen magazines stuffed into his vest. I figured the guy at the top of the stairs might serve as a deterrent for Chester to do any pilfering, but who really knew.


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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.