Sunday, April 04, 2004

Snow, Sickos and Spectres: The Three Dreaded S's

I'm stuck at the liberry on a Sunday, it's snowing again and there are potential perverts wandering through our doors.

The weather will NOT make up its mind. Sure, it's cold, but it's not yet cold enough for anything to stick. It's also not snowing enough to keep people from venturing out. I'd expected to see less than 10 patrons the whole day, but it's actually been fairly busy for a Sunday. Granted, I don't normally work Sundays, as that's Miss E's job, but she's out of town so I'm doing the fill-in thing.

There's a fat hairy guy who keeps walking through the library. I don't know what his deal is. When he first came in, he asked if we had a periodicals section and I told him it was at the top of the stairs and up he went. I didn't see him leave, though, so it was something of a surprise when I saw him walking up the hill outside a half hour later. He came in and went back upstairs. Then he left a few minutes later. Then he came back an hour or so later. Then he left almost immediately. Then he came back. Then he left again for good. Don't know what's going on, but he doesn't seem to be interested in reading periodicals.

Hmm. Maybe Chester's sending him in to test and see if we follow other patrons up the stairs when we know they're headed for the periodicals and not just him.

Shortly after the fat guy came in for the second time, I was headed back to log-off a computer and caught the smell of incense in the reference room. It smelled exactly like burning incense, but there was no smoke that I could see. It seemed to definitely be concentrated in the reference room, though. I went upstairs and could smell it faintly there, but it may have just wafted up the staircase. I asked the three people in the reference room if they could smell it too, but they said they couldn't. Maybe the smell is being created by the paint-chip ghost....

See, we think we have a ghost. It's the only way we can yet explain the paint chips that have been appearing on the landing of our staircase for the past several days. We clean them up and then they return. And the odd thing is, there is no chipping white paint to be found anywhere in the vicinity of the stairwell. I don't actually believe it's a ghost, mind you, though you might expect to find one in our library. After all, the building once served as a field hospital in a nearby battle during the Civil War. We have Civil War era graffiti drawn onto one glassed off section of our main-room wall to prove it. So believe me, I've been on the lookout for ghosts. Haven't found any yet.

Our last sicko of the day is a recent addition to the collection of potential perverts who come in the library. I call him The Parka, as that's what he wears: a great big puffy white parka that it's not near cold enough outside to justify. He's either passing through the area or is just new to the library because he's terribly green as to how we do things and to our hours. Just about every day this week, though, he has come in and said "I need to use a computer" in a slightly louder than necessary voice before he's even reached the desk. I'm not entirely sure, but I think he's using the computer to sign in to some kind of on-line dating service. At first I thought he was just cruising for porn, as I would occasionally see thumbnailed faces of blonde model-types on the screen when passing through the reference room. I even heard him grunting in what sounded like frustration a few times. I chalked this up to his inability to see anything better than faces due to our Porn-Filter. (We installed the porn filters last year to comply with state regulations. When people try to visit porn sites, a message screen pops up saying they can't access that site unless a library employee turns off the filter first. The screen invites them to see us at the desk if they would like us to turn the filter off. We have yet to receive even one request to do so, and certainly not from The Parka.) Today, though, I got a slightly better quick glance at his screen, when telling him his time had run out, and saw that he seemed to be searching some kind of dating service instead of porn.

I still don't like the guy. He just seems a bit creepier than necessary and he makes it a point to ask our hours every time he comes in. In my imagination, I see him counting down the minutes until he can next come in, but this is probably just a false vibe.

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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.