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.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Stanky Patrons

Last week I asked Mrs. C if it would be okay to put up a sign on the back of the restroom door that read: "If you make stinky in this restroom, please be so kind as to use the provided can of Airwick. Thanks."

It's a project that needs serious consideration. After all, the vast majority of patrons who have a poo in our tiny, unventilated, non-sound-proofed, one-toilet, no stall public restroom never even consider using the provided air-freshener afterwards. In fact, I don't think it would be going too far to say that a patron actually using the air-freshener would be an unprecedented event. I figure if we put the sign on the back of the door only people actively making a "stinky" will see it, might actually read it and might actually become inclined to use the air-freshener to cut the stench they leave behind.

Don't get me wrong... as my wife will readily attest, I'm no stranger to being the root cause of stanky bathrooms myself. However, when I know I'm about to befoul a confined space, in proximity to a public area, which, as soon as the door is opened, will unleash my by-product upon an unsuspecting world, I use some damn air-freshener, or light a match or pull the fire-alarm or something.

Not our patrons. No sir. They just let fly and walk away. We should probably count ourselves lucky that they even flush. It's like they're proud of what they've made and want everyone to get a whiff. This, in turn, causes me to want to chase them around the library with a can of Lysol and a lighter. Or sometimes a hose.

Beyond just the restroom olfactory adventures we have, we have patrons who are just naturally eye-wateringly stinky. One lady in particular either doesn't bathe very often or just eschews the use of "de-funk" in general, because she can light up a room with B.O. And once, around 2 years ago now, we were paid a visit by the Stinkiest Man Ever. He's not on the Rogues List because he only visited the one time, but his stench has been seared into the memory centers of my brain. He was like Pigpen from Peanuts as an adult. In addition to being revoltingly-stinky, he was also the owner of the worlds filthiest, too-tight red T-shirt, which was doing a less than admirable job of covering his lumpy hide. Mr. Stanky wanted to borrow an atlas from us. We don't loan out atlases, but I very nearly gave our copy to him and wrote the book loss off as a hazard of doing business. Instead, I sent him upstairs with it, where he promptly drove off every patron up there except Ron the Ripper, who probably enjoyed it. After Mr. Stanky left, I had to hold my breath and run for the bathroom to retrieve our kitchen-strength can of Airwick, which I emptied in an attempt to fight back the evil presence he'd left behind.

In related Stanky Patron news... my friend Glen works in a library located in a southern state known for its spicy food and government corruption. (Heheheh, try to narrow that one down from the clues provided.) If anyone should be writing a "liberry" blog, it's Glen, as he's just a damn genius, funny as hell in general and his observational skills are saber sharp. Shortly after I began working at my library, he wrote me to compare notes on problem patrons.

Glen wrote: "My patrons smell like dusty turds. I'm serious. From day one, I noticed this peculiar odor about my branch and quickly traced it back to the patrons. It took some time to satisfactorily classify the scent for myself but in my second week while listening to some woman go on about how she `paid that fine fo' weeks ago,' I thought: `Lady, you smell just like a dusty turd. That's it, by golly!' Imagine a long lost link sitting on top of a bean pie in the bottom of a tool box and there you go. It's amazing. It must have something to do with diet. Or a propensity to roll around in aged feces. I don't know."

Incidentally, Mrs. C gave me permission to put up my sign.

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