And So It Begins... Summer Reading.
Day One has now passed and I feel like I've been run over by a truck. Oddly, I don't care.
I don't have much to do with our library's Summer Reading program
itself. However, I've often been recruited to man the desk during Summer
Reading while the rest of our staff—Mrs.'s C, B, J, occasionally A and
Miss E—ride herd over the 100 plus kids who turn up. As busy as they are
outside, working the circ-desk is no picnic either, as Summer Reading
takes place on a Monday and Mondays at our library are already horrible
to begin with. So I get the usual horrific Monday Madness as well as
line after line of Summer Reading kids marching through to check out
books as well. This year, however, I got not only the usual Monday
Madness AND Summer Reading kids, but these were both compounded by the
fact that we've got the new circulation computer system to deal with at
the same time.
We tried to head off problems by making
all the Summer Readers' library cards in advance. This was very helpful.
It was also very helpful that the computer finally regurgitated the new
patron records it ate last Friday
and seems to have cut back on its cravings for patron record flesh.
What completely didn't help was our usual Monday crowd, though. None of
these people had new cards and most of them were in a fussy huge hurry
to check out and didn't want to wait around for us to make them one.
This would have been fine with us, but they decided to wait anyway just
so they could grumble about it.
Fortunately, I wasn't
there solo. Mrs. A was also on the desk and Mrs. J was our runner,
responsible for shelving the billion books that were either checked in
or merely knocked off the shelves by yungguns. This way, one of us could
always stay on the circ-computer leaving the others free to help
patrons, answer the constantly ringing phone, make more cards on a
different computer, keep up with the internet crowd, tell the kiddies
where the potty was or just answer dumb questions in general.
you know why it's so busy in here today?" a patron asked, staring in
bewilderment at the sea of reasonably well-behaved kids around him.
"Yes, I do," I told him.
"Well... Why?" he asked, seconds later after it became apparent that I wasn't going to answer the question he SHOULD have asked.
"It's day one of Summer Reading," I told him. Duh!
1:30 and 3:30, both the interior and exterior of the library were eat
up with kids and parents and regular patrons and madness in many forms.
At no point during that time were either Mrs. A or myself able to utter
the phrase, "Whew, finally a chance to catch my breath without eight pressing responsibilities requiring my immediate attention!" (And I know that Mrs. C, Mrs. B and Miss E outside were run just as ragged by the actual Summer Reading program itself.)
Then there was the phone... THE $#%*ING PHONE! Oh, how it rang!!!
The following exchange happened no less than FOUR TIMES during my shift:
ME: Tri-Metro County Library?
CALLER: Is Mrs. A there?
ME: Yes she is, but I'm afraid we're incredibly busy at the moment. Can I take a message and have her call you back?
CALLER: Um, er, sure.
Then there was the call that went...
Yes, I have a child at Summer Reading today and my mother is there with
her. I'm having an emergency here, can I please speak to her?
I break my ass running outside to find Grandma only to learn that she
stepped away to run errands. Then I learn from our caller that there
wasn't actually an "emergency" as per the definition of the word, but
more of an "inconvenient situation" which should not have required the
breaking of any ass, especially mine.
Around 2:30, at the height of the tumult, Mrs. A suddenly vanished.
I was, swamped at the desk with a line of kids waiting to check books
out and adults waiting to be told they have to leave the desk again and
go fill out an application for a new card before they can check books
out. Mrs. C came inside, walked around the desk and whispered to me that
Mrs. A was currently indisposed as she was busy following the Patron Who Must Not Be Named, a.k.a. Chester the (Potential) Molester.
Chester! Dammit to hell, the absolute last person we needed coming in when we had a house full of preteen, elementary-aged girls was Chester the (Potential) Molester—a.k.a. public enemy #1 of the Liberry Rogues Gallery.
When he comes in, we usually spread out the whole library staff in a
Chester-watching dragnet, but today of all days we didn't have a soul to
Chester's been conspicuously scarce over the past two months. In fact, seemingly since the day we learned of his recent arrest
he's been cutting back on his visits. Oh, he's come in on occasion, but
we've had no real problems out of him. Evidently he was just picking
Well, at least Mrs. A had
spied him and was shadowing him. The trouble was, we had barely been
holding back the tide of "liberry" chaos when both of us were manning
the desk. Now I was left to face it alone, with a huge line stretching
into the next room. Could it get any worse?
ME: TRI-METRO County Public Library?
CALLER: Yes, is Mrs. A there?
ME: Yes she is, but I'm afraid we're incredibly busy at the moment. Can I take a message and have her call you back?
caller identified herself as a librarian from a neighboring county. She
said she was in the midst of a circulation software emergency and
needed Mrs. A's guidance, stat.
ME: Um. She's in a bit of a... Well, she's... Er...
What could I say? Announce to the caller and the rest of the room, "I'm sorry, Mrs. A can't come to the phone right now, she's busy chasing down our resident pedophile"?
ME: Hang on a second and I'll see if she can come to the phone.
put the librarian on hold, told the kid at the front of the desk to
hang on a second and someone would be with him soon, then I marched
through the front room, up the stairs and into the non-fiction room
where I found Mrs. A and Chester.
Mrs. A was trying to
look busy with some shelving while keeping an eye on Chester, who was
seated at the nearest table. He was facing toward our shelves where a
teenage girl in a short skirt was browsing with some friends. Mrs. A
needn't have pretended to be doing anything official, because Chester
was oblivious to her presence. His eyes were bulging, his mouth was
grinning insanely and his entire head seemed to move in time with the
girl's every motion. He was completely transfixed.
A's eyes were wide too, though hers from shock. I don't think any of us
had ever seen Chester this happy before. He was literally shaking, I
presume with lustful glee, and looked to be in danger of falling out of
"This is a full time job, up here," Mrs. A whispered.
"You've got an emergency call," I said.
"What about..." she said, nodding toward Chester. He failed to notice.
I sighed. "You want to trade?"
A left to take her emergency call and I was left to stand and watch
this sicko ogling one of our young patrons. It was so odd too. He was
staring directly at the girl and I was staring directly at him.
Usually when he catches you staring at him staring at a kid he breaks off and pretends
he was doing something else, but this time he didn't even register that I
was there at all. This made me angry. I was also pissed because he was
aiding the chaos downstairs by just being here. After all, I couldn't
just leave him there while I returned to work, but I also couldn't
afford to stay there and babysit Chester's pervert ass all day—and
believe me, as overjoyed as he was to finally have girls to stare at in
the library, there was no way in hell he was ever going to leave on his
own unless all the kids left first. It was infuriating!
a speech I've wanted to give Chester for two years now. It's a speech
in which all cards are laid on the table and where I tell him that we
know what he's up to and that such behavior is not welcome nor tolerated
in our library, nor for that matter is he. Even before Mr. X gave Chester a similar speech a few months ago,
I had wanted to do it first. However, I have to admit that I've been
too big a coward to actually confront him and give him that speech. I
know I would be well within my rights to give it. I know I even have
Mrs. A's blessing to give it. But I kept telling myself that giving him
the speech would tip my hand too soon. I told myself that what I really
wanted was to catch Chester actually doing something wrong, so we would
have something to pin on him and the police could finally prosecute him.
Trouble is, he's already been arrested in his home town for exposing
himself to a girl in a park and somehow the charge was dropped.
also remembered the advice of my friend Joe, a former teacher, who upon
hearing my desire to give Chester that speech, recommended I go ahead
and do so. I told him my logic in wanting to catch Chester at something,
but Joe said, "No. You don't want that kind of thing happening on your
No. I don't. And still I had not given the speech. So I'm back to a question of cowardice.
I stood there, a mere seven feet from Chester, watching him grinning in
apparent lust as he in turn watched one of my young patrons, I realized that if
any moment was perfectly tailored to the application of the speech it
was this one.
I walked over to Chester's table, leaned over it toward him and said, "I need to talk to you outside, right now."
I didn't wait for Chester to respond to my
summons. I just turned around and started for the stairwell. Behind me, I
heard Chester's chair slide on the floor as he stood to follow. He kept
several paces behind me as I walked down the stairs, through the
computer hall and out the back door into the sunlight.
Summer Reading program itself was being held further out in the park
area of the library's yard. I didn't want to get near it, so I stopped
just outside the back door. I didn't want to cause a big scene in front
of parents. In fact, the fewer parents to hear what I was about to tell
Chester, the better off we all were.
I held the door
open for Chester as he came out. His wide perverse grin had been
replaced by a nervous frown. Frankly, my nerves were doing none too good
"I was... I was just..." he started.
"We don't have time for you today," I told Chester. "We do not have time to deal with you."
"I... I was..."
know what you're doing here. We know what your deal is. We know that
you like coming in here to look at little girls and we don't like it."
Chester wrung his hands nervously in front of him. "But I was just waiting to use a computer... They were all full."
Through the glass of the back door I could clearly see two empty computer terminals.
"No, they weren't," I said, pointing at them. "There are two of them right there. You were upstairs to watch that girl."
"I was just..."
I said, holding up a finger to get him to shut up. I could feel the
momentum of my speech slipping away. "Look, you've been coming in here
for two years now, staring at girls. We know it. We've watched you do
it. And we also know about your little visit to the police department
back home... from another library." Great, now my
sentence structure was losing it. My hands were shaking from adrenaline
and my thoughts weren't forming as logically as I wanted. I
had to get through this speech before it completely fizzled. At least
Chester had the decency to look scared now.
"I was just... I was just waiting..." he stammered.
We know why you come in here. We know what you've been doing and we
don't like it. It makes our patrons nervous. It makes us nervous. And we
don't appreciate it. We're tired of it. And today, we don't have time
to deal with you."
"I think right now it would be best if you left and came back some other time."
Even as I said it, I knew how lame a closing line that was. Come back some other time? What happened to Get the Hell out and don't let us catch you here ever again? Fuck!
it did get the job done. Chester didn't offer any more argument.
Instead, he made a break for his car--which was parked half-way in the
middle of the street, in a handicapped spot no less--and sped off.
didn't even watch him go, though. My arms were shaking and I felt
deflated. I headed back through the front door of the library,
surprising Mrs. A who thought I was still upstairs. Mrs. C, who had
watched my confrontation with Chester from afar, followed in behind me.
Mrs. C said. "I was going to come tell him he had to move his car out
of the handicapped spot, but it looks like you took care of it."
We had a little chat," I said, trying to sound cool but still feeling
mostly blistered. I picked up the date-due stamp and began stamping the
books Mrs. A was scanning, but my hands were shaking so much that I kept
getting it crooked. Dammit! This was supposed to be my
greatest triumph over a rogue ever and here I was all jittery from it. I
didn't even feel good about having done it. Sure, I got the message
across just fine, which was the important part, but my execution had
been a little off. Granted, I doubt Chester raced home to write up a
scathing critique of my speech, but I still felt like it could have gone
better. It bore little resemblance to the wonderful speech I'd planned
out in my head. For one thing, I forgot to accuse Chester of stealing
our Teen People's while I was at it.
didn't have too much time to dwell on my flawed delivery, though, cause
we were indeed still very busy at the desk and soon I was back in the
thick of it. It wasn't until the last of the kids left at 3:30 that our
library began to calm down once again. The staff then began to assemble
at the circulation desk, looking at me expectantly.
"I think someone has a story to tell all of us," Mrs. C said.
"Lord," I said.
So I told them. Every lame ass detail of it. They didn't seem to think it was all that bad, though.
"All I could see was your mouth moving and his head nodding," Mrs. B offered.
"Yeah," Miss E said. "We were going to sneak around the building to see if we could hear what you were saying."
Turns out just about all the staff knew something was about to come to a head from the moment Chester pulled up.
couldn't even get his car parked right in the handicapped space before
he was out the door of it and grinning at all the girls," Mrs. B said. "He
just about stepped on one trying to get in the library."
"He looked SO happy," Miss E said.
should have seen him when that girl bent over to get a book in that
short skirt," Mrs. A said. "He didn't know where to look first."
all had a good laugh about it, for as horrible as Chester is there are
comedic moments, particularly in how inept he is at his job of being a
pervert. I still felt like I'd been run over, though. I wasn't shaky any
Before I left, Mrs. A said she
wished she'd been there to hear the speech in person and that she was
sure we'd seen the last of Chester. I don't know. I hope so. I really do.
went home, did some housework and made supper, dwelling on my day the
whole while. The wife came home around 7 and asked how my day went.
"It was very odd, but I think it turned out okay."
told her what had happened. She laughed at all the funny parts and got
sympathetically angry at all the infuriating parts. In the end, she
congratulated me on doing what had to be done--what should have been
done a long time ago.
"But I just don't feel very good about it," I said. "I don't feel triumphant, like I always thought I would."
don't need to feel good about it and you don't need to feel triumphant.
But don't you feel bad about it either. Just know that you did what
needed doing and got him out of there."
And that, I
decided, was true. In my flawed, semi-lame way, I'd finally gotten the
job done, laid the cards on the table and told Chester how things stood.
And in the end, it shouldn't be about whether or not I feel good about
having done it, but that I finally did it.