I wasn't scheduled to be at work at all for today's Summer Reading desk-riding session. I figured if they needed me they would have asked. When I got back home from some errands, though, there was a message on my answering machine from Mrs. A saying it would be perfectly all right with her if I wanted to come in. There was a hint of desperation in her voice, so I rolled on over. It was a good thing, too, because today brought a more traditional level of Monday/Summer Reading Day chaos than the past two weeks, not to mention a few surprise guests.
It never ceases to both amaze and irritate me how many
people, who truly should know better, call to speak to my fellow
employees during Summer Reading Day. I understand that not every
caller realizes this is any big thing, but I'm talking other librarians
who have summer reading programs of their own and know how intensive and
non-conducive to taking phone calls such programs are. Yet every
single week, who calls? Other librarians.
THEM: Is Mrs. C there?
ME: Yes, but she's busy with Summer Reading right now and cannot come to the phone. May I take a message?
Multiply that by about five times and that's the average for that little phone script.
And if it's not librarians, it's relatives and/or significant
others of our staff who call. And again, it's not just a one-time "Oops, I forgot" sort of call, it's a weekly "I'm completely oblivious to the fact that this scenario has played out exactly this way for the past four weeks" sort of call. I want to scream, "Dammit, you people know better! Quit EFFing CALLING!!"
I mentioned this to Mrs. A. She said she's had the same problem
for much of the past decade and it never stops. One fellow librarian
from another county made it a point to call every Thursday
morning during Story Hour. Thursday mornings are perhaps the only time
during the regular year that Mrs. A is chained to the circulation desk
while the rest of the staff is wrangling kids. In this state, she is
unable to answer any detailed questions from other libraries because all
the answers are upstairs in her office. So every Thursday morning for
months this librarian would call and every time Mrs. A would tell her she
would have to call back later. Mrs. A even asked her not to call on
Thursday mornings, to no avail. Finally, Mrs. A point blank told the
woman to stop calling on Thursday mornings. The following Thursday,
guess who called? Mrs. A said their conversation went something like
MRS. A: What day is it?
OTHER LIBRARIAN: Thursday.
MRS. A: What time is it?
OTHER LIBRARIAN: Ten thirty a.m.
MRS. A: And what is the significance of those two pieces of information?
OTHER LIBRARIAN: Um... I'm not supposed to call you on Thursday mornings?
MRS. A: Riiiiiight!
So after fielding similar calls from about four people who knew better, I was in a fantastic mood.
It was about to get even better.
After about an hour of steady circulation, I looked up from checking out a book to find Chester the (Potential) Molester standing
not seven feet from me in the middle of our main room. I was unhappy
to see him, to say the least, and tried my damnedest to let him know
this with what I hoped was a multi-daggered stare. If it had any effect,
it was to make him start stammering.
"I was... I was just... I wanted to use a computer," he said.
Mrs. A stepped up and told him, "They're all full right now."
This wasn't a lie--the computers really were
all full and none were due to open up any time soon. I don't think
either of us were prepared to let Chester wait around for one,
"Oh," Chester said. "I guess I should come back another day."
"Yeah. I think that would be a good idea," I said. I was mad,
but mostly I'm still smarting for failing to banish him for all time
during our last major encounter.
What happened next, though, surprised me. Instead of turning
tail and leaving, Chester walked closer to where I was at the
circulation desk. I can't be completely sure, but it looked like he had
tears in his eyes, or had at least been crying recently. His eyes were
certainly red, puffy and watery-looking, so maybe he'd had a recent
allergy attack. I somehow don't think so.
"I... I just wanted to apologize for... mumble mumble mumble," Chester said in a low voice.
"I... I want to apologize for... if... if I scared any girls... last time," Chester said.
I couldn't believe it! He was actually trying to apologize--not
for staring lasciviously at our young patrons, mind you, but for
startling any of them while doing so. What was this, some kind of twelve
step pedophile program? Step 1: You must apologize to all the library assistants who got pissed off that you were ogling their underage patrons? Step 2: Stop ogling their underage patrons!
Then, like a dog lifting an injured paw, he held out one of his
hands for me to shake. I'm very proud to say I had enough presence of
mind to keep from shaking it, even out of reflex. No, sir, I will not
be accepting an apology from that bloated sack of shit! Not even if I
witnessed him wash it first would I ever shake his hand. Moreover, I
refuse to give him any reason to believe we're at all cool with his
presence in our library.
There passed an awkward moment, during which
Chester realized that I had no intention of touching his greasy paw. He
withdrew it, then offered it back again, then withdrew it again, as though
maybe I might reconsider, then again, no. Then he stood there looking
back at me with a kind of hurt, swollen-eyed expression that failed
to stir any sympathy in me.
My only response to him was to raise my own hand and give him, not the bird, but instead the kind of finger-flapping bye bye wave favored by toddlers worldwide. Chester turned to the door and went bye byes.
After a minute of standing there fuming, I tagged out from the
circulation desk and went outside to make sure he was gone. Mrs. C said
he drove off pretty fast, but had made it a point to park his
car--poorly, once again--clear on the other side of the Summer Reading
activities so he'd have an excuse to walk by the kids on his way to and
Since my last confrontation with him, the library staff has been
debating whether or not he would ever return. It was pretty much a half
and half split between the Yes's and the No's, with me in the middle as a Probably. I guess we have our answer now. We also need to figure out what our new Chester policy will be.
Now that the cards are on the table, do we let him back in?
I know that a number of libraries have policies allowing them to
ban patrons from the building, and we've even been known to ban people
before ourselves. Where are we going to fall on this guy?