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, December 14, 2004

Loud Nedd: the Obnoxious Drifter Who Talks in ALL CAPS!

I was at the library today, just minding my own.

Around 4:30 p, Mrs. C came up and said, "Oh, did MRS. A tell you about the man who came in this morning?"

"No."

Mrs. C sighed in a way that suggested she didn't want to be the bearer of bad news for me. She told me that soon after they opened, a man came in who suffers from HAS NO INSIDE VOICE syndrome--a tragic condition in which a person shouts nearly everything they say because their parents neglected to teach them proper inside voice technique. (Either that or they're just hard of hearing and shout a lot.)

The man, who I'm calling Loud Nedd, came to the circ desk where Mrs. C and Mrs. A were standing and shouted, "DO EITHER OF YOU GO TO CHURCH?"

Upon hearing this it was my turn to sigh. I was afraid Loud Nedd was one of the wandering, hitchhiker, Fire & Brimstone preachers who used to visit Mississippi State's campus on a semi-annual basis, stand in the "free speech area" and rail against the evils of sororities. (And, no, I'm not making up the part about MSU's Free Speech Area. It exists and the guy would have had to fill out a lengthy form in order to use it.) In this assumption, though, I was wrong.

Turns out that Loud Nedd, while indeed drifting through the area on foot, wasn't so much a preacher as a guy looking for a warm place to sleep and possibly a meal, since it's butt ass cold here right now. From his experience, local churches often provided this, so he wanted to know where the nearest churches were.

"Well, there are three or four in this area of town. If you like I can call one and see what they can do," Mrs. C reportedly offered. Loud Nedd loudly accepted so she called the Methodist church down the street. They told her they could indeed help, but needed Loud Nedd to first go speak to the police department, let them check him out (I presume to make sure he has no outstanding warrants for any 12 state hitchhiking killing sprees he might be in the middle of) and then they would be happy to help him out. Mrs. C put Loud Nedd on the phone and let them explain this to him too. This, however, did not set well with Loud Nedd. Loud Nedd became very loud indeed and began shouting above and beyond his apparent usual loudness at the minister on the phone.

Mrs. C said he began screaming about how it was the Lord's money and who were they to say who could and couldn't use it. He screamed that he didn't want to have to deal with the police and seemed to indicate that he'd had prior bad experiences with the law which somehow involved a jacket of his being stolen and a highway patrolman hassling him because of it. He then screamed threats that if the police gave him any guff at all he would sue everyone involved.

When Loud Nedd had finished his rant and hung up, he asked Mrs. C how to get to the police department. She gladly told him and he left.

We've had trouble with crazy drifters before. One man a couple of years ago--who, naturally, came in on my day off--stood on one of the benches outside and did some kind of strange calisthenics before coming inside whereupon he began behaving in a very threatening manner toward our staff. Mrs. C told him he had to leave and when he did she locked all the doors and called the cops. They came and picked him up and found out he had a number of outstanding warrants on him from Florida, so off to the jail he went.

Loud Nedd came back an hour or so later. He seemed to have calmed down a lot and loudly explained to Mrs. C that he had indeed spoken with the police and the chief seemed like a decent enough guy. They were going to check him out and he would go back later to see what they could do for him. At the moment he wanted to use a computer. Mrs. C logged him on, he stayed for a while and then was all set to leave when he asked the dreaded question that would affect me: What are your hours? Mrs. C told him we were open until 7 at which point he said he would be back.

It was 4:30 then and he had not yet been back so his threat could only continue into the future. Mrs. C just wanted to warn me about him. She gave me his name and description, as a middle aged man with a thick mustache and a ski-coat. She said if nothing else I would know him because he was very loud and very obnoxious.

"He tells bad bad jokes," she said. "Like `Why was 6 afraid of 7? ... Cause 7, 8, 9.' "

"Aw no," I said.

I could just imagine this guy coming back on my watch and have nothing better to do than torment me with bad jokes all the way until closing time. Worse yet, what if he came back and he'd been checked out by the cops and rejected on non-arrest-worthy grounds. What if he had NO PLACE to stay in this freezing weather and now needed me to broker him a deal with some other church. Oh, sure, he'd probably come back right near closing time too, so I'd have to stay late. And tonight of all nights would be the worst because my writers group is having their annual Christmas party which is one of the highlights of my year and I'm supposed to be there at 7. But I wouldn't be able to just turn the man out into the cold.

I thought about writing up this blog entry on him, just in case he did come back. Then I decided that was a very bad idea. I didn't even want to THINK about this man. He might be on the same mental channel that Chester, the Patron Who Must Not Be Named, is on and would magically turn up at the mere thought of him. ("They know when you're thinking about `em, so doooooon't even think about `em!") Yep, the less mental energy I exerted in his direction the better off we'd all be.

At exactly 11 minutes until close a man who mostly matched Loud Nedd's description walked through the front door and shouted, "AHH HAH! CAUGHT YOU NEARLY AT CLOSING! I GOT, WHAT, ELEVEN MINUTES LEFT?!"

Shit!

"Yeah, looks like it," I told him.

"CAN I USE A COMPUTER?"

"Sure. Just sign in at the front desk." He did. Sure enough, his name matched that of Loud Nedd.

Loud Nedd only stayed for about 8 of his allotted minutes. Then he came back up to the circ desk where I was cowering in fear of what he might next say.

"HEY, CAN YOU TELL ME WHERE THE NEAREST CONVENIENCE STORE IS THAT WOULD SELL LOTTERY TICKETS?! YOU KNOW, SCRATCH OFF TICKETS?!"

"Um... that would probably be the Stop-Mart."

"WHERE'S THAT?"

I told him how to get to Stop-Mart, which was at least a mile and a half away.

"NAH, THAT'S TOO FAR AND IT'S TOO COLD! I'M ON FOOT!"

"Well the next nearest one would be about the same distance in the other direction," I told him.

He paused for a moment and I was afraid he was about to try and bum a ride to one. I would have no trouble refusing that, because I don't view lottery tickets as something I need to go out of my way for.

"AH, WELL! IT'LL WAIT TIL TOMORROW" Loud Nedd said, and thankfully disappeared into the night.

(CONTINUED...)

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