Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Dirty Old Man Winter

Mrs. C phoned me at home this morning and asked if I could come in early. Turns out her nephew was being rushed to the ER with what the doctors already thought might be meningitis and her sister wanted her to be there at the hospital too. (I'll save you the suspense: it looks like he doesn't have meningitis, but a virus of some sort. And, no, not viral meningitis.) I told her sure thing, that I'd be there as soon as I could. This was easier said than done, though.

It seemed like the faster I tried to leave the house the slower I got out, what with having to dress myself, make lunch and dinner to take, carafe my coffee, etc. We also received a nice bit of snow this morning. Mostly it was just spitting until right around the time I was trying to leave the house, at which point I noticed that all the spitting had stuck and that it was no longer spitting but snowing proper and the roads and my driveway had filled up. I got out of our drive okay and slowly started down the hill toward Town-C then back up another hill toward Town-B and on to Town-A. There was nary a snow plow or salt truck to be seen and the roads showed it. I made it all the way to the street the library is on before nearly getting schwacked when my car slid on ice and into the middle of a fairly busy road. Made it okay.

So there I am, at work, three hours early on a very snowy day with little to no patron traffic due to the weather. Mostly I answered the phone, telling people that, Yes, we were open and, No, they could not speak to Mrs. C. And when a patron did brave the weather to come for a visit they, almost to a person, tracked in every last bit of snow, ice and wet that they could. A few of them stopped and wiped their feet off on our runner carpet which, as I believe I've ranted here before, IS NOT A DOORMAT!!!!! In fact, they had to walk across our real doormat, located conveniently on the front step where it should be, in order to wipe their feet down the length of our runner, soiling it with their ice and dirt. Then there were those who eschewed the runner in favor of just tracking snow and muck throughout the building, leaving it in puddles whenever they stopped to look at a book. I spent the day in silent rage. And in a state with a citizenry as given to frivolous lawsuits as ours, I thought it best to keep a mop handy and well-used lest anyone get any ideas or have any genuine accidents.

Speaking of which, one of our infrequent patrons is a lady who is known for bringing about allegedly frivolous lawsuits. She now walks with a cane, also allegedly due to the cause of such a suit, and has difficulty going up steps due to her condition. Yet this is a person who when visiting the library insists on NOT using our handicapped accessible door in favor of our front steps. The whole time she's in the building, we're on her like me on bacon, least she lose her balance and take a spill. Fortunately, she wasn't in today because I expect she would have been unable to resist taking a spill on the first droplet of snow-melt I managed to miss.

Late in the afternoon, a snow truck drove past the library. It wasn't shoveling the snow out of the way, but depositing a layer of gravel and salt onto it. So for the rest of the day, our patrons tracked in snow, mud, salt and gravel and wiped it on our runner carpet.

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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.