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.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Parka Engulfed

At 6:35 yesterday—that’s 25 minutes to close for those playing at home—Parka rolled in for his daily online skank-chat. He didn’t even bother signing up on our clip-board at the desk. He just followed me on back, like I was really going to let him get away with that.

“Uh, did you sign in?” I asked.

“Oh. I forgot. Sorry,” he said.

He went back to sign in while I logged him on the little computer by the stairs. This might seem an act of malice on my part, as Parka has had a long-standing hatred for the little computer by the stairs. However, since we bought two new Dells to replace the other two patron computers a few weeks back, Parka has preferred the old one by the stairs. This is because when our tech guys set up the new machines they reset all the passwords, failed to tell us the new admin password and then promptly left town without installing Microsoft Office nor several other programs our patrons are used to having access to. In their defense, the tech’s didn’t have any of those programs with them at the time of installation. But there seems to be no timetable as to when they’re going to come back and do the job nor whether or not we can just have the admin password so that we can do so ourselves. (In fact, from what I’m told, the techs have even gone so far as to suggest that they cannot install Office on the new systems because of some security issues and that they will instead be installing Wordperfect—a.k.a. The Devil. That sounds like a load of stall-tactic crap to me, so perhaps the person I heard this from was misinformed.) The new machines, things of speed and beauty that they are, thus have no word processing, nor some sort of Sound/Chat program that Parka likes to use when chatting with his e-skanks. He now almost always requests to be put on the little old computer by the stairs, cause it still has what he wants. I graciously obliged, despite his attempt not to sign in first.

At 6:55, I went back at let Parka know that he only had 5 minutes until we closed. He acknowledged what I’d said by saying, “Okay.”

At 7 p.m. straight up, I went back and told him, “It’s about that time.” Again, he acknowledged what I’d said by saying, “Okay.” However, as I returned to the front room, I heard him return to typing in his e-skank chat window.

In the front room, I noticed the runner carpet was filthy from all the snow/mud traffic we’ve had today. It would have to be vacuumed. I waited for a little, hoping Parka would come on and leave so I could lock up and vacuum in peace, but the sounds of his incredibly loud typing did not ease up as though he were planning to stop any time soon.

At 7:01, I went back to get the vacuum from the Hobbit door beneath the stairs. The Hobbit door is located directly beside Parka’s computer. He didn’t even slow in his chatting as I lugged the vacuum out.

“It really IS that time now,” I said as Parka’s second warning. He didn’t even look up.

I returned to the front room with the vacuum, but I was getting progressively more pissed as the seconds and typing sounds ticked by. Parka wasn’t planning to move. Instead, he was back there thinking: “What grand fortune! Library boy’s gonna be busy vacuuming for at least a minute, giving me extra time to chat with my e-skanks. And I won’t make any move to leave until at least a minute after he stops. Puh-puh-puh-Parkaaaa Powerrrrr!

I gritted my teeth and marched back to the computer hall where Parka was still typing away.

“Uh, no, really, it IS. THAT. TIME. NOW,” I said. I saw him look up at this, but he didn’t say anything. I returned to the front and began vacuuming, determined that if Parka hadn’t moved by the time I finished I was going to shut the computer off in his face and let him know he would never again be allowed to stay all the way until close. Hell, our official computer policy is that computers are to be turned off at 15 til close anyway. I was being more than generous in letting him stay til 7.

About mid-way through my vacuuming job, Parka came out. He said something to me that I couldn’t hear over the vacuum. I turned it off.

“What?”

“I said, what were you trying to say back there? I didn’t hear you.”

Bull, and might I add, shit. Sure, he’d had his headphones on, but even if he couldn’t hear my exact words there’s NO FREAKIN’ WAY he didn’t know exactly what the message was. Not as many times as this little closing-time scenario’s played out.

I blinked at him for a moment, then said, “I was letting you know, again, that we’re closed.”

“Oh. Okay,” he said. “Sorry. I had the headphones on and was kind of engulfed.”

“Uh huh.”

So let the word ring out. Officially, when Parka’s in house, I am forever more shutting off the computers at 15 til, just like our rules say we're supposed to. No more coasting past closing time for Mr. Parka A. Hole. And Lord help the man if he says a word about it.

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