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.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Crab's Complaint

I was working the desk during story hour, today, when Mr. Crab, third grumpiest old man in all the world, habitual forgetter of his "liberry" card, and a man quite unafraid to mention that he's a $200 annual "liberry" donor, scuttled in.

I was glad he visited during story hour, because it meant Mrs. B and Mrs. C were otherwise engaged. So when Mr. Crab came to the desk with books to check out and then didn't have his "liberry" card, he would have to deal with me. Last time, and despite all good sense otherwise, Mrs. B let him get away with checking the books out on her card. This would not be happening on my watch. I imagined he'd wail and gnash and threaten to withhold his $200 annual donation from us, as usual, but it would do him no good. I would quote "liberry" consortium policy to him, shrug my shoulders in mock sympathy and then offer to hold his books at the desk until such a time as he could remember to bring his library card when setting out to come to the library.

While waiting for him to do this, there was a sudden rush on our computers, causing me to dash to and from the circ desk to sign people on and boot other people off. Soon enough, I saw Mr. Crab scuttling toward the desk to check out, but I was already in mid-dash and decided he could wait a whole 30 seconds until I returned. On my way out of the room, I spied Kanji the Kid coming in the front door.

When, at last, I returned to the circ desk both Kanji and Mr. Crab were waiting there. Kanji was standing nearest our computer sign in sheet, so I told him it would be a while before we had a computer, as they were all quite full.

"Actually, I don't need a computer. I need to renew some books I have out," Kanji said. He nodded toward the circulation desk computer, as though I should fire it right up.

"Do you have your library card?" I asked.

"No."

Ah ha, I thought. Just the situation Mr. Crab was waiting for. Would I treat anyone else differently than him? In this test, though, I would deny Kanji any such service, right in Mr. Crab's face, so he would know what he had coming to him before he tried to pull the same trick.

"That's why I called home and got my number," Kanji finished. He passed me a little yellow slip of paper with his card number written out.

"Ah. Very good, then," I said. I typed in his number, renewed his books and Kanji happily lumbered out of the building.

When I looked up at Mr. Crab, I expected to find him pre-surly for my convenience. But he just slid his books at me and then passed me his "liberry" card without a fight, or even his usual lengthy search of his overstuffed wallet, or his usual threats to withhold donations should he not find it and then be denied service. As I began checking his books out, our desk-side surl-o-meter began to ping.

"Rude!" Mr. Crab griped. "That young man was rude, shoving his way to the desk, like that, ahead of other people. Rude." He then gave me an expectant look, as though waiting for me to agree with him or otherwise give him a fight. I started to explain that Kanji didn't mean to be rude; he just has Aspergers. Then I decided that Mr. Crab wasn't owed any explanation, so I just shrugged. Mr. Crab took his books and made for the door, nearly plowing into a lady patron in his haste to exit.

"He's one to talk about rude," the patron said after Mr. Crab had left. "He nearly ran over me and didn't even say `excuse me.'"

I started to explain that Mr. Crab didn't mean to be rude; he's just an asshole. But I decided against it, so I just shrugged.

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