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, January 29, 2008

Cross Words

Being a normal Monday, we were deluged with patrons as soon as the doors opened, yesterday. In under two minutes, the innanet crowders, who had been lined up outside the doors impatiently waiting for us to open, had signed up for all of the innanet stations. As frustrating as it was for the four other innanet crowders who arrived at minute three, having all the stations full is kind of freeing for those of us on staff. We get to smile and say, "I'm sorry. It's going to be at least an hour before you can have a computer, unless someone gives up and leaves." At that point the later-comers usually look sad and depart. Sometimes, not.

Mr. B-Natural, for instance, elected to hang around and wait. He lurked on the fringes of the computer area, watching them like a bald vulture for any sign of someone departing. (And, yes, I realize vultures typically are bald already, but this would be an extra-bald vulture in Mr. B-Natural's case. Or, perhaps, an extra bald vulture who once spent several hundred dollars on a bright silver toupee which he wore for all of a week before sending back.) At one point, I was helping an innanet crowder with a computer issue that required me to reboot their computer. As soon as I started the reboot, Mr. B-Natural came rushing over to sit down at it.

"Can I help you?" I asked as he waited for me to get out of his way.

"Yeah. You were signing on that computer for me," he said.

"No. I wasn't," I said, icily. "Someone is still using this."

"Oh."

A little bit later, I spied Mr. B-Natural walking with the local newspaper in one hand, pen in the other.

Surely, oh surely, I thought, he wasn't carrying OUR copy of the local newspaper and surely, oh surely, he wasn't planning on doing the crossword in pen in the actual paper itself. No, surely not. Not after the hell he raised last week over someone taking the puzzle from the Wa11street Journal ahead of him. No, I must be mistaken, I thought. Mr. B-Natural MUST have brought in his own copy of the paper. It would be unthinkable otherwise.

Mr. B-Natural eventually did get a computer, used it for all of ten minutes and left. Shortly after this, I found our copy of the newspaper had been returned to the desk, crossword puzzle completely filled out. In pen.

Sonofa-B!

I wrote a note on the staff notepad to the effect that Mr. B-Hypocrite had done the puzzle in our paper. I figured Mrs. A would dish out some hell of her own.

Toward the end of the day, Mr. B-Natural returned to use the computer again. This time I was unable to keep my mouth shut.

"Hey, what's the deal with doing the crossword puzzle in our paper?" I said. "You were just complaining about other people doing that last week."

A look of joyous guilt passed over Mr. B-Natural's face. I saw in that expression the Rogueish Mr. B-Natural of old who used to take great pleasure in signing his name upside down on the sign in sheet and trying to sneak his coffee back to the computers for no other reason than to piss us off.

"No, last week I complained about somebody taking that whole section of the paper," he corrected. "Besides, who else you know around here even does the puzzle?"

As much as I hated to admit it, I had to give him that one. Mr. B-Natural is indeed the only person I've known in years who's even looked at a crossword puzzle.

This whole episode, however, reminds me of a famous quote originally spoken by Groucho Marx, but more famously reused by another character with the initial B.

"Of course, you realize this means war."
-- B. Bunny

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dare I point out the obvious? If someone did the crossword besides him in pen, then others are using it.

Unless he filled it in pen, then forgot he did the puzzle. Or was just looking for something to complain about and filled in the puzzle ;).

Anonymous said...

We had to start removing the section with the crossword puzzle in it each day and keeping it behind the desk. Someone assumed that s/he was the only one "intellectual" enough for the crossword, when in reality we have about five regular crossword fans - so now they all have to shell out a dime for a photocopy, since one of 'em just couldn't behave.

MrAnonymous said...

DO THE PUZZLE IN PEN AND DO IT COMPLETELY WRONG AND USE MRS A'S HANDWRITING THEN BLAME IT ON RON THE RIPPER

Juice S. Aaron said...

Anonymous #1-- No, he was the one who did the puzzle. He wasn't blaming anyone else for that.

Anonymous said...

Anon #1 again:

I meant the crossword he complained about before. It seems to defuse his point of he's the only one who does the crossword ;).

Unless of course he actually is the only one who did the crossword. Then that makes the earlier complaining suspicious ;).