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.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Christmas Party

We held the "liberry's" staff Christmas party today.

Yeah, I know, it's a little later than usual, but it's really difficult to find time in everyone's schedule to have one in December, so we decided to put it off a bit. Then a bit more. Then a bit more. And, finally, it was decided that since all of us had to gather for our semi-monthly staff meeting, we'd just have it then. So we all brought in breakfast items and feasted mightily. (I'm an enormous fan of Mrs. C's monkey bread and am now an even more enormous fan as a result of eating damn near half the pan.) Then we had our staff meeting, bitched about problem patrons for a while, then opened presents.

Much like last year's Christmas party, this year each of us picked a theme and then everyone had to go buy a present that fell within that theme, spending no more than $5 for each person. My theme last year was cookies, which I thought would be a no-brainer kind of gift. Everyone knows I love Nutter Butters and Oreos, so I figured I'd get a big bag of those, which I could climb into, zip up around my head and not emerge until I'd developed diabetes. Nope. Since it was Christmas, last year my fellow employees decided it would be better to buy me so-called "fancy" cookies, the kind that look like they would be comfortable sharing space on a tea tray. Which is great, if you're British and eat a lot of that sort of thing. However, I'm a simple guy with simple tastes and a peanut butter itch that often needs scratching, so it was kind of wasted on me.

This year I asked for coffee. And coffee I got. In all shapes and sizes, from a tasty looking bag of breakfast blend, to harder French roasty sort of things, to gift cards for local coffee shops, to candle coffee samplers, to instant coffee singles, to General Foods International Coffees. I'm quite pleased.

The other gifts I received were two stories about Mr. Crab, one fun and one disturbing.

In the first one, Mr. Crab came in and hassled Ms. D during her shift this past weekend. She caught him trying to head downstairs to our multi-purpose room, which is off-limits to the public except during scheduled events or during story-hour. (It's hard enough to keep up with the members of the public at large on our main floor, let alone those attempting to wander the un-staffed depths of the building. Ms. D has seen issues with this before.) Ms. D and Mr. Crab have also had a history of run-ins with each other, particularly during Ms. D's pre-"liberry" employment at a local chain-home improvement store. She knew what an asshole he can be and was prepared to deal with him accordingly. Ms. D confronted Mr. Crab as he attempted to descend and told him he wasn't allowed to do so. Mr. Crab snapped that he was only trying to go downstairs to read, which he did "all the time." (This was a lie, no doubt, as the only place we've ever seen him settle to read is at one of the tables on the main level.) Ms. D again explained that any past excursions were of no consequence, as he was not allowed downstairs now.

"This is a public library!" Mr. Crab reportedly then said.

"No?!" Ms. D replied in mock amazement.

And at this comeback, even Mr. Crab was unable to stifle a smile and thus lost the argument by having all his steam taken out. He was left half-heartedly complaining that we needed signs saying he couldn't go down there. I agree, frankly, but it's not like patrons EVER read signs.

This incident demonstrates what I've long known to be true, though, which is that what Mr. Crab really wants is a fight. He doesn't accidentally forget to bring his library card. He either has it and claims he doesn't or he leaves it at home on purpose just so he can get worked up about it, stir up shit and fight with someone hoping they'll relent and let him have his way without a card. He doesn't like me, though, because I refuse to argue with him. He can wail and threaten to take away money all he likes, but I'm not going to fight with him about it and unless he has his card he's leaving without books. Threats aside, it's very difficult to feel like you've won the day when you're the guy walking away empty-handed.

"I think he would die a happy man if only we'd let him check out without his card," I remarked upon espousing the above theory.

"Maybe we should let him, so he'll hurry along," Mrs. B said.

The second and more disturbing Mr. Crab story came from Mrs. A. She noted that a few years back, Mr. Crab was banned from setting foot in one of the county's post offices after he became upset with the staff there and threatened to return with his gun. They reportedly told him, "No, you won't be returning at all," and then, as officers of the United States Government, they escorted him from the building and slapped an injunction against him setting foot on the premises. Now, this is basically a rumor at this point and there are clearly all sorts of legal issues that would likely have arisen from such a threat, such as the real prospect of jail time that Mr. Crab has likely not done. Maybe courts were involved and actual restraining orders issued. Or maybe the incident was actually a bit smaller in reality and he was merely banned for some slightly lesser offense and the incident was blown out of proportion by the winds of rumor. I dunno. What I do know is that Mrs. A isn't generally taken with spreading gossip she doesn't know facts about and she does have pretty deep ties in city administration. It also doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility, knowing Mr. Crab. He can't threaten the post office with the revocation of his $200 annual donation, so what else could he do?

"You do realize that he's gonna snap one day and blow one of us away," I told Mrs. A. She nodded. And really, the idea isn't so far-fetched. I suspect he's always wanted to blow somebody away and, from what I understand, he's certainly taken out enough of God's lesser-creatures to have had his fill with them. One day, he might just decide that at his age he doesn't have anything left to lose.

Course, that'd be about the only way I'm letting him have books without his card.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The latest Christmas party I've ever participated in was on July 5th the following year. By then we all agreed that getting out and basking in the sun was more fun than doing our standard Christmas celebration, so we went to the park and lazed around all day.

It was the bestest Christmas party I've ever had, so it's hereby recommended.

Then again, you could just have your Christmas party and add a summer-party... ;-)