Friday, February 08, 2008

So, what's the police response code for a "domestic" at the "liberry"?

After all the other employees had left for the day, I was on the remaining two solo hours of a closing shift when I received a phone call. It was a man who asked directions on how to get to the "liberry." Ah, a regular, I surmised. So I gave him directions and he arrived shortly in company of a woman I took to be his wife.

As I suspected would be the case, I'd not seen either of them before and while they were both quiet enough I got an odd vibe off of the man. Of course, I am automatically suspicious of most "liberry" neophytes who set foot in the building only on the rare occasion that they need something from us. I wasn't sure at first what this fellow needed from us, other than a computer. He `netted for a bit before printing off some Mapquest directions, which he paid for. Instead of departing immediately, though, he and his wife went into the nonfiction stacks.

Twenty minutes later, I was doing a bit of net surfing of my own when peripherally I saw the two of them walk by the desk and make for the foyer to exit. As soon as they stepped into the foyer, however, the man gave an angry shout and then there was a loud crash as the two of them burst through the front door. I looked up instantly, but could only see movement through the glass of the front door as the couple disappeared into the darkness of the parking lot beyond.

Aw, hell, I thought. We've got a domestic dispute on our hands.

I ran around the circ desk and toward the front door, fully expecting to find the man beating his wife on our front walk. If he was, I wouldn't be able to allow this to happen and would have to get involved in it and probably get punched in the face for my trouble. The best I could hope for would be to catch him off guard, leap on him, bring him down by sheer weight alone and somehow pin him to the ground with my notoriously non-existent wrestling skills. Maybe I could dial 911 on my cell phone before being rendered unconscious?

Only when I burst through the front doors, myself, the couple was nowhere to be seen. It had only taken me maybe three seconds to get outside. There had been no time for them to even get to a car, let alone drive away. I looked around, but other than two members of the New Devil Twins Auxiliary League of Neighborhood Kids, who'd been in the library earlier and were now standing calmly at the edge of the front walk, there were no other humans to be seen.

"Can I help you?" the taller of the kids asked after several seconds of me standing there looking around for the man.

"What's going on?" I asked, thinking they could direct me to where the man and wife had vanished to.

"We were just messing around," the kid replied.

And then I realized that it had not been the man and wife who I'd peripherally seen before; it had been the two kids all along.

"Oh," I said. "You're not who I thought you were," I added. I then went back into the building where all the computer patrons stared at me like I was a dumbass for not realizing what was going on the whole time. Or maybe they were mad I didn't put the smackdown on the kids for disturbing their precious innanetting time with their shouting and bursting of doors.

The real man and wife left about five minutes later, happy as two patrons I've never seen before and will likely never see again can be.


Anonymous said...

Always assume any new patrons are a problem until proven otherwise.

Holley T said...

That's a safe bet and advice I always follow (and share with new employees). I wonder if the patrons know?

Anonymous said...

Completely off topic I have a question which has been nagging me for quite some time.
Do Southerners have two voices? One which is their provincially delightful drawl comfortably used among peers and fellow travellers while using a mode of speech more bland yet accessible to those who lacked the pleasure of growing up in the Republic's south?

Juice S. Aaron said...


Yeah, I'd say this can be the case with southern accents, but it's probably not a conscious thing on the part of the person switching. I grew up in Mississippi and don't really have a southern accent myself for the most part. I still use ya'll a lot and wear it like a badge, but I'm pretty uncountrified otherwise to the point that people don't really believe I'm from Mississippi when I tell them.

My college roommate and best friend, Joe, also grew up in MS and speaks without a southern accent 90 percent of the time. I noticed in school, though, that whenever he would speak to his parents on the phone he suddenly dropped into a deep drawl to the point that you would think you were listening to a completely different person. It's the same drawl that his parents have, however, so you can imagine he must have had it growing up.

This is hardly a condition unique to the south, though. I'm sure regional accents the world over can be turned on and off by some of their users when the situation requires, whether its done consciously or not.

Vampire Librarian said...

At least you didn't call the cops. I did once. Mistook a sleeping woman for a nightmarish banned patron. Cops came, and when they woke her up, I realized my mistake. I told the cops immediately of the mistake, but I felt awful. Thankfully no one got mad at me.

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.