Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mr. Hinky

A new rogue seems to be in the making. I call him Mr. Hinky.

I first noticed Mr. Hinky's presence a few weeks back. He has a look about him of someone who is kind of high-strung, nervous, suspicious, somewhat malicious and overly alert. He's like a human version of a skittish lizard suffering from paranoia. You could probably startle him with a medium volume "Boo." However, Mr. Hinky's major claim to infame does not lie in his lizardesqueness, but instead with his attempts to drink coffee at our public computers.

The first time I caught him at it, he'd already been seated at one of the computers for over an hour before I noticed his coffee cup on the desk beside him. I walked over and explained to him that we couldn't have drinks at the computers, to which Mr. Hinky explained that his cup was actually empty. (Duh.) He then demonstrated this by shaking it at me so that I could hear the lack of sloshing within it. He then set his empty cup down on the floor beside him and shrugged at me as if to say, It's empty, what harm can it do?

I let him live.

Last week Mr. Hinky was back, again with coffee. I saw him coming with it in advance, though, and decided to let him hang himself. I watched as he signed up for a computer, then carried his coffee cup (clearly full from the weight of it) over to the computer that Ms. D had kindly logged on for him. I tried to give Ms. D the international sign language for "He's got coffee--get him!" but still being relatively new she didn't understand. I then watched as Mr. Hinky set his coffee on the computer desk directly next to the very keyboard the policy is in place to protect.

I walked closer and said, "Sir, we can't have drinks at the computers."

"I know," Mr. Hinky said. "I'm putting it over there." And at this he pointed to the nearby coffee table in front of the fireplace. As I watched, he then moved his coat and other possessions to a chair by the coffee table, set them down and only then retrieved his coffee from the computer desk to relocate it to the coffee table itself. He turned to me and shrugged, as if to say, How can you argue with that: it's a COFFEE table?

Again, I allowed him to keep his life, but only because we don't disallow drinks in the building; just near the computers. I was certain, however, that had I not said anything to him, Mr. Hinky would have enjoyed his beverage at the computer all the same.

Later during that same visit, Mr. Hinky asked Ms. D to make some photocopies for him. I wasn't there for the beginning of that conversation. I only came in after hearing him arguing with her after the copies had been made. I still didn't understand exactly what was going on when I came out to see what the commotion was about. All I heard was Mr. Hinky stating repeatedly that we had only charged him five cents per page when he was last in on Sunday.

"I'm sorry, but that's not the price," Ms. D was saying as I walked up. I looked to her for explanation and Ms. D told me that Mr. Hinky claimed a woman matching the description of our fellow "liberry" ass. Ms. M had been the one who charged him five cents per copy.

"We charge 10 cents a page for prints," I told him, still wondering why on earth we would have charged him half price for even those.

"No, these were photocopies," Ms. D added.

"Oh, no," I said. "We charge 25 cents for those."

Mr. Hinky was getting angry and his eyes were flashing. He again insisted that he had been charged five cents.

"Sir, the employee you're talking about has worked here for over four years. She knows how much we charge for prints and how much we charge for photocopies, and we charge 25 cents per page for photocopies."

Mr. Hinky started to protest again, but I cut him off. "If you'd like to take this up with our librarian, MRS. A, she will be in tomorrow."

He declined to bring the issue up with Mrs. A. Instead, Mr. Hinky paid full price for his photocopies and soon left, coffee cup in hand.

The next time I saw Ms. M, I asked her about the guy. She had no memory of charging anyone 5 cents for photocopies. She tried to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, almost as though she was open to the possibility that maybe she'd suffered an aneurysm and charged him only five cents a copy before forgetting the whole thing ever happened.

"No, you didn't," I said. "That guy's delusional."

Yesterday Mr. Hinky was back. Again, when I logged him on he brought his coffee cup to the computers, this time setting it down on the floor by the CPU itself.

"Sir, we cannot have coffee by the computers," I said.

Mr. Hinky said, "I. KNOW." Then he added, "It's empty. It's completely empty." And, again, he shook it for my benefit. I wanted to stomp the cup, or at least kick it across the room, but refrained. I also wanted to ask him why the hell he's carrying around an empty coffee cup all the damned time, but I also refrained. To my knowledge, none of the local coffee houses have free refills on to-go cups, but maybe I'm wrong. I once again allowed Mr. Hinky to go on breathing up my air. So instead of physically assaulting him, I went to the staff workroom where I brewed up a nice big cup of hot tea and spent the better part of the next ten minutes making a big production of drinking it by the circ-desk computer, sipping loudly all the while. Unfortunately, I saw no evidence that Mr. Hinky noticed my performance. Instead, he stayed his hour and departed.

Later, as I went on a leisurely break-time stroll through town, I noticed Mr. Hinky standing on a street corner, drinking coffee out of, presumably, the same cup. Evidently there IS a coffee shop that allows refills; so that at least explains his cup hoarding.

Only now, I need to find out where he got that refill, cause I could use some of that action myself.


friendlyfriend said...

He sounds like "Stan the Java Man" from MAD TV.

Michelle said...

I used to know a library employee who reused the same paper coffee cup until liquid would literally leak from the seam and it looked absolutely nasty. Only then would he discard it.


Anonymous said...

ahh yes, sounds like one of our regulars here as well

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.