Friday, August 08, 2008

Smiley's Ballgame (Moving Days C)

Mr. Smiley's first time at bat against the new "liberry" project was to claim (via fliers and letters to the editor of the local paper and an article written by Mrs. Smiley, published by another local paper entirely) that our new building would destroy specific examples of an endangered species of tree, the 0sage 0range, that he felt was historically significant to the area. At first everyone at the "liberry" was confused, for we'd never heard of 0sage 0ranges before and certainly didn't want to destroy endangered examples of them. Then a city worker brought us an example of the fruit of the 0sage 0range tree and we realized that we did indeed recognize the green and brainy-looking fruit, except we all knew them as "horse apples". Not only are they NOT endangered but they are in fact quite plentiful to nuisance levels throughout the state. Strike one.

Next up, he claimed that our new building was going to be constructed on a historically significant Civil War campground. Mrs. Smiley herself wrote a newspaper article about it, detailing how the parking lot of the new building would utterly destroy this valuable campsite. I'm all for preserving archeology, so I began asking questions about it too. Turns out, you pretty much can't build ANYTHING ANYWHERE in the greater Tri-Metro Town-A area without disturbing a Civil War site, being as how the entire town and surrounding area was the site of some pretty major Civil War activity. Beyond that, though, the campsite in question was, according to historical record, in existence for exactly one night and our state's historical preservation organization had already surveyed the site in question and had declared it of no historical significance. Strike two.

After that, one of his followers claimed that our new building and the construction thereof would somehow affect the wildlife within the inaccessible system of underground caves that run beneath the area and indeed the entire region. How anyone could tell this, being as how the caves are, again, inaccessible, was not elaborated upon. No one cared. Strike three.

Instead of heading to the dugout like a good player, though, Mr. Smiley and his crew brought out several more excuses that made even less sense and which no one cared about anyway. In fact, one of his people, who worked for the aforementioned another local publication, published a top ten list of things Town A needed more than a new library. The list had very little to do with the new library, but was basically a wishlist of stuff that would be helpful to have. ("10: Traffic lights that go `ping.' 9: A publicly viewable clock that's actually set to the correct time...") I proposed we write our own top ten response list in our library's weekly column, give it a topic and then proceed to list ten completely random things that had nothing to do with anything. ("10: Guacamole. 9: A handjob from Nicolette Sheridan...") Mrs. A declined my proposal, though she did find it funny.

When all of these efforts failed to result in public revolt against us, Mr. Smiley's crew resorted to actual physical sabotage--or monkeywrenching, as I believe it is also known. After ground had been broken on the site and construction was very much under way, the foreman at the site happened to be wrapping up a few details after the rest of the men had gone home when he saw a car pull up outside of the mobile-site-office. A woman got out of the vehicle, walked over to the silt fence that surrounded the site, used scissors to cut through it in two places, then get back into her vehicle and leave. Fortunately, because everyone involved with the project was fully aware who was behind the hubub against the new library and knew what his tactics had once been, cameras had been issued to the foreman and others on site and he had been able to snap a few pictures of the woman and her vehicle. Then, instead of leaving for the day, the foreman waited there for the inevitable phone call from the county building inspectors detailing they'd just received a report that the site's silt fence was broken in two places.

"Yep, it's broke," the foreman reportedly said. "I saw who broke it, too."

The police were informed of what had happened and supplied the authorities with the necessary photos. I do not know if Mr. Smiley's crewmember was confronted with the evidence, but I suspect so because all further trouble from Mr. Smiley and his crew ceased after that moment.

Some still wonder why Mr. Smiley felt so strongly that the area did not need a new library building. Certainly a case might be made, but none of his or his followers reasons ever held any water. One might presume that he did this as revenge against us for the time we nearly kicked him out of our book sale for hoarding books. And while I'm sure that incident didn't make him any happier with us, his campaign against us was already well underway before that little incident.

No, what we now believe was the real reason behind his efforts--you know, beyond the whole really really needing something in his life to rally against, to maybe let him relive a bit of his youth, and we were just the unfortunate souls who happened to be a convenient target--came down to a simple matter of convenience. The hill our new building was to be built upon was one of the only public places in the area that a) had a wonderful view of the area, b) was within walking distance of Mr. Smiley's house, and c) secluded enough that he, Mrs. Smiley and their friends could go and smoke pot there with little fear of being caught. We know this because they were caught doing this very thing by workers at the site.

We've not seen anything at all of Mr. Smiley since that time. Oh, he'd already been scarce due to the book sale incident, but after that sightings of him were limited to other parts of town and never the "liberry" itself.



foxofbama said...

Just found your blog and may come back soon.
I got thrown out of mine (Lyberry with a y is the way we spell it in Alabama) for (my version) helping a kid get into Yale Div School; and B)making a remark about the politics of the local church cornerstone.
I think I understand you.
Will be reading more.
Denise Giardini?; do you know about her there in West Virginia.
From what I've read she is a saint.

Manda said...

This story sounds so familiar. Nearly the same thing happened with my library, only it wasn't new construction. We swapped buildings with a business.

There was a "Mr. Smiley" group that ranted about the poor children who wouldn't be able to walk to the library anymore because it was moving to the big, scary highway. They didn't make much headway against the city and library officials.

gemini said...

Mr. Smiley is a pothead? Sheesh, you'd think he'd be more mellow.

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.