Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I've got another itch and the only thing that can cure it is more cowbell (Moving Days N)

Around nine months after we opened the new place, we had a pretty major incident of theft go down. We're not strangers to thievery at the "liberry," as seen in such previous incidents involving a member of the New Devil Twins' Auxiliary League of Neighborhood Kids, another involving such rogue patrons as Jimmy the Anonymous Snitch and the Amazing Bladder Boy, and one involving a former member of our staff, Miss E, who we're pretty sure made off with some money from the cash box four years back, but it's been a while.

The new incident came to my attention when I arrived for work on a Monday to find our cashbox empty of all cash. Ms. M was working the Monday with me and indicated that it was like that when she arrived for her shift on Sunday. She'd assumed that Mrs. A had taken it for some official reason, for the cashbox had been full and accounted for when Ms. M had left for the day on Saturday. This didn't seem at all right to me, though, because Mrs. A would have left a note had she taken the cash and there was not one. Ms. M then offered that perhaps the money had been taken by Mrs. C's kids, who had been in the library with Mrs. C Saturday evening when she came in with them to help set up our multi-purpose room for a Sunday program. She said Mrs. C's kids had been behind the desk at one point. They too seemed unlikely suspects, though, as they are toddlers and Mrs. C would surely have noticed them toddling around with $40 in cash and change.

This left us with a very unsettling probability; if the cash was present at closing on Saturday afternoon, but was missing at opening Sunday morning then it had likely been stolen in the interim. For that to have happened, the thieves either broke into the building somehow, gained access to the building via a door left unlocked, or they had found some place to hide in the building on Saturday, stole the money after Ms. M and Mrs. C had departed and then departed themselves. None of these were beyond the realm of possibility.

My best guess was that someone had snuck in after hours. See, thanks to some pretty shitty cost-cutting on the part of our building sub-contractors, the front doors of the new "liberry" were not of the strength and permanence one would hope for in exterior doors of a public building such as ours. The doors that were installed, you see, were actually doors designed to be used within the interior of a building and not as actual exterior doors. They were stout enough for interior doors and they work "okay" for exterior ones, but they're only passable at best. (And on that note, the interior foyer doors were none too solid, either, as the board that held one pneumatic hinge to the overall door frame was yanked from said frame one day by a 60-year-old woman. Turns out, when that particular board had been installed, the contractors hadn't used long enough screws to actually secure it into the foyer housing. "Thanks, shitty contractors!") Compounding the problem was the fact that these wrong doors had not been installed correctly to begin with, which made them very tricky to lock. They had to be aligned just right by hand or their locking bolts would not set into both the floor and ceiling shafts. If only one bolt was set, the doors could be popped open with only a little effort.

Once we realized the trickiness of our door's locking system, soon after we opened, we made it a point to teach and reteach all the staff the rituals involved in getting them properly locked. Even then, it still came back to bite us once in a while. Assuming that Ms. M had locked the doors correctly, someone in Mrs. C's function-setup-party might have exited that door and not known to double check it behind them.

The other possibilities mentioned were just as likely, but there was no real way to know how the thieves gained access to the money. Or so we thought. As it turns out, we now have a pretty good idea how it happened. And once again, our Junior "Liberry" Clubhouse Detectives' solution involves the bladder of one of our patrons.


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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.