Thursday, April 3, 2008

ding. ding. ding.

That's my "holy crap! crazy person!" alert system. Made every single alarm bell in my head go off...

"Hello, wonderful!"

I look up from my desk to find a sketchy little crazy-eyed twitchy dude. He says he wants books on Elvis. ("Oh God, oh no - I have to go back into the stacks with him?") I took him to the books, did the "personal space two-step" (You take one step toward me, I take one step back. I am hyper aware of this since one of our younger librarians got groped in the 900's) and got the hell out of there before he called me "honey" or "wonderful" one more time.

I got back to the safe zone behind my desk and and before I could get back to ordering audiobooks*, Mr. Twitchy was standing at my desk. Again. And he just would not shut up. It was as if every single thought passing through his brain was falling out of his mouth. I sat there, smiling blandly in his general direction, trying my best to avoid eye contact because, I swear to Thoth, I don't think he blinked once during his entire rant and it was freaking me the fuck out.

I thought to myself, "If I just sit here very quietly, maybe he'll lose interest and move on." I forced myself into stillness. I thought happy thoughts.

I heard things like, "that's the way I do things here in Amerrrica" and "I warsh his boats and he makes sure to buy me a case of Coca-Cola everyday" and "I paid my debts, I owed the bookie a buck fifteen" and "I got a haircut yesterday, 'cause I was starting to look like a wolf!" There were no stops for this particular train of thought and I was being dragged along for the ride.

He paused long enough to ask, "Do you have a name, wonderful?"

My heart was thunking like crazy in my chest by this point and I'm sure my smile had long since disappeared. "NO," I said. "No, I don't."

He sure blinked then...and finally, blessedly, shut up.

*a study has shown that librarians get interrupted every five minutes, on average.

13 comments:

Sebastian said...

I never would have imagined the mentally deranged would be attracted to libraries.

Lydia said...

I suggest showing all crazies to the books about leopards.

doubletrouble said...

My God, that's disgusting!
Groped IN THE 900s!
I wish you hadn't been so descriptive...

John said...

I guess some people need the presence of large amounts of geography and history to become aroused...

hairy hobbit said...

you should of just had the cops haul him off for suspicion of loitering where children gather like poor creepy Victor Emmer.

DirtCrashr said...

I will never again try and chat-up a Librarian - they have seen too much of the dark and seamy-side, of the 900's: Geography and History...

Earl said...

Not enough competition for female attention in the library: hire more men, attract a few well-mannered reading thugs (heroic protective of children and ladies) "They are in the military in Iraq but will come back", AND definitely get rid of the GUN FREE ZONE posters. And remember to never work alone!!!!! Where do they think the insane, criminal and can't take care of themselves go for light, warmth and illusions while in town?

TJH said...

I have to admit that as a male I tend to drone on about subjects that interest me, and sometimes miss the subtle "shut-the-hell-up" cues. I guess it comes with being a nerd, too.

Though I don't call librarians by "hey wonderful", I really wouldn't want to discuss my gambling losses, my hygiene shortcomings... or admit that I work in exchange for soda instead of money? What kind of interest could he earn on that? Your twitchy fellow reminds me of this.

Edwardo said...

Awwwww, he thought you were cute. To bad he smoked all his meth just to get up enough courage to talk to you...or to talk AT you rather.

ankhorite said...

Long before I got to the punchline, I was wondering, "Why didn't she tell him, 'Sir, don't call me honey,' or, if polite cover is needed, 'Sir, don't call me honey, my husband doesn't like it.' " (The latter can be perceived as polite cover, or knuckling-under-to-sexism cover, or who-cares-it-works cover).

Or even, "Sir, no one under sixty gets to call me honey" with a "except for my husband" added in, if you prefer.

Also avoidance behavior, but useful: walk him to the endcap of the stack, usher him i, but you stay there, just pointing. If questioned? "Oh, I need to stay where I can keep an eye on my work station." If he swears he can't find what you're pointing to, then, "Oh, can you come stand here and watch my station for me and I'll go into the stack and pull that for you?"

I had to threaten to beat a boss across the face with a steel stapler to get him to stop looming and pawing and shoving his rolling chair up to mine, always trying to do this in a goofy bumper-car way that would separate my legs. All these years of law, and lobbying, and activism, and I say now at the end of life that a direct physical threat shuts down the paw-and-proposition crowd best of any defense.

Breda said...

I'm gonna make you a chick with a gun yet, ankhorite.

the pawnbroker said...

breda, i saw a bunch of these guys in 30 years at the pawn counter...

they are typically alcoholics rather than druggies, at least semi-homeless, and to use your term, "crazy" to varying degrees.

they don't have regular jobs because that would jeopardize the ssi monthly "disability" check even though they can do a lot of jobs...so they often do odd jobs for stores like sweeping or cleaning the parking lot.

my pawn shop was adjacent to a convenience store, and i often let allen, who lived in a tent camp in the woods nearby, sweep or pick up trash, cigarettes, etc. and weed the patch of landscaping outside my front door. he was actually pretty smart; he could work on bikes and lawnmowers, he could read pretty well and had beautiful handwriting...when he didn't have the shakes. sometimes when he was weeding, he would lay down rather than have to bend over and fall on his face from hangover vertigo...and when he had worked long enough to get a couple of 40oz beers and a pack of cigs, and maybe a honeybun, he knocked off for the day, collected his ten bucks from me, and made a beeline for the c-store; these supplies would get him through tonight in the tent, and he would do it all again tomorrow...then on the first of the month when he gets "paid" he might book a couple nights in the flop motel, take a real shower and drink real booze at the "yogi bar" till the money's gone and it's back to the camp.

allen wouldn't hurt anyone, he had empathy for others, would even try to intervene when he saw someone being mistreated, if he didn't fall before he got there. he had perpetually red watery eyes, wore clothes from the salvation army down the street, and had a perpetual aroma of booze seeping out of his pores...but he had travelled all over the country by bicycle and getting a ride when he could, he took off one year with the carnival when they hit the summer circuit...he's even on an old episide of "cops" in albuquerque, the victim of bike theft while he was in a bar of course...that was always good for free beers whenever "his" episode rerun came on the bar tv.

so that could have been allen at your library today, breda...or one of the many who are just like him; he probably didn't know he was freaking you out and thought he was being charming and his version of normal. and besides, the taxpayers provide this great, warm, interesting place to pass six or eight hours of the day...and there are people there who have to talk to him and help him and they can't tell even him to get out!

or...your guy could have been like the bipolar, off his meds, homicidal, full blown psycho like the one who knifed a guy to death in a public restroom because he came in to pee.

how dare government extort money from me to provide that impressive edifice stocked with thousands of portals to knowledge and other worlds, pay educated people who love books and knowledge and stand ready to help inquiring minds find information and enlightenment, and then turn it into a mission harboring many weak, decent, pathetic souls like allen and a few demented, mental grenades waiting for some innocuous event or perceived slight or little voice to tell him to pull the pin...and then expect my wife and/or child to come enjoy what taxpayers have provided, and then whine and feign not understanding the reason why they don't...all the while providing public notice that no one in the building has the capacity to neutralize threats to their lives or safety, that constitution thing notwithstanding? who the fuck is running this monkey house anyway?

so breda; you did the only thing you could do...your guy might have thought he was being interesting and civilized, had an interest in everything elvis, and just liked you...or he might have wanted to slit your throat to see you bleed out in the quiet, private 900's...but i'll tell you what i would insist that my wife or daughter do if they worked in the capacity and circumstances that you do...they would be packing that little model 60 and take their purse with them whenever they left the desk, and they would know what to do if the one in a million worst should happen...and the rules be damned. and with that security in mind and hand, you would never have to try to profile the poor sap at your desk or worry about a trip with him to the back 9; and then, if that guy turned out to be just an allen, he gets treated with dignity, you could offer a bit of empathy, and you just might gain insight into a world that most of us could never imagine, but is real and human and enlightening nonetheless. jtc

MadRocketScientist said...

My wife is a librarian for a major metro library. She's seen all the crazies, including my favorite, the public masterbaiter.

On the plus side, her library has a full time professional security staff (ex and part time cops mostly), so if a patron gets uppity, she can just firmly ask, "Do I need to call security?".