Floating With The Hot Air Of An Angry Karen

, , | Right | February 21, 2020

(We are a small branch library that offers classes and also allows community groups to rent rooms for events. On a Saturday night, a group has a small celebration party and because it is Christmas, they bring along some holiday-themed helium balloons which they leave behind.)

Children’s Librarian: “We should leave the balloons up in the room to make it a little more festive!”

(I agree. A couple of days later, there is a class in the same room. After the class, one of the participants and her daughter are wandering around the library’s main floor. The daughter, who appears to be maybe nine or ten, has all the balloons. I am about to ask if they asked for the balloons when the children’s librarian says:)

Children’s Librarian: “Now, honey, if you’re going to take those, you’d better hang on tight. If they get away from you, the ceiling is too tall for us to get them back for you.”

(The child agrees that she will hang on. I conclude from this that the children’s librarian has given the girl permission to take the balloons. I am just as glad, since the things can be a big problem if they start floating around. We’ve had them set off alarms after hours and have had to pay for false alarms with the security company. Within ten seconds of agreeing that she will hold on tight, the little girl frees all the balloons and they are airborne. Fortunately, a very tall patron is able to grab them all and hand them back to the child.)

Children’s Librarian: “See? You have to keep an eye on them! Maybe tie them around your wrist tight so they don’t get loose.”

(The mother and daughter go to their car. They put the balloons inside and return.)

Mother: *to me* “I want her name.”

Me: “Whose name?”

Mother: *points past me to the children’s librarian* “HER name. She was rude to my child! I want to report her to the manager here.”

([Children’s Librarian] is kind of a toughie who was raised in the rough side of town. She decides to play the game, swaggers over, leans her elbow on my shoulder, and says:)

Children’s Librarian: “My name is [Children’s Librarian] and THIS—” *indicating me* “—is my manager.”

Me: *looking at the mother attentively* “What was the problem?”

Mother: “She embarrassed my daughter!”

Me: “When was that?”

Mother: “First, she told her to hang on to the balloons as if she thought my daughter was too stupid to hold on to them. Then, when my daughter let them go, she told her she should have held on tighter. My daughter is embarrassed.”

([Children’s Librarian] is mulling this over and is about to apologize to the young girl, when the girl snaps back with a rehearsed speech.)

Girl: “Yeah. I’m only a kid. It was an accident. I’m a kid; you should expect kids to have accidents.”

(Usually, I hate confrontation, but this level of insanity is pushing my buttons. So, I pull out my favorite non-apology.)

Me: “I’m so sorry you feel you have been insulted, but there is a reason we told her to be careful.”

(I launch into the speech about how helium balloons have caused alarm problems in the past and finish with:)

Me: “—so [Children’s Librarian] wasn’t trying to insult you; she just wanted to reinforce the lesson you had already learned. You aren’t going to let them loose again, right?”

Girl: *reluctantly* “No.”

(They leave amicably and even wish us a Merry Christmas.)

Me: *to [Children’s Librarian]* “I can’t believe she got all upset over that, especially since you were nice enough to tell the little girl she could take the balloons home with her.”

Children’s Librarian: *laughing out loud* “I thought you told her she could have them!”

(The two of us started laughing over the fact that mother and daughter essentially stole balloons that, as far as they knew, belonged to the library, and were complaining about being reminded to hang on to them. Some days it doesn’t pay to take things seriously.)

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