Fear And Self-Loathing In The Library

, , , , , | Right | December 20, 2018

(We have a gay and lesbian section of our library. It’s relatively small, so you really have to know where it is to actually find it. A father and his son come up to the main desk.)

Me: “How can I help you today, sir?”

Father: “You should ashamed of yourselves, displaying this filth for anyone to see. My son could have found it!”

(The man throws a book at me, which I realise is a gay fiction book. Without actually reading the title, the design of the cover offers no suggestion that it is gay fiction.)

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that you have been upset by this. Was it in the wrong section?”

Father: “No! It was in the sinful corner!”

Me: “On the top shelf, where you literally have to look up to find it?”

Father: *throwing his hands up* “I should’ve known. You’re one of the [gay slur]s. I bet you have been sneaking these in undercover to try and convert innocent children!”

Me: “Sir, my sexuality has nothing to do with you, but if you continue to use language like that I—“

Father: “Get…”

Me: “Will…”

Father: “Me…”

Me: “Have…”

Father: “A…”

Me: “To….”

Father: “Manager….”

Me: “Ask….”

Father: “NOW!”

Me: *pause* “Of course.”

(I call my manager down, and the man spends about ten minutes berating her about how inappropriate it is to force gay literature on children, and how I should not only be fired, but executed for my crimes.)

Manager: “I’m sorry you feel this way, but there is nothing I can do. Homosexuality is not regarded in the same manner as you by me or any other employee at this library, and to do as you are suggesting would go against my moral code.”

Father: “Well, f*** your ‘moral code.’ [Gay slurs] are—“

(This is where everything gets very strange. The man starts describing, in excessively graphic detail, the sexual acts between several men, in full view of his son — who must only be about five. He spends so long doing it, detailing literally everything, from the genitals to the fluids and sounds, that my manager is stood there, mouth agape and a crowd gathers behind him. When he finishes, his cheeks are flushed and he is out of breath.)

Manager: *after a pause* “Well, I don’t really know what to say to that.”

Man #1: “Are you sure you aren’t gay, mate?”

Father: *spinning around* “WHAT?!”

Man #2: “Yeah, I’ve got to admit. That was pretty hot. I can’t imagine how you would know all that if you were disgusted by it so much; I didn’t even know some of it.”

(The father blushes before dragging his son out.)

Man #1: “It’s a shame people like him don’t feel comfortable enough to be themselves. Imagine what his son is going to think!”

(I never saw the father after that, but his son comes in with his school every other week.)

You Should Have Waited For Me!

, , , , | Right | December 15, 2018

(This is in mid-January. An older man approaches me at the circulation desk.)

Customer: “Do you have tax forms here?”

Me: “I don’t think so; we normally don’t get those until later in the month.”

Customer: “Well, I called and talked to someone who said you do.”

Me: “If we have any, they’ll be on the counter in the computer area, but I didn’t notice any when I was back there earlier.”

Customer: “Well, I’ll go take a look.” *leaves and comes back a few minutes later* “They’re not back there. Why would somebody tell me you had them here when you don’t?”

Me: “Do you know who you spoke with? When did you call?”

Customer: “I don’t remember; it was about ten months ago.”

Me: “Well, sir, in that case, they would have been talking about last year’s forms. If you called ten months ago, that would have been March of last year, so we would have had last year’s forms out. We haven’t received the forms for this year yet.”

Customer: “But why would they tell me you had them, and then when I come in you don’t have them? That’s a waste of my time!”

Me: “When you called, we did have them, for last year. But the forms are different each year; we haven’t received the ones for this year yet.”

Customer: “I still don’t understand why someone would say you have the forms when you don’t have them. I called and they told me you have the forms, and now when I come in, you don’t have them. This has just been a big waste of my time.”

How About You Take The Advice AND Make More Hot Chocolate?

, , , | Right | December 12, 2018

(I volunteer at my local library from middle school until I leave the area for college, and during that time I am the youngest staff member by about forty years. Given my age and familiarity with the library, the other staff members frequently come to me for opinions on book-related things for younger library patrons. This particular occasion, however, is one I may never be able to forget.)

Head Librarian: “Hey, [My Name], you’re pretty familiar with book trends for teens, right?”

Me: “Yeah, I keep track. I like to pay attention to what the other kids at school are reading, and I check what’s selling well online.”

Head Librarian: “Right. Do you think you could come up with a list of things we could do to get a bigger teen presence in the library? Different things we could have in stock that they would consider worth it?”

Me: “Sure. Not a problem.”

(I spend a significant chunk of my summer vacation on this project, listing out the most popular things I know kids at the local high school like, as well as researching what’s growing in popularity. Then I take it back to the head librarian.)

Me: “There are three main problem areas in our inventory. First, there aren’t any comic books, manga, or graphic novels. They’re very popular, and that popularity is only growing. I highly recommend getting some collections in both junior fiction and young adult fiction, because that alone is going to be a great way to start. Second, we have a DVD collection, but it’s rather sparse and outdated, and it contains almost no television. It would be a smart investment to commit to a wider collection of DVDs, because they’ll bring teens in the door, and from there the rest of the library will be used. Third, new adult fiction. I know it’s an iffy genre, but making a separate section just for books geared a bit older than the standard young adult will make that whole section a lot more user-friendly for the older teens who want to read more mature books without jumping straight to adult fiction.”

(She’s just staring at me, so I press on, handing her a few stapled-together sheets of paper.)

Me: “I put together lists of the most recommended comics, graphic novels, and manga, as well as some recommendations for DVDs and new adult fiction.”

Head Librarian: “Hm… I was just thinking you’d tell me everything was fine. Or that we should make more hot chocolate.”

Me: “I mean, that’s fine, but if you want me to tell you what teens are looking for, that’s it.”

Head Librarian: *pause* “Hm… I’m just not sure I believe that’s what’ll work.”

(She then walked away without a thank-you, and nothing I recommended happened. Years later, I was invited to a meeting at the library where an auditor was checking everything over and then giving a recommendation. I showed up, and what do you know. The very first thing he recommended? Manga and graphic novels.)

Throw The Books At Him

, , , , , | Legal | December 11, 2018

I happen to work at a library that has its fair share of, well, interesting people. And by “interesting,” I mean “dangerous and unpredictable.” We have the ignominious distinction of being the only library in the area that has a full-time security staff.

One regular is a guy who likes to stalk, bully, sexually harass, and intimidate women while drunk on alcohol. Technically, people can come to my library off-their-rear-ends drunk, and we’re not allowed to kick them out unless they prove disruptive, which is beyond stupid, if you ask me. This guy comes up to me and tries to bully me into giving him a dollar to buy headphones. I tell him no, because A, not library policy, and B, he is responsible for his own personal needs. He reacts so loudly and violently that I try to call 911, but I can’t get a signal. He thinks that’s hilarious, and laughs in my face while reeking of vodka. He actually has the gall to drink it right in front of me! I finally get the guy to back off, but he still goes out of his way to be a bullying jerk the entire time.

Later, after we close, I see him hanging around outside. He keeps approaching random women who are sitting down, and shouting in their faces, still visibly drunk. Not liking where this is going, I call 911 on my cell phone. The cops show up six minutes later. I have already left so I didn’t see him get arrested.

I tell my boss what happened. He agrees we should ban him from the property for ninety days for his behavior. Two weeks later, I have the happy pleasure of serving him the paperwork. He tries to wriggle out of it, claiming his identity was stolen, but he still leaves.

Fast forward about three months. Management decides to rescind the ban, thinking he’s been punished adequately.

He thinks that he can get away with the same stuff as before, so he decides to call a little old lady a sexual slur for the fun of it, while drunk again. Only this time, the old lady decides to complain to a female police officer who happens to be in the building. The officer drags the guy by the arm to escort him out of the building. He is loudly asking what law has he broken, and using all kinds of terrible language, when he suddenly reaches into his pocket. Because she’s a cop, this ends with her wrestling him to the ground and holding him there. The whole time she’s waiting for backup, he won’t stop screaming about how he’s going to sue everyone, calling the officer all kinds of sexual and racial slurs, and causing quite the large crowd to gather, me included. I smile enormously as he sits there and suffers the full penalty for his sins.

I get to watch as ten cops — ten! — show up in six minutes.

I don’t care how much hate it gets me. I enjoy that immensely.

This time, he’s banned for a year. And if he tries to sneak in again — which is not uncommon — I will have the pleasure of reminding him what took place that day.

I don’t think he’ll try anything.

Unfiltered Story #131653

, , | Unfiltered | December 8, 2018

(It’s 8pm, I’m working alone at the Reference Desk and am in the middle of assisting patron #1 -via phone- who has multiple, complex questions. Patron #2, who had been quietly working at a nearby computer for several hours, now needs help with printing.)

Patron #2: Hey! You!

Me: (Not realizing that Patron #2 is addressing me, I keep talking to Patron #1) I tried using [Search Term XYZ] but it didn’t….

Patron #2: Hey, yooou! Are you going to help me with printing or not? This is ridiculous, not getting help when I need it!

Me: (covers mouthpiece) I’m sorry, I’m helping another patron on the phone, I will come help you as soon as I can.

Patron #2: I need help printing NOW! I’m going to be late catching my bus!! This is the second time today I’ve needed help and haven’t been able to get it! This is ridiculous!

Me: I can’t help you right at this moment, because I am helping another patron, but please go ask the checkout desk for help, and they will be able to send someone down.

Patron #2: FINE!  (He glares at me, and walks the 50 feet to the checkout desk, and comes back alone, and yells at the top of his lungs back towards the checkout desk) HEY! YOU BETTER HURRY UP! I’M GOING TO BE LATE FOR MY BUS!  *He turns to look directly at me, and he glares at me again. Less than 30 seconds later someone was there to help, and it took about another 30 seconds to resolve the problem and get Patron #2 his printouts. I finished helping Patron #1 just as Patron #2 was walking out of the library. I went up to the checkout desk to vent, and see if Patron #2 had been rude to them as well. Suddenly…)

Patron #2: *stomping back into the library* HEY! Are you talking about me??

Me:  Yes, because your behavior was rude, demanding, and uncalled for! I was helping another patron on the phone and I could not help you until I was done.

Patron #2:  Yeah, I had to go get help like you suggested! But it should have been you to help me because it’s your area!

Me: I could not stop helping the other patron, as they asked for help first and I did not know how long fixing your problem would take. Because you were in a hurry, I gave an alternative suggestion that you accepted and got the help you needed.

Patron #2: But it’s YOUR area! It’s ridiculous that you couldn’t help me!!

Me: Ok, what do you think should I have done instead? Hang up on the other patron?

Patron #2: (silent for a minute) I’m just a simple student that needed help, but I guess I will know better next time! (Turns to leave)

Me: If you are in such a hurry, why did you take the time to come back in to yell at me?  (Patron #2 pauses, looks back over his shoulder, glares at me again, and leaves. I walk back to the reference desk, and noticed that a USB drive was plugged into the computer Patron #2 had been using. Lost USB drives are common, and we try to find out who they belong to and get it back to the owner. I pull it, note the name, and Patron #3 sits at the same computer Patron #2 was using.  Next thing I know…. )

Patron #2 (addressing patron #3): Hey, I’m missing a USB drive, have you seen it? (They begin to look, I am sorely tempted to not say anything, but…)

Me (holding up the USB drive and using a neutral tone): Is this what you’re looking for?

Patron #2 (looking barely embarrassed): Uh, yes. Uhm, I’m sorry about my behavior. I’ve been here since 10am and I’m really tired, and um I should know better than to take my frustrations out on other people.

Me: Appreciated.  (Patron #2 starts to leave, again.)

Patron #3: YOU’RE FORGIVEN!!

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