The Only Papers She Needs Are To Check Her Into An Asylum

, , , | Right | December 3, 2019

(It’s a busy day at our small library, and my coworker and I are swamped. Our public printer is behind the desk; patrons pay us and we hand them what they print. Amid helping half a dozen children and teens, the mother of some of them storms behind the desk and grabs her documents off the printer.)

Patron: “I’m taking these! I’ll pay you later when I’m done printing everything!”

Coworker: “Um… okay? But—”

(My coworker immediately gets overwhelmed by the demands of the customer she was in the middle of helping and doesn’t pursue the issue further. However, she shoots me a look at this lady’s attitude. I’m also busy helping return and check out DVDs to several adults, but I keep my eye on the printer. Every time a document comes out, I grab it and hide it even farther behind our work desk. These documents belong to several people in the library, not just the lady in question. When I catch a moment to breathe, I turn around and the lady is literally right in my face, right next to our cash register, and trying to grab her prints from the pile of documents; some of which don’t even belong to her and contain sensitive information.)

Me: “Woah! Ma’am, you cannot be back here!”

(Surprised, I snatch all the papers before she can grab them.)

Patron: “I’m just grabbing my papers!”

Me: “You can’t be back here; you have to go around the front of the desk.”

Patron: “I just want my papers! You can’t steal them from me! They’re mine!”

Me: “You haven’t paid for these yet. Now please go around to the right side of the desk!”

Patron: “Give me my papers! The other lady said I could come back here whenever I want! I need to see what I printed so I don’t print duplicates!”

Coworker: “I’m sorry I caused confusion. But you can’t be back here.” *trying not to escalate the situation*

Patron: *waves her finger in my face* “This woman!” *storms off* “I don’t even want those papers anymore!”

(The lady grabs her purse from the computer and storms out, leaving her children behind. There’s three, roughly the ages of eight, fourteen, and somewhere in between. The kids look really uncomfortable, but they go back to what they were doing; one is on the computer playing quietly, and the other two are asking my coworker about books. About fifteen minutes later, the lady storms back in. She edges as close as she can around our desk without technically being behind it and leans further over so she’s in my face. She starts wagging her finger at my nose again.)

Patron: “Listen to me. You can’t treat people that way. I’m not some thief. I would have paid for those papers! If I hadn’t known I couldn’t go behind the desk, I wouldn’t have!”

Me: *looks over at her kids, who are lined up politely with a bunch of other kids and waiting their turn at the front of the desk* “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but it’s common sense the line starts here.”

Patron: “The other lady told me I could come behind the desk any time I want! You’d better watch yourself!”

Me: “Are you threatening me?”

(By this time, our armed security guard has come over after having witnessed the whole thing.)

Security: “Ma’am, you can’t talk that way. You cannot threaten these women.”

Patron: “I’m not threatening anyone! I’m just telling this woman here that she’d better watch her attitude! She can’t talk to anyone so rude like that!”

Security: “Ma’am, there’s no need for you to be rude. You cannot talk to these women like this. You can calm down, or you can leave.”

Patron: “I would have never gone behind the desk I’d I’d have known! That lady told me I could! You can’t steal my papers from me! You can’t treat me like this!” *waving her finger at both me and the man with the gun*

Me: “Ma’am, please calm down.”

Patron: “This b****!” *storms out again, leaving her children behind* “I don’t want those d*** papers, anyway!” *slams the door*

Regular: *checking out DVDs* “I always wondered why you guys needed a security guard. The library always seemed so nice.”

(An hour later, the angry lady came back yet again. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me and did her best to make sure I didn’t see her. She rounded up her kids, who had followed all library rules and caused no trouble. She went to my coworker and paid for her papers and left. I hope she never comes back.)

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