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WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!

, , , | Working | February 7, 2022

I work in a small library in the middle of a neighborhood. The library has a max of four staff, including the branch manager. This morning, the branch manager is not in, so it is just two coworkers and me.

I am the first one to arrive in order to deactivate the security system and start prepping for the day. On my way into the library, I pass a man sitting out front who says good morning. This isn’t unusual as people are always around the library at any time.

I head inside, and a few minutes later, [Coworker #1] shows up.

Coworker #1: “There’s some guy in the field next door on his knees and praying.”

That’s a bit odd, but I think that maybe it’s the guy from before and don’t think anything more. Right before opening, [Coworker #2] shows up.

Coworker #2: “I found a box with a knife tied to it sitting on our book drop! There wasn’t anyone around.”

[Coworker #1] and I mention the man that we saw.

Coworker #2: “I saw no one.”

She locks the box up in our meeting room so it isn’t accessible to any patrons.

When we open, a few patrons come into the library over the span of twenty or thirty minutes. Some are browsing; others are using the computers. In comes the man that I saw this morning with a piece of paper that he sets on the counter. Both of my coworkers are nearby and within earshot.

Man: “Hello. You took my box and knife this morning, and I need you to sign this paper saying I’m legally allowed to have it on property.”

Me: “Uh, no, sir, I cannot. My coworker took your box because it was unattended on our book drop. You legally cannot have a weapon on the property.”

Man: “But you took it, so you must sign this paper or give it back to me.”

[Coworker #2] comes over and stands next to me.

Me: “No, sir. I cannot sign this paper. We will give it back to you, but you cannot have the knife on the property. If we give it back, you have to take the knife off the property.”

Man: “I can’t do that. It’s a ceremonial Irish knife and it’s protecting the contents of the box.”

My coworker and I just stare at the man, trying to process what he is saying.

Me: “Uh, then you can just put the box and knife in your car.”

Man: “I don’t have a car.”

I’m starting to get flustered when my coworker speaks up.

Coworker #2: “I was the one who took your box because there was no one there when I found it. We can’t sign your paper, and we’ll give it back to you, but you can’t have it on the property. You have to do something with it when we give it to you.”

Man: “Okay, I will take it off property, but I need it. The knife is protecting the contents of the box.”

[Coworker #2] goes and retrieves the box and gives it to the man. He leaves the library. [Coworker #2] goes to the office to call the police. The man comes back in, without the box, and gets on one of the computers.

Sometime later, a cop shows up and talks with [Coworker #2] and me. We explain about the man, the box, and the knife. The cop looks at the man and walks over to him. She takes him outside to talk to him. A few minutes later, the cop and the man come back in. The cop comes up to my coworker and me.

Cop: “I asked him to show me where he put the box, and he’d buried it in the field next to the library. I had him open it up and show me the contents, and it’s nothing to worry about. I’ve encountered him numerous times. He’s a bit off but harmless. You don’t have anything to worry about.”

We thanked the cop and she left. The man didn’t stay too long afterward. He left, and to this day, we have no idea what was in the box. It’s definitely one of the strangest experiences I’ve had working in a library so far.

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