And there always seems to be an abundance of assholes around the library. Go figure.
A good number of our patrons have something in common – a lot of free time on their hands. For one reason or another they have enough spare time to hang out every day, all day at the library. Honestly, there are worse places for them to be hanging out. But as with most things in life, the less someone has to worry about, the smaller the things that will set them off. I’ve seen it happen. A lot.
I’ve watched adults pitch a fit because someone had the newspaper they wanted. I’ve been yelled at over a thirty cent fine (more than once). I’ve watched patrons flip out over (literally) nothing and start throwing things. I don’t get it but it happens and what is best is watching someone freaking out because they have their own ideas about how a library should work.
Once while shelving DVDs one of the girls was cornered by an older man. He pointed to the DVDs and got right in her face.
“Have you see some of these movies you have!? They’re perverted filth!”
“I’m sorry?” She backed away from him a little.
He pointed again to one of our many GLBT films and shouted some more. My co-worker just kind of nodded a little while she was trying to edge away from him. But he was having none of it. Every time she backed up, he followed. Finally he broke down and just started shouting the same thing over and over again.
“This is public library not a pubic library!”
It was all I could do to not burst out laughing.
Not long after that another co-worker and I were shelving some books when she was approached by a patron.
“Are you a librarian?” He was dressed like a fairly normal patron but the hurricane-reporter-esque hair and the wild eyes were a bit tip off that not every thing was 100% upstairs.
“No I’m not, but I do work here. Is there something I can help you with?”
“You’re a liar!” he snapped at her, stepping too close too fast (I headed over to make sure he wasn’t going to do anything stupid). “I know the law! If you work here then you have to be a librarian!”
My co-worker didn’t quite know what to say to that (neither did I, for that matter).
“Do you think I don’t know! I know! I know the law! Don’t you lie to me!”
“Uh….” We both kind of gaped at him for a minute. “If you want to speak to a librarian, the reference desk is right over there.”
He stood there and glared at us for a minute before stomping off.
“Did that really just happen?” She asked when he was gone.
“Let’s pretend it didn’t.”
Thinking back on it, it makes me happy I moved in to a position that put a counter between me and our patrons. Some of them are a little unstable.