Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bits & Pieces

Sergeant will not show anyone else his war face. It’s really starting to tick me off. Why be shy around Marina, except if she brings out your own shyness with hers? To deny her the fun of seeing the war face is just cruel to me and I don’t appreciate it. It makes me want to show him my own war face.

* * *

I need to work on developing a convincing and frightening war face.

* * *

While I was in the middle of speaking with a patron today, an older woman approached and interrupted me mid-sentence by shouting, “Excuse me! Excuse me, Ma’am!”

I have come to realize that this is not going to be a dire emergency in need of 9-1-1, nor is it even a mild emergency requiring a squirt gun full of pickle juice. No, this is a personality flaw, and whether it turns into me needing to call 9-1-1 because the patron is murdered by my hand or squirting the offender with pickle juice will suffice depends on how they accept my reaction, which is a stock reaction of, “Hold on. I’m in the middle of helping someone else right now,” and I gesture toward the person standing right in front of me.

Usually this cools their heels. Occasionally they storm off in a huff. Two patrons have refused to accept this answer and demanded immediate attention, which was, for both patrons, the need to have a computer instantly so that they could check their email.

Need I tell you that they did not get what they wanted, when they wanted it? No, I don’t. You know me well.

It’s also worth noting that both these patrons are now banned from our library because the rudeness didn’t stop there.

Anyway, today my interrupter waited her turn and then told me she needed to fax something. I informed her of the cost, sent her to Circulation to pay for her fax need, and asked her to bring the pages and receipt from Circ to me when she was ready.

She replied, (and I type in caps because she spoke so damn loud) “HOW MANY PAGES IS IT GOING TO BE?”

I was befuddled. How could I know this answer?

Me: Well, that depends on how many pages you have to send through.

Patron: I DON’T KNOW! THAT’S WHY I’M ASKING YOU. HOW MANY PAGES AM I GOING TO SEND?

Truly, I wasn’t sure what to say.

Me: I…I…I don’t know how many pages you need to send. What are you trying to send?

Patron: ALL OF THIS!

She held up three pieces of paper.

Me: Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm, that looks like three pieces of paper to me, so if you need to send all three of those, then you have three pages to send.

She looked confused.

I know I was confused.

Me: Soooooooooooooooooo, if you have three pages to send, that will cost you $3.

Patron: I KNOW IT’S GOING TO COST THREE DOLLARS! I’M NOT A MORON. I CAN ADD.

Me: Okay, I guess I’m not sure what your question was.

Patron: HOW MANY PAGES DO I HAVE TO SEND THEM?

At that point I gave up.

Me: Well, that’s between you and them. Find out what they want, and each piece of paper you need to fax counts as a page.

She huffed and waddled off to pay Circ.

She came back with one page and a receipt for $1 in faxing.

Now I was really confused.

But wait! It gets worse!

I sent the page through, received the confirmation, handed it over to her, and was gleeful to be done with my dealing with her.

Patron: SO WHERE DO I SIGN?

Me: Sign what?

Patron: I’M SUPPOSED TO GET A CONFIRMATION BACK FROM THEM, SIGN IT, AND FAX IT BACK.

Me: This confirmation is from our fax machine saying that it successfully sent your fax. This didn’t come from the company you sent it to. Do you have arrangements with them to send something back here when they receive yours?

Patron: NO.

Me: Maybe you should make those arrangements.

Patron: FINE. CAN I USE YOUR PHONE? I’LL JUST CALL TO CONFIRM THEY GOT IT AND ASK WHAT THEY WANT ME TO DO AFTER THAT.

I said yes and dialed the number for her, thinking it would be a quick and easy call.

Nothing is ever quick and easy.

It turns out, she was faxing to the phone company, and that’s who she called using my phone.

Seriously.

For the next thirty minutes, I sat near her as she screamed into my phone that she needed her home phone service turned back on, and they gave her instructions on how to go about that, which she did not like, and more screaming ensued.

I repeatedly asked her to keep her voice down, but for an unknown reason, I didn’t ask her to end the call. This was partly because I’d let her start it and just wanted her to be done and over, and partly because she kept saying she was done with them and said extra loudly, “GOODBYE!”

However, these were not ends to the call. These were her personal ends to dealing with whatever conversation she was having with the person on the other end. More yelling followed.

At more than one point, she was instructed to call back in 40 minutes, which she challenged. I shuddered. I was going to have to deal with her for 40 minutes while she waited, and then let her use my phone for another round of this? Oh no! No way!

Finally she hung up, and without waiting a moment for her to say she was going to need the phone again, I pounced.

Me: Ma’am, I’m sorry, but that was an incredibly long call, and extremely disturbing not just to my workflow, but for everyone nearby. If you have to call the phone company back, you’re going to have to go to a friend or family member’s house. We simply cannot accommodate this kind of need.

Patron: OH. I’M SORRY. SO I CAN’T CALL BACK FROM THIS PHONE?

Me: No. There are already a number of voice mails waiting for me just during the time you were using the phone, and I can’t have the line tied up that long. I have other patrons I need to help.

Patron: OKAY. THANK YOU. AND I’M SORRY.

I accepted her apology and smiled my fakest smile of mild sympathy.

A part of me wondered how many years that took off my life.

* * *

Two patrons who had been present during the aural assault of this patron calling the phone company sighed in relief that the noise was finally gone.

One threw his hands in the air and said, “Hallelujah!”

The other stood up and announced to all the other computer users that they could all relax and get back to whatever they were doing because the storm had passed.

I had to apologize to our patrons for letting that go on so long, even though I asked her repeatedly to quiet down. She couldn’t be quieted. My guess is she was hard of hearing, but she seemed to hear me fine while I spoke at a normal volume and she bellowed at me.

I really hate having to apologize to our patrons. That won’t happen again.

* * *

While Marina and I spoke with a bison vendor at the local farmer’s market today, we were shown a photo of twin buffalo calves at his farm, and we were invited up to see them.

Frolicking baby buffaloes, a youthful shade of tawny sand, skipping about on his farm: too sweet. He went on to tell us about how he was plowing a field where the grass and alfalfa had grown to three-feet in height, and the twins chased the tractor around, thinking it was a toy. The mama buffalo finally rounded them up and he was able to continue with his plowing. Touching story. Proud human caregiver.

Anyone want three pounds of buffalo meat? Don’t know that I can eat it now.

* * *

This weekend, Ann and I were held hostage by about 50,000 people at the Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, which is only slightly smaller than the Taste of Chicago, with more artisans and less food. We were held hostage by the crowds who could neither move at a reasonable pace, realize that they were holding up traffic, or recognize the clear signs that I was about to commit mass murder on their drunk asses because I was sunburned, hungry, tired, had to pee, and had somehow spent all my cash and only remembered eating a small strawberry shortcake while sitting in a flower bed in a dirty parking lot, next to a dumpster. And that was the highlight. There were just too many goddamn people, which is a gross understatement because ten is too many goddamn people in my opinion, so 50,000 was the stuff of my nightmares.

However, on our way home we pulled off the highway and had cheese curds at Culver’s, which were delish and one area where Wisconsin does it right.

We sat in the parking lot for roughly three hours, enjoying the weather and conversation, and this is usually when we share strange things about ourselves with one another, with this day being no exception.

As a kid, I suffered an enormous amount of anxiety for one reason or another: unhappy home life, volatile father, insane mother, despair, abuse and poverty, among others. From a very early age, I built tents. Not real tents, but makeshift tents. I took all the blankets in the house, whatever furniture I could borrow that wouldn’t be missed immediately, and I built tents that no one else was allowed to enter. Often they were just large enough for me to sit in, and I would sit silently in them for hours, almost in a meditative state, just enjoying the sensation of feeling safe. Nothing bad could or ever did happen in my tents. They were my refuge.

When I had a nervous breakdown in my teen years and locked myself in my closet for 9 months, it was the same idea, just a different setting. No one was allowed inside, and as long as I didn’t leave it, I felt safe.

Upon sharing this bizarre side of myself with Ann, she asked me where I flee to when I need to feel safe now, and it surprised me to know we both have the same safe place: our cars.

I need to drive every single day, whether I have a destination or not. This is where I feel the freest. This is where I sing at the top of my lungs, which I will not do in the presence of any human on this planet, and where I frequently burst into spontaneous tears and cry myself into a coughing, sniffling fit. I hide from my family by going for drives, and feel so much more attached to my car than I do most of my other possessions. It is my tent.

Ann asked, “Do you feel uncomfortable allowing anyone into your car?”

The answer seemed strange, but we both agreed that because our cars are sacred to us, we do not comfortably allow just anyone inside. Occasions have required that we give rides to some we would rather not give passage into our sacred haven, but necessity trumped emotion and we suffered through it.

It’s quite strange, but I bet many people feel the same way.

If you feel like commenting and sharing your “tent”, I’d love to know what you consider your safe haven now that you’re a grown up.

12 comments:

Pixie the dog said...

Safe space: my bathroom. If things are really rough, then the bathtub or shower.

heavenlyevil said...

My safe place is still my room. But as of yet I live with my in-laws, so I suspect it will be my house or car in the future when I have these things.

GeekChic said...

My safe space is my Lego room. I collection Legos and find building them to be very relaxing. I have an entire room at my own house and one at my childhood home filled with Legos in various stages of completion.

My husband and parents all know not to disturb me when I'm building in my Lego room - they don't even come in unless I invite them in.

My best friend sends me Legos when I seem to be particularly stressed.

Anonymous said...

My safe place is under a blanket. When my father would launch into drunken evil, I hid, covered my face, and tried not to breath loudly. That this happened more than 40 years ago and I still can't sleep without a blanket is something I'm OK with since I know trauma cuts to the bone of your soul.

Happy Villain said...

Pixie:
I'm with you there. Those are alternates of mine as well.

Heavenlyevil:
Well, m'dear, I hope you have your house and car very soon. We all need a safe haven.

GeekChic:
I <3 your answer. If I knew you, I'd send you Legos too.

Anon:
My heart goes out to you. When people make blankets for the homeless, it brings tears to my eyes because blankets mean so much more to me than just a body covering, particularly if you bring with you those associations from childhood. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite movies, Radio Flyer, when the narrator lists the seven lost secrets of childhood, one of which is that, "your favorite blanket is woven from a fabric so mighty, that once pulled over your head, it becomes an impenetrable force field," and some of us still hold tight to this belief.

Debbie said...

I also escape to my car. Sometimes I go for a drive on my lunch break, even though there's nowhere to go, and sometimes I just sit in there and read. I'd rather spend a few bucks on gas than buy new clothes.

Cielle said...

When I'm stressed, I need to get out and move rather than close myself in. I walk, preferably somewhere fairly wild and secluded, maybe near water. There's something soothing about the simplicity and solitude.

- And I suspect the war face was hidden from Marina because somehow he knew being threatening toward her is a bad idea. Marina's got the best kind of war face, the one you don't see until there's a spork sticking in you.

Leelu said...

I don't have one. I'm not allowed privacy anymore—even when the intent is there, something happens that requires breaking it.

The closest thing I have is the internet, a game, or a book, and I never get those uninterrupted.

Kate P said...

That was a powerful thing to share about safe places. If you know the cartoon "Daria" from MTv, there's an episode called "Boxing Daria" where she hid in a refrigerator box in the backyard for a while during some sad times.

I'm with Leelu about feeling safe when buried in books. And my writing. Only a very trusted person could read my work in progress.

Happy Villain said...

Debbie:
I totally get that. You must have less traffic by you than I do. :)

Cielle:
That sounds like a very healthy haven for you, and your connection to nature clearly benefits, but I bet you spend a fair amount of time doing likewise when you're not stressed, as well. You're right about Marina, but like most things with her, even the fact that she might choose a spork to stab someone is cute.

Leelu:
You sound like B.E., who has three out-of-work roommates he "babysits" all day, and his only peace is when he takes a poop. You have games and books, which smell better. Unless they're from the library, and then...

Kate:
It was powerful? Hmm. I don't remember that episode of Daria, but I remember watching the show and thinking she was way more extroverted than me, so I didn't relate too much. That's cool about books and writing. I hadn't even considered those because they're so easily interrupted, but it's good to know it works for some folks.

Magnoire La Chouette said...

Welcome Fellow Agoraphobics..
My dearest wish in life is to live under my bed.
But I have to clean it out first.

Cat. said...

I'm so late in chiming in here that I'll limit myself to three comments:

1) Maybe she was hard of SPEAKING. I have met so many people who are simply incapable of speaking quietly. My conjecture is they have a VERY LOUD FAMILY and so they have to TALK EVEN LOUDER to be heard.

2) My family members who used to live in Cburg HATED the festival season. I remember them saying they hated living in a "quaint" town, because they didn't get a McD's until about 1986 because the city felt it would destroy the ambience of Quaint. Cuz, yeah, the DQ was amping QUAINT at all moments. sigh

3) I used to love building tents! In the house, against the fence in the backyard...wow, flashback to childhood. When I want to get away now--parental moment here--I lock the door to the bathroom and turn on the exhaust fan and sit on the edge of the tub, or the toilet lid and read till my legs are dead. Or I take a bath.

(the captchas are killing me today: this one is PITYEE)