Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Patron: I need directions to this address.

Me: There are two addresses here. Which one do you need?

Patron: Oh, I don’t know.

She looked at me, as if I could somehow telepathically know which address on the flier she had to go to. I shrugged my shoulders and shook my head, to let her know that I didn’t know which address she needed directions to either.

Patron: Um, well, maybe the first one.

Me: Okay.

I punched her home address and the address of the destination into Google Maps and it said her address had multiple possibilities.

Me: Do you live on North Meadow Drive, or Meadow Drive.

Patron: I don’t know if it’s Drive or Road. It’s one of the two.

Me: But is it on North Meadow, or just Meadow?

Patron: Drive, I think.

Me: No, there’s a North Meadow Drive, and a Meadow Drive. Which one is yours?

Patron: The one on the Drive.


Patron: Um…Road?

*Deep breaths*

I could hear my coworker giggling, which wasn’t helping.

Me: There. Are. TWO. Meadows. In town. Do you understand?

Patron: Yes.

Me: They are BOTH. Meadow. Drive.

Patron: Okay.

Me: One. Is. NORTH. MEADOW. DRIVE. The other. Is. Just. MEADOW. DRIVE.

Patron: Oh.

Me: Your choice is NORTH MEADOW. OR! MEADOW.

Patron: I don’t know.

Me: What streets are near you?

Patron: Elm and Orchard.

Me: Okay, that’s NORTH Meadow Drive. Just so you know for the future.

When you need to know where your house is, you nitwit.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The other day I had a conversation with a friend that had me laughing so hard, I choked. We were discussing the hilarity of the apparent mystery of glass to dogs, and how no matter how many times they run face-first into a glass door, they still don’t seem to understand the concept. Glass is clear. They don’t see it. They crash violently into something they can’t see. It’s too funny.

So he was telling me a story about how he had a glass door in his house that separated one area of the house from the other, and if the glass was clean, everyone in the house would crash into it, from his dog to his wife and kid.

Already I was laughing because the only thing better than seeing someone run into a glass door is seeing it from the other side, and watching their face scrunch and their body react, which to me, ranks right up there with some of the funniest things in the world.

But his comment on it was priceless.

He attributed to his son a confused voice and said, "Whoa, where’d this forcefield come from?"

I lost it. I was laughing so hard I was choking because that’s exactly it! It’s this invisible forcefield that stuns people and dogs when they run into it.

It’s been stuck in my head ever since. I periodically will just start giggling when I think about it.

Knowing that my brother and I share the same warped sense of humor, I thought he’d appreciate the forcefield comment, so I started telling him the story. I got to the point where the kid crashes into the glass, is taken aback, and I started to quote, "Whoa, where’d—" when my brother cut me off.

He said, "A forcefield! Out of nowhere! There must be Kingons present!"

Dude. Have you ever laughed so hard you were afraid your intestines would just start shooting out of your bellybutton like silly string? That was me. I had to quickly shove a finger in my navel to keep from being disemboweled from laughter.

It’s not enough that my brother had the same brilliant forcefield imagery come to him, but he took it up a level and made it deadly, geeky, and science-fictiony, which probably didn’t apply to my friend’s son, but anyone who runs into glass probably has their own set of nerdy thoughts that explain it away. These were my brother’s.

And he capped it off with something I don’t quite know if I can explain, but I’ll try.

Years ago, we were watching an episode of one of Steve Irwin’s shows, and he was in an African village hunting down a black mamba snake, one of the (or is it THE) deadliest, venomous snakes on the planet, and he actually caught one that had taken a village hostage. He grabbed the mamba by its tail and his body was arched in an attempt to put as much distance between the venomous fangs of this snake and his vulnerable pink flesh. However, the snake reared up and tried to bite him, lunging straight for Mr. Irwin’s balls, and my brother and I both yelled out in horror.

Steve Irwin, in his flamboyant fashion, looked right into the camera and said, "I couldda died!" As you can imagine, my brother and I found this not only endearing, but hilarious.

Since then, whenever anyone does anything remarkably stupid and life threatening, in our best Australian accent we will yell out, "I couldda died!" And then laughter ensues.

So, back to the forcefield joke.

My brother said, "A forcefield! Out of nowhere! There must be Klingons present!"

*Cue navel plugging by me*

And he added, "I couldda died!"

I very nearly did. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in years.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The other day, I was up in the morning making myself breakfast, and my mom was standing around impatiently, waiting for her turn to use the toaster.

I finished my own toast and Mom began hers as I was putting the finishing touches on the rest of my meal. When her toast popped up, she grabbed a butter knife and began shoving it into the toaster to dig out her toast.

Immediately I began screaming.

Me: AAAAHHHH, put the knife down! Put the knife down! PUT IT DOWN!

She, at first, was startled by my reaction and set the knife down. Then she was indignant and defensive about it, as if she felt stupid for listening to me and regretted it.

Mom: WHAT is your PROBLEM?!

Me: OHMYGOD, you can’t put a knife in a toaster! Has no one ever told you that? Have you never heard of anyone being electrocuted by shoving a piece of silverware into a live toaster?

Mom: NO! I’ve never heard of such a thing!

Me: The knife is metal! You’re putting it against, what boils down to, live metal wires inside the toaster, that heat up the bread. If the knife touches the metal in the toaster…YOU’RE toast!

Mom: That’s ridiculous! I do this all the time!

Me: Well, you better not do it ever again! Or you may not live long enough to eat that damn toast.

Mom: You’re so over-dramatic! Jeeze.

Me: Don’t. Put. Silverware. In. The toaster. Look it up if you don’t believe me. You’re going to kill yourself!

Mom: *hmmpf*

So what does she do? I swear, I could not make this up if I tried: she picked up a fork, and shoved it into the toaster, to dig out her toast.


Mom: YOU need to calm down and stop yelling at me! MY GOD! What the hell is your problem?

Me: Did you NOT just hear a word I told you? You cannot stick silverware in the toaster!

Mom: You said the knife!

Me: I SAID SILVERWARE! The metal is the problem! Stick all the plasticware you want in there, but keep the metal out!

Mom: I’ve been sticking a fork or knife into the toaster to get my toast for a month now.

It’s a month-old toaster and much, much bigger and less cooperative than the nice compact one she felt was too small.

Mom: I’ve never had a problem. I’ve never been shocked. You’re making WAY too big a deal out of this!

Me: GO LOOK IT UP! GO LOOK IT UP RIGHT NOW! I swear, woman, I don’t know why you refuse to believe me and insist on doing something that can get you killed. What is YOUR problem? Why would I freak out like this if it wasn’t serious?

Mom: Well, I’ve never heard of it before.

Me: THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT’S NOT TRUE! You think you know EVERYTHING? You think that anything new to you is a lie because you haven’t heard of it before? Like you learned all there is to learn, and everything else is just silliness? Is that what you think? That I’m feeding you some myth about the dangers of toasters?

Mom: Well… I don’t know! I’ve just never heard anything like that before!

Me: Why do you resist everything I say? Why must you argue with everything? Why can’t you just understand that I’m telling you something that you might not be able to comprehend, but it could be true, and maybe you shouldn’t do it if it might kill you? Why? Why, Mom? Tell me why?

Mom: It doesn’t make any sense to me!

Me: Does gravity? Does the economy? Does nuclear physics? Does that mean they don’t exist?

Mom: No!

She was finally relenting in the argument, but she stubbornly kept up her attitude like a spoiled teenager, clinging to the hope that if she’s snotty and resists, she can somehow walk away with some dignity.

I have no doubt that she did NOT look it up, that she rolled her eyes at me and walked away, promising herself that she wouldn’t make toast in my presence again because I have some weird fear of putting metal into a toaster. Silly me. You know how over-dramatic I am.

Should I have let her electrocute herself? Should I have invited her to shove whatever metal instrument into the plugged-in toaster that her heart desired, because she clearly wanted me to give in? How the hell do you get through to a woman who is 21 years older than you, but acts like she’s 21 years younger than you? AND won’t believe a damn word you say? As if I’m the one who has a problem with lying, cheating, stealing, is on probation, and is mentally ill, instead of her. Why does she think that even though she’s psycho, on all kinds of mind-altering and mood-altering medications, has brain damage, has borderline personality disorder, and has to report to a parole officer once a month because she can’t control her impulse to steal, why does she think that she has any room to argue with anyone about anything?

Holy crap, it’s a miracle every fucking day that I come home from work and the house isn’t blown up.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Going Green Tip of the Week

Keep a cactus next to your monitor. A study in Switzerland shows that employees who suffered from headaches and tiredness felt better after working with a cactus next to their monitor. Cacti may have evolved to counter the effects of harsh solar radiation.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


If you've read my blog for a while, you know I have been pleading with the world to include some kind of warning sign to let the rest of the unsuspecting public (or are they?) know about other people's major flaws. Wouldn't it be nice if creepy people had to wear a sign saying they're creepy? Or those prone to fits of rage would wear one saying they're dangerous? How about the folks who will dump upon you their entire life story? Wouldn't this make life easier?

Well, my prayers have apparently been answered!

Yesterday, an extremely obnoxious, completely awkward and socially inept preteen I cannot stand walked up to the desk wearing a shirt with this on it.

FINALLY! The ultimate in truth in advertising!

Marina said, "The sad thing is you know they got that as a joke, thinking they're not unsocialized like people think, but they are so totally unsocialized, they don't even realize how funny and real that shirt is."

True too.

Much truth.

It's a nice change of pace.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Not In My Wildest Dreams

Did I ever think I'd hand feed a giraffe. I would've laughed and thought you silly if you'd have suggested I would drive to Wisconsin one day and get slobbered by a giraffe.

This is Bo. He's a 6-year-old Masai giraffe. Bo is 18 feet tall, and not done growing yet. His buddy, Max, is also a Masai giraffe and he's 5. Because he's a year younger, Max stands at only about 16 feet tall. He's a shrimp by comparison to Bo. Bo is quite charming and friendly, and we befriended one another quickly this afternoon at the Racine Zoo.

Together, Bo and Max have stripped all the branches of their leaves and bark within reach of those long, purple, giraffe tongues.

This is the way-cool zoo-lady who showed us how to feed the giraffes. Note that her head is the size of his mouth, yet she turns her back to him and smiles. Animals this big who aren't predators are awesome. It's like playing with a brontosaurus.

Bo really likes the crackers, you can tell.

Their tongues can extend 18 inches out of their mouths, and that's long enough to compensate for the short arms of a small human with a cookie.

It was really funny to me how aggressive Bo was in trying to get cookies, and EVERY SINGLE PERSON tried to be fair and give one to Bo and one to Max. They would NOT let Bo get more.

When everyone ran out of cookies, they kind of stood there and looked at us funny, as if to ask why we stopped.

Without food, others got bored and wandered off. Not me! I stayed and enjoyed the rare view of a giraffe from below. Well, that's not really rare, since most things are shorter than giraffes, but to be standing right below the head of a giraffe is rare, and the view was incredible.

I suppose many things in Africa see giraffes from this angle. Including people. Before they get trampled.

I asked the zoo-lady a question. When they're tall enough to just step over all the predators, what are giraffes afraid of? She said nothing. Only baby giraffes are really in danger of lion attacks, but the adults are pretty fearless.

Look at that face! It was coming at me from almost two stories up! I coulda kissed it!

When I have my own zoo, I think I'll have bunches of giraffes.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to finally wash my hands. Giraffe slobber, you know.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Amazing

I must be getting old, because people seem different to me. There is an abundance of amazing women in this world, and I didn’t recognize this phenomenon until very recently, so perhaps they have changed, or I have changed, or I just didn’t realize this until I was old enough to appreciate them. If the latter is the case, then getting old isn’t so bad after all.

My library has many amazing women. Perhaps because I work with them everyday and have had disagreements or merely neglected to pay them notice could have soured my ability to see their amazingness, but there are a few who I feel privileged to know. Certainly, they aren’t all amazing. In fact, some are downright vile, but the sheer number of amazing women at my library is enough for me to have more faith in womankind.

If I were to list the amazing features of Marina, this post would take forever, so just trust me when I say she is it. Christi, too, has amazing qualities that not only keep me laughing, but that keep me fighting for happiness, for only she gets me when we talk about humble beginnings and having to wage war against the obstacles in our lives that strive to keep us down. Around her, I’m not afraid to be weak, yet she keeps me feeling strong and undefeatable, no matter what I’m up against, because that’s her nature and I think that’s amazing.

All the women in my department are amazing in different ways, whether it’s because of their insight and honesty or their upbeat attitude and humor, and I’m lucky to work with each of them. I can’t imagine being in a different department and losing that coworker camaraderie with such a diverse group of chicks who make me want to be a better person.

The most disliked department in our building houses many truly amazing women, perhaps because they’re mired in the negativity that is Circulation, but they rise above it. Other departments are also blessed with women who sincerely leave a positive mark on this world; not just at work, too. They’re quirky and funny, kind and generous, and they each have something unique and exciting to offer the people in their lives.

I was at the gym the other day, and one of my coaches asked me why I chose that gym to join, not just because it’s an all-women establishment, but because I chose one outside my home town. My answer kept her nodding as I spoke, because she understood every word I said.

“I walked in these doors the very first time and there were women of all ages and all levels of fitness, from an older woman walking with a cane to a woman in her 20s with the body of an athlete. For a gym, that’s unusual to see it populated with REAL women. Normally you walk into a gym and it’s all fake. It’s plastic surgeries and boob jobs, body-building and muscle enhancements, legal and illegal, and everyone is so into themselves that they don’t even make eye contact with other people if they’re not sizing you up and judging you. HERE I don’t feel judged. HERE, even if I have never met these women before, there are smiles and welcomes and encouragement. HERE I don’t feel ashamed and I don’t feel bad. One of the coaches I hadn’t seen in a few weeks asked me how I was doing one day, and I gleefully told her I’ve lost 22 pounds and gained an incalculable amount of strength and energy, and before I knew it, the other women in the gym were cheering for me. WHERE ELSE am I going to get that kind of encouragement? My own boyfriend doesn’t cheer me on like that. My family doesn’t get it. My friends are happy for me, and they do support me, but I don’t think they know how hard I’m working for this. Only the women here get me, because I get them, and we all are trying to reach the same goals of feeling good, looking good, and being healthy. This place chose me as much as I chose it.”

The coach I was talking to said, “Isn’t it nice how whenever anyone walks in the door, the whole place erupts in greetings and welcomes that person?”

I said, “Yeah, it’s like our own version of Cheers, only minus the alcohol and barstools.”

We laughed, but it’s true.

Recently I’d written a post about wanting to feel like I was part of a club, a community that acknowledges one another even if they’re strangers, like the bikers on the road. I have that. I have that at my gym, where perfect strangers become my heroes and make me feel better simply by being nice and supportive for no reason other than to help one another. THAT’S amazing. And it’s nice to be at an age where women can be supportive without that competitive streak. I have waited so long to get here!

At work I co-run a crafting program, which brings together a mix of strange bedfellows, and more so this month than ever before, I sat next to these women and felt this strange sense of community with them, too. Under other circumstances I might not have ever paid them a bit of attention, wouldn’t have cared about their struggles and accomplishments in the least. They were merely patrons to me. Sure they all have their own story, but I can’t make room in my life for all of them, even just to hear their stories, so they all get the same treatment from me, which is to say I treat them well, but don’t get involved. But sitting together for 90-minutes while working on our crafting projects and chatting the time away, I realized that I have connected with these women and have come to care about them.

One had a recent serious health problem that caused her to have to give up smoking, and though I’m quite against smoking, I have found that I care about her so much that I am willing to listen to her tell us about all the ways she loves and misses cigarettes, and how hard it is each day to not smoke. And I want to help her in any way I can. Another woman’s husband lost his job last month, and she has teenagers who can’t find work, so their family is in the worst financial position they’ve ever been in. And I want to help her, too. Another has a husband who is running for office and is a Republican, which would normally push me away instantly, but I actually care so much about this woman that I want to help her and her husband. Political differences aside, they are good people, and that is moving to me. The last lady is older, retired, and she has the most amazing stories from her life. I could listen to her talk for hours. And maybe that’s all I can give them right now. Maybe I want to help, but having this program that allows them to get away, be surrounded by folks who care about them, be distracted with a project of their own choosing, and feel like I want to know them and hear their stories, maybe that’s what I have to give right now and maybe that’s enough. I can hope.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s an age I reached or if the world is different, because I am surrounded by people who do incredible things everyday. No other time in my life have I been more acutely aware of the sheer number of amazing women I know, perhaps because at no time in my life have I been so surrounded by women. There are no games, there is no competition for attention, and they are all so generous in spirit, with an effortless grace of ladies who have learned that niceness doesn’t cost you anything so why not spend it freely?

It could be the economy, the weather, the planetary alignment, or it could be that I have finally matured into a woman who sees other women as my community, my kind.

Of course that maturity is tempered with the 12-year-old sense of humor that keeps me laughing hysterically at staff meetings because someone said “I don’t know how big her package is,” embarrassing myself in public, as always, and clinging to that inner dork that is me.

So I guess I’ve come to a point where I’m comfortable with my flaws, proud of my accomplishments, and open to change, and this combination has probably opened my own eyes to the amazingness that has likely always been there, but I’m finally at a place where I can cherish it.

And I do.

Some women are absolutely amazing.

And I want to be more like them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Silent G

Patron: Can you help me? I’m looking for information on how to build a trench.

Me: A what? A trench?

Patron: Yeah.

Me: I don’t know if we’ll have books on trenches, but we might have some information in landscaping books. Let me see what I can find.

I type into the search “dig” and “trench” and hit Search.

She leaned over the desk to see what my results were.

Patron: OOOH, you searched by “dig” and I searched “build”, that’s probably why I couldn’t find anything.

Me: You’re talking about a trench you dig, right?

Patron: Yeah, I didn’t realize I needed to include “dig.”

Me: Well, I don’t know if we do, but I don’t want to get books that discuss trench warfare or other things. I want to know how to make one, and that involves digging, right?

Patron: Yeah.

Me: Okay, well, nothing is coming up with my search, so this is going to take some more work. We’ll have to look at the landscape books and find trenches in them.

Patron: Wait, how did you spell trench?

Me: Uh, T-R-E-N-C-H.

Patron: There’s no G in trench?

Me: Uh, nope. Not that I’ve ever seen.

Patron: Oooooooooh, I was spelling it wrong! I spelled it with a G, like length.

Me: Ah, well, our software isn’t user friendly enough to suggest spelling—

Patron: Never mind. I can find it on my own now.

Me: Are you sure?

Patron: Yes. Thanks.

It appears no libraries have anything on “building a trengch”. Surprise.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Today I got to work and realized I hadn’t set anything out for dinner because my brother was still asleep when I left. So, I called him from work.

Me: Hey, I forgot to set out food for dinner tonight. We can have chicken again, or I have some tortilla tilapia in the freezer.

Bro: Chicken’s fine with me if we want to grill it like usual. Or the fish. When will you be home?

Me: Um, around 7-ish.

Bro: Okay, I’ll make the fish and have it ready when you get home. How’s that?

Me: Uh, okay.

Bro: Should I make potatoes and vegetables too? I could grill potatoes and broccoli in [aluminum foil] pockets and bake the fish. Is that good?

Me: Yeah, that would be great. Thanks.

Bro: K. See ya later.

I hung up the phone and proclaimed my brother awesome, saying I didn’t need a husband with MY brother.

Marina asked where she could get a brother like mine. Heh. Nowhere. It comes from a unique combination of fucked-up parents, shared nightmares, almost identical DNA, and a bad job market. Together that makes a brother who is grateful to have me around and wants to help me, and the feeling is mutual.

* * *

Arms has finally come around and is talking to us again. I feel awful for the whole mess and realized how sensitive he is, which made me question myself and how much I make fun of him.

I really have to try to pick on him less. I don’t INTEND to be mean. It’s really just teasing jokes, but maybe he’s not laughing on the inside.

Like the time when he was complaining that he didn’t get invited to the Sox game for library employees and my coworker told him security doesn’t count. She was joking too. But the way she over-enunciated SUH-CURE-ITY caused me to hear something in my head, something I thought was hilarious, and I said, “Arms, you put the SUCK in SUCK-YUR-ITY.” That wasn’t nice, I know, but I figured he knew I was joking because I was almost in tears I was laughing so hard. Wait. Maybe that was mean, too. Dammit.

So, anyway, something came up at work and one of our nutty patrons called the police on Arms because he was walking around the library, watching her and her adult daughter. She knew he was security, but she felt he was stalking her daughter. Her large, retarded daughter. No, I’m not trying to insult her. The daughter is severely mentally handicapped, and her mom has her faculties about her, but just sees the world through the eyes of an imagined and consummate victim. Poor Arms had to explain to the police that no, he didn’t have a crush on the large, retarded girl, and he wasn’t stalking her. They are problem patrons and he was keeping his eye on them because they wreak havoc wherever they go. He was doing his job.

He said to me later, “Man, EVERYONE around here hates me!”

I was horrified. I told him it was not true, that only one person hated him and she was fucking nuts, so that was probably a compliment. But it really made me think that his feelings have been quite hurt.

How can a big, hulking guy who walks around talking about “giving people the bizz-ness” be such a softie? Damn these men. I never know what to do with them. No one is what they appear to be.

* * *

Then there’s Sergeant, who I adore. Seriously, I have said and meant that I’d like to take him home with me and keep him as a pet. Not in a romantic way, but to keep company with my wombats and giraffes and whales and mini-piggies – you know, the cute things I like to pet and play with everyday. Not that I have wombats or giraffes or whales or mini-piggies, but when my zoo is built, I will. And I want Sergeant to be one of my pets.

Today I was asking Arms how the melatonin was working, which I recommended to him for falling asleep, and Sergeant asked where he could get some.

Me: You sleep like a rock. You don’t need it.

And he does. He’s told me so. Except when he had a lottery ticket in his pants pocket, which he hadn’t remembered until he was already undressed and in bed, half asleep. The obsessive need to scratch it and know if he won something drove him toss and turn, trying to fall asleep, and finally he had to get out of bed and creep across the room, then scratch his ticket as quietly as possible by the light of his cell phone, so as not to wake up his girlfriend or their baby. He won $30, so I guess that helped him sleep better that night.

Sergeant: Yeah I do. I need it to give to my baby.

Me: Ooooh, that’s bad!

And he did something so funny, it still makes me laugh. He actually slapped his knee. He made himself laugh so hard, he slapped his own knee. And he was standing up, too.

Who DOES that? Does anyone under the age of 80 do that? He’s so hilarious. See why I want him in my zoo? The big smile and cute Guatemalan accent only make him more endearing, but do you see why I’d like to go out to his enclosure everyday and see what new, amusing thing he’s going to say or do?

Can I make people my pets? Even if I’m really nice to them?

* * *

If ONE MORE PERSON, sitting at the opposite end of the building from me, encounters some kind of computer problem and, instead of walking over to my desk to tell me, starts shouting, “EXCUSE ME! EXCUUUUUSE ME!” I don’t even know what I’m going to do. We have multiple staplers at the reference desk. Don’t make me use them.

* * *

Because of the allergy-fighting properties of English ivy, I recently went out and bought six plants to distribute around. Two plants went into a pot, and a pot went to my room, one to my desk at work, and one I gave to my brother, whose allergies are worse than anyone I know.

He named it Henry. He takes very good care of it.

Bro: Henry has these two long branches like arms, and wherever I put him, he reaches for my computer.

Me: Maybe he wants to check his email, update his MySpace page.

Bro: Henry’s got game. He’s a playa. He’s gotta check on his bitches ‘n’ hos.

Of course my brother got the gangsta ivy. Of course. Soon that plant is going to be all pimped out, big grill on the front of the pot, bass pounding the walls as he chills with his homeboys. But he doesn’t have homeboys. Can you be a gangsta in a gang of one? I guess you can do anything when you’re a badass plant.

I think Henry needs a badass plant name, because Henry just isn’t it.

* * *

We had an all-day, all-staff meeting on Friday, which we just barely survived, and while we were all meeting, the maintenance guys did some major work to the building, like putting some kind of sealer on all the tiles and grout in the lobby and washrooms. Now, I worked in flooring for a while, my dad opened a flooring company, and my brother is a flooring installer, so flooring is in my family, but I’ve never heard of this sealant that you paint onto tiles. Grout, yes; tiles, no. The lobby now shines like it’s covered in an inch of ice, and people are tentatively walking on it as if afraid they’ll slip and fall. A few of us have reached down and touched it, because surely it must be either slippery or tacky. Nothing shines like that and isn’t palpable. Yet, it feels like polyurethane, which is freaky to me. Tile doesn’t look like it’s been shellacked. It’s quite odd and it’s difficult to get used to it.

Marina and I were discussing it today and she said it would be fun to go out there and pretend to slip, then watch people walking carefully and slowly, deliberately, trying not to slip and fall.

I like people who are twisted and warped like me.

Marina is also the person who I nearly peed my pants laughing at when we discussed the hilarity of watching people crash, face-first into the glass doors thinking they’re automatically going to open. Her suggestion was that we develop a scoring system like the Olympics and hold up signs reading 9.5 or 6, or whatever we scored their face crash.

I don’t know what I’d do without her. Probably laugh less.

Last Monday she was having a very bad morning and was unusually fed up with the abundance of Numlocks she was dealing with, so I tried in vain to calm her down, point out how important she was for instructing people in this fashion, and paint a picture of hope for these people that she might not have been able to see. She was simply not receptive to accepting some of the idiot things they were doing, so I shifted gears and asked how we should kill and maim the worst offenders.

That cheered her up. The mouse became a morning star, and we tried to determine how many whacks upon a hard head our keyboards would survive. (One. They’re cheap and these are really hard heads.)

We love our jobs, and we love helping people, but in order to put up with the frustration and repetition, we have to enjoy their suffering just a little bit too.

Okay, maybe we enjoy it a lot. But it keeps us from actually stapling someone to a wall and waling on them with an optic mouse or heaving Chilton manuals at their guts.

Well, so far it has.

Green Tip of the Week


Take shorter, cooler showers to prevent steam damage as well as mold and mildew growth.

Cut off the hem at the bottom of your shower curtain to prevent mildew buildup.

Choose natural fabric (cotton or bamboo) for your next shower curtain and liner. Know the smell when you open a new vinyl curtain? That's off-gassing of PVC, which contains a chemical that causes cancer. The EPA found that vinyl shower curtains can elevate toxins in your home for over a month.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Someone Please Flush My Brain

The phone rang. I have come to dread the phone ringing. I dread it more now.

Patron: I just got back from the doctor and I was wondering if you can look up the diagnosis I got for me.

Me: Sure. What is it?

Patron: Volo Van Ginis.

Me: Um, can you spell that for me?

Patron: Yeah, let me read it to you. It’s V-O-L-O. Then V-A-N, like the car. Then G-I-N-I-S, you know, like vagina. I don’t know how to spell vagina. Maybe you know.

Maybe the roof will cave in. Maybe Arms will have another drill for us. Maybe Canada will declare war on us and suddenly blow my town off the map.

These are things I was hoping for as I looked up “volo van ginis”, spelled like vagina.

It wasn’t hard for me to figure out she meant vulvovaginitis. Someone else might not have been so quick to catch the link there and imagine the squirming to find it.

I didn’t correct her. I simply searched for the right word and asked what information she needed about the disease.

Patron: Everything you can give me.

Me: Okay, well, there are a few trustworthy websites with lots of information, so I can print this out for you and keep it at the reference desk if you’d like to come pick it up?

Patron: No, I have arthritis all over my body and can’t walk. I don’t get into the library ever.

Me: Okay, do you have an email account?

Patron: No, honey, I don’t have a computer.

Me: Oh. Well, I suppose I could mail this to—

Patron: No, I need the information right now. Can’t you read it to me?

Read you information about your infected vagina? Sure. Perhaps the 10 people sitting near me will enjoy this because I sure won’t.

Me: Ummmmmm, what did you want to know?

Patron: Well! I want to know what the doctor wouldn’t tell me, because you know they gave me this cream and it’s just making things worse. I have all this swelling and pain. And a discharge, and—

Me: Ma’am! What did you want me to read to you?

Patron: and an odor, which is really bad! And the doctor said that I needed to use this cream, which is just making me burn and itch, and the smell is getting worse! And I don’t trust doctors, because you know all they want is your money!

Me: Okay, what would you like me to read to you?

Patron: Anything. I don’t know anything about it except what my doctor said, about having to use this cream, which is making this awful smell come out of me and—

Me: SO! SO! So, you want me to read to you about the treatments they recommend? Is that what you’d like?

Patron: Yes, of course! I don’t want to have this swollen, painful, smelly vagina forever!

At this point I cringed and slapped my forehead and my coworker was looking at me with that look that asked if I was on the phone with Crazy Karen or Betty, and I shook my head and pointed at the computer screen, so she could see what this woman was making me read about.

I’m not sure if she saw the name of the condition, but the site I had up had a big, huge vagina looking back at us, and she turned and ran fast and far away from the reference desk.

That’s what I love most about working at this library: the emotional support from my coworkers.

Me: Okay, what it says is that there are a number of possible causes for this…condition.

No point in telling everyone in the building, right?

Me: And depending on what’s causing it, bacteria, fungus, whatever, is what determines how they treat you.

Patron: Well how am I supposed to know what’s making my vagina do this? That’s what they were supposed to figure out!

Me: You really need to talk to your doctor then.

Patron: No, they don’t want to help me. They’re not going to give me more information.

Me: Then maybe you should see another doctor.

Patron: I can’t! I don’t have any money! I go to that clinic, you know? The one where all the Mexicans mostly go.

Oh no she didn’t.

Patron: So I have to sit there in that room, with all the Mexicans, waiting to see a doctor who doesn’t care about making me better and just wants to take my money, and there’s no one else I can see. I don’t have a choice.

Me: Okay, okay, let’s do this again. THEY need to determine what the cause is so they can treat it, and maybe they did, but you didn’t realize it. I mean, it could be hormonal. It says here that it could be low estrogen, or it could be a—

Patron: It’s hormonal?


Patron: OH, well, then yeah, I’ll just take the estrogen pills they gave me, then. Okay. I should be okay then.

Me: They gave you hormone pills to treat it too?

Patron: Yeah, but I didn’t think it was connected so I wasn’t going to take them. You know how they are. They just want you on lots of drugs and to take your money.

Me: Okay, then was there anything else you needed to know?

Patron: No, I think we’re good. I’ll take the estrogen pills and my vagina will go back to smelling like normal again. This is great! That’s all I want. I want my vagina to stop hurting and stop oozing, and you’re saying the hormones will do that?

Me: Uh, well, it’s a possible treatment. I hope it works.

Patron: You have no idea what it’s like to have this gunk coming out of you! It smells so bad that—

Me: Ma’am! Is there anything else I can answer for you?

Patron: It smells like a fish died in there!

Me: Is that all, ma’am? I really have to go.

Patron: Honey, I hope you never get this!

Me: Thanks, me too.

Patron: You’ve been so much help and so nice. I don’t know who else I could call and tell all these things to.

I’m betting anyone. I’m betting she’s the type of person who would tell anyone.

Me: Well, thanks, that’s what I’m here for.

To have you paint me a big mental image of your swollen, oozing, putrid vagina. Yep. That’s my job.

Patron: Well, you have a good night, sweetie.

Me: Thanks, you too. Good luck.

Patron: Oh, you’re so sweet! Thanks again.

Yes, yes, quite sweet. Or I was. Before the infected vagina monster started stalking me in my daymares.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Crazy Tuesdays

Man: Do you have those guys who...they do that thing...when you write letters?

Already I was perplexed.

Me: Um, what kind of letters?

Man: Letters. That you write. With lists of stuff you do on them.

Me: Resumes?

Man: YES. Do you have the guys who put their name on those?

Cue small stroke in left temporal lobe.

Me: I'm baffled. I'm not sure what you mean.

I looked at Marina and she shook her head and turned her back quickly, wanting nothing to do with this translation from nothingness to English.

Man: They do this! *slams fist down on the desk*

Me: Hammer? Gavel? Stamp?

Man: YES. Stamp. They stamp them.

Me: A postage stamp? Like the post office?

Man: No, with their name.

Me: Like, to notarize something?

Man: YES. Do you have any of those guys here?

Holy crap, that was the scenic route to a question, though not very scenic.

* * *

When Circulation transfers a voicemail message mistakenly left by patrons on the Circ phones, which should have gone elsewhere, the message is merely copied to our voicemail with only a blinking light to indicate that it has occurred, and if you haven't heard the phone ring or walked away from the desk in an hour, it's startling to see that there is voicemail to be retrieved. I do not like that. It sneaks up on me.

So, when I noticed the blinking light of messagry, I quickly retrieved it, slightly frazzled.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the caller was lacking in voicemail skills, which I too did not know was a skill until today.

The message was simply a sexually ambiguous voice, sternly yelling out their phone number, then hanging up. No name. No information.

I called back and found the still sexually ambiguous voice to be only slightly more comprehensible live.

S/he wanted to know if we had US Constitution study guides, to which I said that we did. S/he then wanted to know how many we had of different kinds. I informed the patron that there is pretty much a standard issue study guide that is used most everywhere. S/he wanted to know what exactly in that study guide a person had to know to pass their citizenship exam. I said it would be wise to know everything inside, but I had no idea what would be covered on the exam. S/he then demanded that I gather no fewer than three different study guides for to use. I explained that we had one, which is the standard, and has been used for as long as I can remember by both students and citizenship seekers. S/he demanded to know why we didn't carry others.


The patron said, "Oh." Then s/he hung up on me.

* * *

A few minutes later, the light was blinking again. What is up with this?

I punched in my code and hit Play for the new voicemail. This is what I heard from a new sexually ambiguous voice.

This is [mumble, mumble]. I was just there and got a library card. I was wondering if you have [mumble, mumble]. *pause* Okay? *pause* Should I wait? *pause* I'm waiting -- is that okay? *pause* Should I keep waiting? *pause* What should I do? *long pause*

Then s/he hung up.

Absolutely had to be related to the previous caller. I'd bet my life. Lack of voicemail skills that severe has to be genetic.

If three patrons hadn't walked up to the desk as I hung up the phone, quickly deleting that voicemail, I would've run over to Circ and spanked someone hard on the ass for sending me those two messages in a row. You just know they had to have listened to both messages and laughed hysterically, then forwarded them to me for the sheer pleasure of torturing me.

Clerks are evil.

* * *

When my desk shift was over, I went to the office to grab my pasta for lunch. As I was pulling the bowl and fork from my bag, I fumbled the bowl. While trying to keep the pasta from crashing to the ground, I pushed my hands together to catch everything in my arms, thusly positioning the fork against one arm, stabbing it deeply into the other.

I got tined.

Unbelievable. Now I have a four-pronged puncture wound and dragging scratch across my wrist. I’ll just have to tell people a cat did it. How can I possibly admit that I forked myself hard and drew blood?

* * *

Later, I was telling Christi about the weird voicemail messages and she said, “We should have a special extension to transfer the crazy people to. It would just play hold music forever. And not the nice hold music, but really creepy music. And once in a while we’d pick up the phone and say something totally bizarre. ‘Horseshoe bandages.’ Then more creepy hold music. ‘Go get an orange.’ Then more hold music.”

It was brilliant. It was the single most brilliant thing I’ve heard in a long, long time. But like usual, we spiraled out of control after that.

Me: Well, if they’re crazy like Crazy Karen, that would probably make total sense to her. She’d love it. She’d call all day long and talk to the crazy hold music and randomly worded messages.

Christi: OOOH! We should have a way to make a party line, so that when Crazy Karen and Betty [the soul-sucking whiner] call, we could transfer them both to the line, and there would be nothing but silence until one of them talked. ‘Um, I’m looking for information on storms that hit the US during the summer of 2002,’ Betty would say. Crazy Karen would say, ‘Well, I’m looking for information on the Northern Hemisphere. Did you know we are in the Northern Hemisphere?’ And then they would talk their crazy talk to each other!

Me: The two of them? Talking to one another? The universe might implode! Can you imagine the ramifications if that much crazy was put together? Gravity would spontaneously stop working and we’d all just fly off into space.

We both started waving our arms and pretending to be weightless, flying around the office, each taking turns calmly noting that Crazy Karen and Betty must have found one another again.

Sometimes you have to battle crazy with crazy.

* * *

Late tonight, before I left, a patron walked up to me and handed me a cell phone she’d found sitting next to an empty computer. I thanked her and brought it to Circ, where our lost and found calls home.

The phone started to make noise and I panicked.

I don’t have a cell phone. I don’t use cell phones. I don’t know the first thing about cell phones. I teach computer classes for advanced computer users because I don’t have the patience to help those who have no idea how to use a mouse. I customized our library’s website. I do advanced editing in PhotoShop and make animated gifs for fun. But this noisy cell phone was technology I knew not of.

I held it out to the lady at Circ like it was alive.

Me: Someone left this behind. I have no idea how to make it stop doing this. It has all these button-thingies and I don’t know what to do with it.

Clerk: Well, I don’t either. I don’t know anything about cell phones.

Me: It’s all shiny and new-looking and there look like secret buttons over here. I can’t…I don’t know…MAKE IT STOP!

Clerk: Someone should answer it.

Me: Not me! I’d probably hit a button and it would take a picture of me making this face at it. *made a look of terror*

Clerk: Let’s just put it in the lost and found. Maybe someone who sits near the lost and found knows how to stop the noise and they’ll do it.

Me: We’re hopeless. This cell phone stuff is just too complicated.

Clerk: I know!

And so I am cast into the realm of idiots who are afraid of technology, which makes little sense given what I do, but there are some things I just don’t want to learn about.

Which puts me on par with many of our patrons who have no want of computers, but a need of computers.

Maybe I’ll go in next Tuesday (the Day for Crazies) and ask a patron how to work a cell phone. See how they like it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Today I went to work early, about two hours before the library opened, because I had some extra time I had to put in this week, between the ear infection and vertigo, and the house flood situation, which is amazingly still ongoing.

As I pulled into the lot, I noticed a woman standing around the front door, pacing kind of unsteadily. She saw me pull in, and without knowing if I was on staff or just meeting someone for a romantic parking lot rendezvous, she stood in the middle of the pavement, gawking at me, starting to walk to my car and then stopping herself, starting and stopping numerous times.

Oh great, I thought. She wants in. So, I took my sweet time closing my car windows, changing all my radio stations, flipping through the books I was returning, and still she stood there, still unsteady, still starting to walk toward me and then changing her mind.

Gotta face the music.

I got out of the car and she immediately called to me.

She was probably 40 feet away, and though I couldn't see her eyes or smell her breath, she slurred her words and was noticeably drunk.

Before 10 a.m. on a Sunday? Good job! Nothing like waking up early on a weekend and getting straight to the meat of your goals for the day!

She asked in elongated speech, "Do you woooooork heeeeeere?"

I said yes, and she continued slurring, "Can you let me in for just a minnnnnnnute? I have to peeeeeeeeeee."

Oh great. That's what I need: let the drunk lady in to pee and she passes out in the bathroom or she goes berserk on me because she thinks I'm someone else. Or she throws up. And knowing my luck, the cleaning guys have already been in to clean and the vomit will be my responsibility.

"No, ma'am, I'm sorry. It's against the law--"

My laws. They rule all.

"--to let anyone into the building other than during the library's hours of operation."

I prepared my explanation to be expanded if she didn't accept this and tried to push for an exception to the rule, but she didn't. She said okay, and walked away.

I yelled a suggestion that she try the park district next door, and just the motor skills it took her to stop walking and turn around to look at me again almost caused her to fall. I don't know if it was the chemically-induced state she was in or the fact that her thighs seemed to be glued together to keep the pee from streaming down, but she was not walking well.

She thanked me and then I realized what I'd just done. I'd just recommended a drunk woman get into her car and drive somewhere else. Lovely. Now what? Call the police on her?

It turns out that as memorable as she was, I forgot completely about her as I stepped into the back door of the building because I couldn't remember how to deactivate the security alarm. I figured it out before things got hairy, but the stress of that made me forget that I'd set a drunk woman out on a driving expedition to find another bathroom.


But now that I remember, I'm wondering how long she was standing at the front door before I drove up. Was she going to wait 2 hours for the library to open or for the first staff member to arrive? And another thing: there's a forest that abuts the library. Pee in the goddamn woods, lady! I'm not taking you inside the building when the library's closed, I'm all alone and you're intoxicated.

The day of rest is usually an interesting one.

Green Tip of the Week

Burn 100% soy candles.

Soy candles emit very little, if any smoke, and they do not contain the lead wicks that are toxic to breathe.

Plus, they burn 4 - 5 times longer than regular wax candles, with a gentle, not overpowering, scent.