Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All We Need is Arms

All afternoon, Marina and I worked in the office and laughed at a group of Anime geeks standing outside the library. Two were simply emo-looking spazes, while the third was running up and down the street naked, waving his freak flag high. Well, figuratively speaking he was. Standing there on the sidewalk was this tall young man with a slight build, wearing a brown leather hat, carrying what looked like a cane, and donning the most ridiculous black trenchcoat, with pretend metal in rectangular strips adhered to the shoulder area. I’m sure it was his favorite character’s get-up, and this was some kind of costume display, but it was like watching a nature program on the Discovery Channel that exposes some kind of ridiculous and humiliating mating ritual of a lesser life form. This poor chap had no one to woo, though, so it was all the more pathetic.

We had many laughs at his expense as he stood by the street and posed for at least an hour. No matter how nerdy people from Libraria can be, we still have at least one group of social misfits we can look down on, and he was steeped in it.

After a while, they finally disappeared, though we would not find out why until later.

Marina and I both worked the reference desk tonight, and the freaks were out en masse. We dealt with them as best we could until we met one we simply hadn’t the emotional tools with which to deal.

He was not charming. He was not funny. He was not cute.

He was a douche.

So many of them are.

He asked if Marina or I could help him log into his Sprint account online, get photos he’s taken with his cell phone, put them on the computer and then help him upload them to an email he could send to himself. I shrugged and said I could try, but I made no promises that I’d know how to do all that. After battling with the website, which would only download the photo as a zip file, and the right-click feature is disabled on all the mice so I couldn’t unzip the folder, I finally had to tell him to move over and I proceeded to open the file, open the picture, save it separately, and then attach it to his email for him. It was tedious, and the entire time he was talking nonstop about how he didn’t know anything about computers and I’d probably have to keep doing this for him.

Lovely. So looking forward to this.

After I’d spent what I considered a sufficient amount of time trying to show him how to download, save, and attach the photos, he asked me if I could now show him how to send these photos back to his cell phone.

Are you kidding me?

I asked Marina to call out our resident gadget expert to help him because I was simply tired of him and his mouth. Then he pissed me off for the first time.

Dude: I have more pictures, though. I need you to help me. But they’re X-rated.

And he smiled at me.

I did not smile back.

I was not offended, but I figured they were naked pictures he took of himself, and the last person on earth right then whose wang I wanted to see was his, so I informed him that I had a guy coming out to help him.

Dude: Oooh, I see. I catch ya.

Do you? Do you really think you do, you booger-eating moron? Because if you saw, if you caught me, you’d see that I pretty much wish you’d start to strangle yourself with your own hands right now, and I sincerely doubt that’s what you see or catch coming from me, because you, my dear, are not so bright.

I walked away to help someone else, and this ass glommed onto Marina instead, giving her the same line about needing her help and having X-rated pictures to work with. She helped him with a G-rated picture and then our male coworker came out to assist him.

It didn’t take long. Dude didn’t have many questions, it seemed, once there was a big Hispanic guy with a beard helping him out. Go figure.

However, once our coworker wandered away, he was back at Marina’s side, asking her an assload of questions, and seeming to make up his questions on the spot. He tried to ask her personal questions about school or cooking, based on the website she was on and the book she was reading, but she shut him down and didn’t give him any ammo to engage in further questions. Seeing that he was getting nowhere with her, he wandered back to me, and by then I’d had enough of him and was giving him short, snide answers. In desperation, he started digging behind my monitor, where he found an old origami crane someone made, and two AAA batteries.

Dude: Yo, can I snag these?

Me: Uh, no.

Dude: Why? Why they here?

Me: Because we need them. [lie] Because they’re right in my line of vision when I need to replace the batteries in our doorbell. [lie] No, you can’t have them.

Dude: Whatchu need a doorbell for?

Me: Because we do.

Dude: So, I can’t have these?

Me: No. Put them back.

He pretended to put the one down that he’d grabbed, setting it behind the pencil sharpener, and I suspected he hadn’t actually put it back, but I was more concerned with getting rid of him than interrogating him. If it cost us a battery (whose remaining life was questionable) to get rid of the guy, then so be it. Indeed, I looked later, and he hadn’t put the battery back. Suave.

Dude then went back to Marina to ask her a barrage of questions about movies he couldn’t remember titles for, leaning way across the desk to see what she was typing on her monitor. I flagged down our ex-employee of the Japanese Batman fame and tried to engage him in conversation.

Me: So, Jeff, how’s it going? *mouthing “HELP!* *indicating Dude behind me with my eyes* How’s your other job?

Jeff: It sucks. *nodding knowingly* I was actually going to ask Arms a question about security. Is he around here?

Me: I think if you ask at Circ, they can find him. Thanks!

Jeff ran, seriously RAN, to Circ and within moments there was an overhead page for Arms and about another moment later, Arms came rushing through the doors for us, as fast as his broken leg and crutches could propel him.

(Yes, Arms broke his leg, and yes, he’s still pretending like he can be our security guard in his condition. Surprisingly, he pretty much can.)

While the Dude was glued to Marina and her monitor, I motioned for Arms to slow down, things were okay, and then I walked over to meet with him just to ask him to hang out with us, because this guy was not leaving, clearly had fixated on us, and Marina wasn’t able to shake him.

Arms hung out for a while, menacingly standing behind Marina and watching every move between the two of them. When the idiot didn’t get the hint, Arms interrupted and told her he’d come out to relieve her, because she was needed elsewhere. Marina bolted. I think I smelled the smoke of her burning her leather heels peeling out.

Strangely, Dude ran out of questions when Arms was there to help him. He said he had to get home and then left.

So, I won’t be making fun of Arms for a while now. I’m too grateful. Nothing like a 5’7” guy with arms bigger than the thighs of your average man to intimidate the hell out of douchebags who won’t leave the poor librarians alone. He’s so perfect for this job.

Once Marina came back out and the coast was clear, we talked for a bit about Arms’ adventures in Libraryland today.

It turns out the Anime geeks were chased off by Arms when he arrived.

Arms: I caught one of the guys horsing around with a shovel he found that the pavers were using. Uh-uh! Put that down! Get the hell out of here! And you, pick up your armor and go home!

Shit, that was funny. There are some people who need a bully in their life to kick their ass occasionally, and the guy wearing the pretend armor on his trenchcoat was one.

Arms: Man, there is nothing I hate more than those geeks. I hated them in high school and I hate them now. I’m gonna give them the biz-ness every time! This guy thinks he’s a hobbit, with his stick that shoots REAL MAGIC? I’m going to KICK YOUR ASS!

I was in hysterics. GO GET ‘EM, ARMS!

Whew, it’s good to know that when Freakday rolls around again, someone is there to hobble on crutches and chase them off for us. Our hero.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy F'ing Birthday

I have a fear that the Olive Garden nearest to my house might have pictures up in the back of two women who look remarkably like my best friend and me, and we will either not be given tables in the future, or we will receive food that’s been spit in and peed on in the future. Who knows? Maybe there’s a network that all the Olive Gardens are attached to, and that’s the real reason why it takes an hour to get a table only after you give them your name – they run your mugshot (secretly snapped behind the board listing the specials) and name through a database to see if you’ve been unruly and obnoxious in the past, and then your buzzer simply never goes off. I will probably find out if I ever go back.

The frightening thing was, there was no alcohol involved and this was solely our charming personalities that created this situation.

Let me explain.

Wherever I go to eat with friends, no matter what time we arrive, we close the place out. I don’t do it often, but certain people bring out the talker in me, and when we get going, there’s no stopping us.

Such was the case tonight, only it seemed that every few minutes, we were startled and silenced while the wait staff assailed a table nearby with a boisterous and unintelligible song of birthday wishes, complete with clapping and flaming birthday cake. After the 20th time we were beyond irritation and instead were incredulous over the absurdity. How on earth could over 20 people have birthdays to celebrate at the Olive Garden at the same damn time? And why were we driven mad with interruptions so loud and intrusive that it was impossible to converse over the din of the ridiculous singing and clapping? I made a point of saying to her early on that if not out of respect for me, then out of respect for other diners, she should never inform a restaurant of my birthday in the future. She agreed whole-heartedly and the promise was reciprocated to her.

Our conversations were unusually hilarious, and we found ourselves laughing so hard we were sobbing into our stiff, green, linen napkins, but as soon as we’d recover and get into the next conversation, we’d have to pause to wait for the next birthday song to end. The hostility grew, but was tempered with our own good moods.

Her: Didn’t they already sing happy birthday to someone at that table?

Me: We’ve been here a while. Maybe it’s a new family.

Her: I don’t think so. I think there were two birthdays, and instead of singing to both at once, they separated them to create the greatest possible disturbance.

Me: It could be. Maybe it’s birthday night and we didn’t get the coupon. I hope they’re carding people, because this is a fuckload of birthdays for one night. I mean, what are the odds? There HAS to be a reason for all this.

Her: What if they’re just doing it to irritate us?

Me: You think it’s personal?

Her: Maybe we’ve been here so long they’re doing it on purpose to piss us off so we’ll leave.

Me: ‘Pssst, we know it’s not your birthday, but can you just pretend and let us sing to you. We’re trying to get rid of the ladies at that table over there who are laughing too loud and won’t leave.’

Her: ‘We’ll knock half off your bill.’

Me: ‘And you get the flaming birthday cake for free.’

Her: ‘In fact, we’ll sing to everyone at your table and you’ll all get free flaming cake.’

Me: ‘It’s the only way to get rid of these girls. Have you HEARD them? They’re laughing so hard that they’re crying over there. This is an ITALIAN restaurant. We have standards, you know?’

Her: ‘Yeah, we serve WINE, not CORONAS, so that kind of happiness isn’t allowed. Who do they think they are?’

Before we could finish laughing at the birthday conspiracy, the table behind us was victimized by the birthday assault team. Which just made us laugh harder.

Her: HEY, they were sung to like 15 minutes ago!

Me: ‘Okay, everyone, can I have your attention? Is there anyone left in the building who hasn’t been sung to? Other than the two girls over there, obviously. Anyone? Anyone? Okay, good. NOW IT’S TIME FOR REPEATS!’

Her: For my birthday, I’d like to request no one sing a word. Just bring the damn free flaming cake.

Me: Or they can sing in sign language.

I made various nonsensical hand gestures, and ended them with two middle fingers up.

Her: No, I ask for a moment of silence.

We both hung our heads and then burst into laughter all over again.

Me: It should be like on an airplane, where you get earphones if you want to hear the singing, but otherwise it shouldn’t disturb the other passengers.

Her: Don’t make me land this plane!

Me: They need a stage, where they can all just climb up on the stage and sing one birthday song every hour and point to the birthday people in the restaurant, then deliver the flaming cakes without a ruckus.

Her: Pointing, ‘Happy birthday to you, and you, and you,’ Elvis style.

Me: And only once an hour! So you knew you’d get 58 minutes of peace!

And then another birthday song erupted and we almost slid under the table we were laughing so hard.

Me: That’s it! We’ve hit critical mass! There are no more flaming cakes! The wait staff are all hoarse! The Olive Garden refuses to acknowledge another birthday tonight! We are banning birthdays completely!

We laughed for a minute, and then ANOTHER birthday song blared in our ears, at the table across from us.

We lost it. The sobbing was uncontrollable. We could not keep it together.

Her: They’re winning! Don’t let them win! We will not be silenced!

We were greeted with glares as fiery and spiteful as any I’d ever seen, launched from the evil eyes of the wait staff who were reduced to running from table to table, singing birthday songs, heckled by us.

Me: It’s a very good thing we have not only eaten our meal and dessert, but paid as well. They would probably dunk our food in the toilet and overcharge us for everything at this point. BUT IT’S TOO LATE! Now the only thing they can do is ignore our empty glasses, which they do anyway! HAHA!

Her: Yeah, and the food was good, too! SO THERE!

Me: Is it because we’re laughing so hard, or is it getting really hot in here?

Her: It is warm, and I’m always cold, so that must mean something.

Me: Maybe a night of baking 3,000 birthday cakes did it.

Her: Flaming cakes! Hundreds of them will probably raise the temperature, and we have been surrounded all night.

Me: No kidding! Not that I believe for a minute that they bake anything back there. It probably all rolls through a toaster oven or something, on an assembly line.

Her: Lean Cuisines. They just peel and microwave.

Me: And put it on the nice plates. Serve it all with linen napkins and freshly grated Parmesan. It’s brilliant! Probably flaming cakes from Easy Bake Ovens!

And then we died laughing all over again.

Me: Do you think we can get out of here before the next birthday song? I might go postal if I have to sit through one more.

Her: I don’t know. It’s a long way to the door, plus I have to pee.

Me: OH NO! They don’t sing in the bathroom too, do they?

We got up to leave before we were asked to leave, which was surely a fate we would suffer soon enough. Not a single staff member smiled at us as we left, nor did they wish us a nice evening or ask us to come back soon.

As we left the restaurant, we eyed remaining tables suspiciously, looking for folks who looked like they were about to receive free flaming cake, but we managed to get out of the front doors before the next song erupted.

We said our goodbyes and she gave me a reference assignment. The plan is to get together again next week for a repeat, only I have to find a restaurant where we will be allowed to sit for 6 hours and laugh, and there are no birthday intrusions.

People, I have no idea how to figure out where this miraculous restaurant might be, but if you know, please share. And then come with and cry into a napkin for the entire night with us.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I bought my dog a bag of rawhides, which he loves. Once he has one, he will spend an hour trying to hide it somewhere in the house, and he is so intense about burying it deep in some crack or crevice that he doesn’t even realize he’s scratched up his snout trying to get it there. Often the black on his nose rubs off and I tell him if he doesn’t calm down and bury more gently, I’m going to have to take a Sharpie and fill in the missing black on his nose. He looks up at me with those big brown eyes that I cannot resist and I end up kissing that missing black spot instead.

This time he somehow managed to scratch off a spot of black on the top of his nose in the shape of a heart.

So I obviously have to kiss it whenever I see him. And sometimes I tackle him on the couch, pin him down, and plant kisses all over his face. He doesn’t even resist me anymore. I swear I see his eyes rolling. He is SOO my dog.

* * *

While I’m uploading pics, I might as well bitch about the ridiculous tan I have on my feet from my Teva sandals. I did a lot of walking outdoors this summer and had them on everyday, so clearly I would develop a deep Teva tan. Now that summer is mostly over, save for a few humid days in the 70s as we approach my favorite season, my feet look totally absurd. Do they make makeup for your feet? I feel like I need some.

* * *

A boy almost as tall as me approached the desk today and said he needed a reservation to use a computer, so I walked him to the reservation station to show him how to go about this on his own, but his card was rejected.

Me: Are you under 14?

Boy (snottily): NO.

Me: How old are you?

Boy (stilly snotty): I’m 11!

9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 11. Yes. That’s how it goes.

* * *

There’s an old man who frequents the library, and we call him The Booktalker. He waves his hands wildly and talks in jibberish while reading books or passing other people, scaring patrons. However, he’s harmless.

Since my desk faces the window that looks out on the street, I saw him walking toward the library and announced to my coworker that The Booktalker was here. We could hear him shouting at no one from inside our office. As a school bus drove by, he turned and gave a heil Hitler sign multiple times, mumbled something in a foreign language, and continued toward the library. I wondered aloud what his background was. I’m sure it’s fascinating. I also wondered if he’s always been like this or was he once a functional man.

He stayed in the library all day and evening, and when Arms showed up to work, he asked if The Booktalker was behaving today. I said yes, though we’d already received a few complaints about him. He freaks people out, but he doesn’t do anything wrong.

Arms: You know, I had to have words with him one day and walk him out of the building to the end of the property and tell him to go home.

Me: You did? I didn’t know he even understood what we say.

Arms: Well, I don’t know that he understood what I said. I found him in the back yelling at the plant, and when I asked him if there was something I could do to help him, he started pointing at the plant, saying it was a little Russian boy and they were going to kill the boy and make him watch.

Me: *gasp*

Arms: Then he started talking in Russian and I walked him right out of the building.

Me: That man has probably seen things in his life that I don’t want to know about.

Arms: I’d really like to take him out and get him drinking. Don’t you think he’d be a riot drunk?

No. He seems drunk when he’s stone cold sober. Who knows what alcohol would do?

My coworker piped up and suggested that if he had a few drinks, he might suddenly become a refined gentleman, pontificating on politics and the like.

Laughs were had.

I still think this man has seen some disturbing things, and maybe his senility is a reprieve from his reality. Except, of course, when a plant reminds him of an atrocity he witnessed. Or when he gives a Nazi salute to a passing school bus.

Who IS this man and what is his story? It bothers me. What aspect of world history has he been a part of that I have only read about? I’ll probably never know.

* * *

To end on a positive note, this morning was a staff Department Head meeting, and we set up our beloved boss by telling the director to ask him what the handprint story was about.

Which he did. At the meeting. In front of all the other Department Heads.

And my boss would not tell the story. He insisted they did not want to know.

They were robbed.

It’s still one of my favorite stories. And it’s nice to know that he can tell us, but not his own peers. Which makes me wonder who his “peers” really are. And it makes me like him even more.

Which is a lot already.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meeting of the Minds

Librarians (meaning people from Libraria) are largely an intellectual bunch, often quite geeky, occasionally cool, and socially awkward a majority of the time. The public they serve: mostly the opposite. It’s an interesting dynamic that fuels many a librarian blog, and expedites many a librarian retirement. Being from Libraria, I resemble that description, I write a Libraria blog, and I’m counting the days to my own retirement. (Don’t ask. Too many.) We are liberal in theory, but militant in practice. Some of us are liberal all around, but we number too few to matter. And our patrons, we refer to as the great unwashed.

So when my boss turned in his chair to tell a story about a patron yesterday, I knew it would be funny because often when the librarian and the patron come together, it is quite funny. Additionally, my boss tells the best stories, so it’s usually a treat when he starts one. This was no exception.

He walked downstairs into the Youth Department and saw a woman whose arms were covered in tattoos, from wrist up to shoulder, both arms. Okay, fine, he thought. Whatever.

If he’s anything like me, he’s thinking that’s classless and unattractive, but it’s trendy and at least she isn’t alone in being marred by some asshole’s tattoo gun. I don’t know what he thought, actually because he breezed right over that part. That wasn’t the pertinent part of her anatomy.

The woman bent over to use a computer and her shirt slid up her back, revealing another tattoo where her ass meets her torso.

I immediately said, “Oh, of course. A tramp stamp.” Obviously someone with sleeves of tattoos would have a tramp stamp.

Nay. I totally underestimated the value of the story here.

She did have a tramp stamp tattoo, but it was the ultimate tramp stamp! The trampiest stamp of all!

She had handprints tattooed just above her ass cheeks. Handprints. Like a left and right hand on her lower back from being in a position behind her.

That was funny, but what was funnier was thinking about my boss innocently walking into the CHILDRENS’ AREA to see a woman with handprints tattooed on her lower back. Imagine the shock on his face! Remember, he’s a librarian, so multiply that by 5.

He then walked over to the Youth Desk and asked about the lady at the computer, probably with a disturbed look upon his mug. The girls gushed about the lady, how cute her kids are, how wonderful, etc., etc. Perhaps they didn’t know she likes to advertise her preference for doggie style. I don’t know, but they really liked her. Honestly, that takes balls and I kinda liked her myself.

My boss asked us, holding up two hands with a horrified face, “Handprints? Is that like dance instructions?”

I believe there was drool escaping from my lips as I laughed so hard for so long that my cheeks began to cramp up on me.

He continued, with no regard for my ability to breathe, “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look her in the eye again.”

I looked up briefly and said, “I don’t think that’s how she likes … never mind!” And I crashed my forehead back onto the desk to laugh even more.

This didn’t seem as if it would end because he added, “But the hands, they were so big for her frame! They seemed…too big.”

All I could think of was, you know what they say about the size of a man’s hands, but thankfully I didn’t utter it.

When the general public and the folks from Libraria come together, it’s always interesting.

Monday, September 21, 2009


One of my very favorite people in the entire world is our patron Mitch, who can take any day I have and make it fun. Mitch teaches 6th graders at a nearby school and I have been dying to talk to him since I read in the paper about a second teacher in his school in 8 months being arrested for molesting students. He walked into the library today, saw me, started waving his hands madly over his head, whispering my name, and he came running over to chat.

See why he makes it fun? He’s totally ADHD and I love it.

In small doses.

Me: MITCH! How are you?! Where have you been???

Mitch: Busy! Kids! Work. How are you?

Me: Curious. So, I read in the paper about a SECOND coworker of yours being arrested for being a dirty perv. What’s up with that?

Mitch: Oh, I know! Can you believe that? I’m so embarrassed.

Me: Do you guys just have the hottest kids in the county or what? No one can resist them? What’s so special about them?

Mitch started laughing, thankfully. It’s hard to make pedophile jokes with a man who is both an elementary school teacher and a father because you never can count on anyone, even Mitch, to have a strong enough sense of humor to laugh. But he did and I was off the hook.

Mitch (in a lisping, child molester voice): Tell me about it! They are just so sssssssssexyyyyy.

My stomach muscles clenched so hard from laughter that I nearly barfed. Or was that disgust? Or both? Can it be both? It was for me.

Mitch: OHMYGOD, we have the cutest kids in our district. Our teachers can’t help themselves.

Me: You gotta bring in some uglier kids! You guys are getting a reputation!

Mitch: Yeah! New rule! No more cute kids in my district!

Me: Oh, you know, Sergeant here lives in that district.

Sergeant had been standing there looking frightened of how completely animated and maniacal Mitch was, and how he brought this out in me. He was looking at both of us like we were nuts, which we probably are a little.

Mitch: Nooooooo, do you have kids?

Sergeant: Yeah, I have a daughter.

Mitch: Shit, is she in the system?

Sergeant: No, she’s only 6 months old.

Me: We have to hope that she grows up to be REALLY ugly.

Mitch: Yes. Yes we do. Is she REALLY ugly?

Sergeant: No, she’s really cute.

Me: Oh no! She’s doomed!

Mitch and I almost collapsed in laughter again. I had the upper part of my body lying across the reference desk, hands over my mouth trying to keep from screaming out loud. Mitch was doubled over, holding his stomach. Sergeant simply looked back and forth from me to Mitch, trying to figure out what was so funny.

To try to stave off the ruckus, I suggested Mitch ask about his daughter so that Sergeant would whip out his cell phone and show him pictures of how cute she is, which did happen. And the two dads shared oohs and ahhhs, but not the perverted ones.

Me: Mitch, what were these guys like? Were they your typical greasy, pop-bottle-glasses pedophiles with furry mustaches?

Mitch: No, but they were both really weird. You know the kind of weird where you just back slowly away from someone?

I nodded.

Mitch: Really flat personalities. No emotion on the face. Both of them. Not friendly at all. I almost never spoke with them out of choice. They gave off this really creepy vibe.

Me: Figures. So, what are they doing? Do all teachers fall under suspicion and no one is allowed to teach alone anymore?

Mitch: The whole district is losing it. We can’t close the doors to our classrooms. If a kid needs to talk to a teacher, they have to bring a buddy. If they need help after class, you have to keep someone else there, in case. It’s CRAZY! We’re all looked at a little differently now.

Me: That has to be a weird environment to work in. I can’t imagine. It was so much better when you worked with the unattractive kids in that other town.

Mitch: I know! Oh, and on a weird tangent, with a totally bizarre segue, we’re having another baby!

Me: NO WAY! Congratulations!

Mitch: If I have another boy, I’m just going to die.

Me: Awww, don’t say that.

Mitch: No, seriously, four boys? How can I raise FOUR BOYS?

Me: Well, you’re already raising three. What’s one more? Wait! Sergeant has a girl! You could trade, and that way he won’t have to worry about having a cute girl in a school with male teachers who molest them.

Sergeant started backing away from us at that point.

Mitch: You know, I’d really like a girl, but I wouldn’t know what to do with one after having three boys. Another boy would just be easier.

Me: Oh, you’d love having a little girl. You would totally fawn all over her and she’d be such a daddy’s girl.

He beamed and said she would.

And so the conversation had come full circle and concluded as he sauntered off to find graphic novels of classic stories for his students, who just stare blankly at him, jaw slackened and drooling, when he tries to get them to read anything. Maybe this is PTSD from all the scary, pervy teachers at the school.

The only thing I know is Mitch cannot be one of them. The guy practically walks on water to me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Manly Fail

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! And by that, I mean a loser.

A patron in his early 30s, wearing flannel pajama pants with the have-a-nice-day smiley face all over them, a stained T-shirt, and sandals, has grabbed the award for the single worst ringtone I've ever heard. The previous winner was a regular patron whose phone played "Centerfold" by the J. Giles band. C'mon, man. Do you really want that to blast when you receive that one phone call per day when your mom checks up on you?

Today's patron, our new champion, stood before me and from his pajama pants pocket blared a voice that said, "Hey! You! You fucking moron, pick up your phone!" Then it repeated. He nervously fumbled trying to get it out of his jammies to make it stop, then answered the phone while in the middle of giving me instructions on where to send his fax. So I waited. While he talked to his girlfriend and she screamed at him about how stupid he was -- I know because I could hear it -- for taking so long to get his errands done.

He'd say, "Saaaaahhhh-reeee," into the phone sarcastically and roll his eyes, and then she'd yell at him some more. This would be followed by another half-hearted apology and eye roll, followed by more shouting. At some point she ran out of chastising and said she had to go, so what did the pajama-clad guy say?

"Okay, baby. I love you. Bye."

Please, Flying Spaghetti Monster, don't ever let me behave that way with a significant other, and more importantly, don't ever hook me up with a guy who would be treated that way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shortcuts, Haircuts and God

There needs to be a shortcut from my desk to the outside world, and I’m afraid that if one isn’t made soon, I may start to dig my way out with my soupspoon.

As you walk into the library, to your right you are looking at the part of the building that houses my office, but in order to get to that office from the front entry door, you must walk half the length of the building, round the glass wall, and then walk back to the original area of the building you started from, on the other side of the wall. This isn’t so bad except that you have to walk through many patrons, near the Adult Reference Desk, and worst of all, past the Circulation Desk.


Any number of hazards stand before me, seeking to delay or distract me at best, and completely derail or destroy me at worst. Getting to the safety of my desk is no easy task.

Except that this isn’t the way I’m supposed to enter the building; it’s just the shortest distance with the fewest mines.

We are expected to enter through the staff entrance at another corner of the building, which extends the length of my walk, but worse, it increases the number of mines I have to avoid, many of which will present themselves to me before I’ve even clocked in. Flying Spaghetti Monster help me if I show up at an unusually early time, and then there is such a to-do about my arrival from the folks who work in the rear of the building, those hermitic people in Administration, that I damn near turn and walk right back out the door. There are perky people in the locker area, there are talkative people at the copier, and then I have to pass all the desks of the people who have only themselves as company unless a wayward staff member wanders around to use the copier or another scurries through coming in or leaving each day. I try to walk briskly past the cluster of desks, simply saying, “Hello-hello-hello,” in quick succession so as not to leave a window of opportunity open for how-are-yous. I’m not a very talky person unless I feel quite close to someone. And even then I need to ease into work mode like I ease into consciousness over a course of three hours after rising every morning. I’m not born chipper. I have to will myself to be so, and it requires great effort. Every smiley, sprightly, vivacious face that greets me before I’m emotionally prepared appears to me as a grotesque caricature with clown-like features, seeking to suck my very soul out of my tired eyes.

The parking lot is another area of potential ambush. I’ve been accosted by overly-friendly, talkative patrons before I even get my car doors locked, and all I can think of is that I’m going to have to tell my boss to clock me in starting when I stepped out of my car today, because I don’t play nice with many of these fools if I’m not being paid to do so.

It would be so wonderful if I could get to my office and settle in before people even knew I was there.

* * *

Today I took a long lunch and went to get a haircut. Megan, bless her soul, always gives the most hypnotic, pleasurable head massage as she’s conditioning my hair before the cut, and I’m such a greedy bitch that I try to engage her in deep conversations while she’s shampooing me so that she’ll get distracted with talking and keep going and going. Today she told me a long story about her boyfriend, best friend, condo drama, and I thought I was going to start moaning in the chair when she finally stopped. If she hadn’t cut my hair so short, I’d go back more often.

* * *

Last night, a young boy approached my desk and we had a hilarious exchange.

Boy: Can you show me where the gee-oh-dee section is?

Um…do you mean the author’s last name starts with G-O-D?

Boy: No, where are the gee-oh-dee things?

Me: Honey, I need you to tell me what you’re looking for, because we don’t have a section called G-O-D.

Is he talking about God? Someone comes to me looking for God? That’s funny. Because I have no fucking clue where to tell you to find that, kid. Somewhere near the unicorns maybe.

He sighed heavily, frustrated with my ignorance.

Boy: Godzilla movies! Where are your Godzilla movies?

Ooooooooooh, yeah! Now THAT is much easier to find.

But kinda similar.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Naughty Is Nice

Marina was wearing that deer-in-headlights look of panic while holding the phone and staring off into the distance this afternoon.

That look can mean only one thing: she was the victim of a call from the soul-suckingly needy patron, Betty.

However, I faltered a bit because when I peeked at what the caller was having her look up, it turned out she was looking for a rapper named Emile. That didn't seem right.

Here's what I heard Marina say.

There is a rapper named Emile. Wait, how do you spell it, because I don't think--

Did you mean Eminem?

Yeah, it's Eminem. I'm familiar with Eminem.

No. Not...personally.

That's when I lost it. Like, hid-under-the-desk, doubled-over-with-laughter kind of lost it.

When I regained my composure, I jotted on a piece of paper, "That's not Betty, right?"

Marina nodded that it was.

Then she wrote down on the paper that she was being asked for information about the cognitive abilities of alligator snapping turtles [huh?] and what was up with Eminem's mother issues. Always fun things to research.

At least I didn't get the call.

* * *

Our director came up with a hilarious idea for battling the graffiti problem in the washrooms. He wanted to rub down all the walls with baby oil. The hilarious thing was he was serious. He figured if there was an oily substance on the walls, marker would not stick as well to the surface. Unfortunately, all the folks he mentioned this to seemed to not think about it for a half-second and realize what a disaster that would be, and he was patted on the back for presenting an idea whose time had come.

A week ago, he came into our office and mentioned this idea, which I almost completely lost my mind over. I tried to point out that baby oil is oil, and you can't put that on walls or it will get on clothing and stain. He seemed only slightly deterred by this remark. Then I pointed out that people use the walls in the washroom for support. What if someone leaned over to grasp the wall while in there and went sliding down with a big "schlurp"? What then? Everyone in the room had a good laugh when I flung my arms around wildly and claimed I was a Wacky Wall Walker, but again the point was not driven home, for the next day someone went out and bought baby oil for the bathroom walls.


Now, I'm not the most graceful person in the world, and I often have had to touch the walls in the washroom while I'm in there, much to my disgust. Also, I'm sure my clothing has brushed up against the walls as well. Do I really need to have all my clothing marred with grease stains so that we can try to reduce the amount of sticking graffiti on the washroom walls? Am I being selfish here?

So I sent out an email to the director and the building manager begging them not to lube the bathrooms. I tried to be facetious about it and remind them that we have elderly patrons who use the washrooms and likely would count on the wall for support. Did we really want to find granny in the bathroom stall, having crashed to the floor from slipping down the walls, and she didn't have time to pull up her britches?

Fortunately, the director found the logic and humor in my email that I hoped and he said there would be no oiling of the walls in the washrooms. Another solution would have to be devised.

I shared with my relieved coworkers today that we were saved from a lubed bathroom, and that the Wacky Wall Walker comment hadn't struck a chord, but picturing granny in the bathroom, wounded and laying on the floor with her drawers around her ankles did.

Leave it to people in my department to take something warped that I say and run with it, because I was almost in tears as they continually described trying to pick up granny, all slippery, and -- schlurp! -- she slides out of their grip like a wet fish and glides into the lobby. They try again and -- schlurp! -- she goes sliding into the vestibule. Paramedics try to get her on a gurney, and -- schlurp! -- she just slides right off. All the while…pantless.

I love my coworkers.

When I related the story to Sergeant later tonight, I commented, “Now the library has a huge supply of baby oil.”

He snicked. I think we were both thinking the same things.

Me: What do you think the director is going to do with all of that baby oil now?

We both started giggling.

Me: Hmmm, did anyone see the gallons of baby oil anywhere? Where’s the director?

Sergeant: Is he in the washroom?

Me: Ewwwww, so THAT’S how he planned to use it to grease up the walls!

Sergeant: Schlurp!

My coworkers rock. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

* * *

Sometimes, when you work in Circulation long enough, you start to think that every person walking into the library is a raging psychopath.

We have an issue where we have to stay open as long as there is a board meeting ongoing. Not open for people to use the library, but the meeting room must remain accessible to the public if they would like to attend the meetings, even if it means we have to leave the front doors unlocked until 10 pm. We are fortunate that we have a gate we can close that gives access only to the washrooms and meeting room, closing off access to the rest of the library, so it would stand to reason that we could just close the gate when we are done for the night and allow the staff and board members to deal with the wanderers who might stroll in, correct?

Well, that's not doable at my library, and surprisingly it's not the board meeting attendees who have a problem with this concept.

Circ expects the feral patrons to attack the unguarded lobby, shoving precious books through small holes in the gate, trying to get past the gate, and causing other problems on par with caged beasts who are not happy being confined.

Little paranoid, are we?

So, because we expect people to behave like rabid fiends (no, not us, Leelu), the library has to pay someone to stay behind in the lobby and guard the gate for as long as the meeting will last, to keep the lunatics from chewing their way through the steel bars so that they can hump the furniture and gnaw on power cords. Or whatever else Circ is afraid they’ll do.

Isn’t it funny how one lonely little employee’s presence in the lobby is expected to keep this kind of voracious appetite for library destruction at bay? How is it these fearsome beasts are not devouring our staff and wreaking havoc all day long without the gate there to slow them down? Is there some kind of monster-patron alarm clock that goes off when the library closes, and we have to close our doors or man the perimeter lest the monsters wander into our building? What are we afraid they’re going to do? Update our displays and do some restocking of toilet paper in the bathrooms? Oh, no! Maybe they’ll stuff the monthly trivia contest box with right answers to guarantee their own win! Maybe they’ll eat the overpriced snacks we sell and leave orange Cheeto fingerprints on the keyboards! Or use the library’s phones to make crank calls! OR! OHMYGOD, WHAT IF THEY READ A FUCKING BOOK?!?

*passes out*

Please. As if that would ever happen.

* * *

I got the cutest phone call tonight. A man wanted to know if we had the Farmer’s Omni-ack.

* * *

You know what’s really fun? I mean REALLY, really fun? Revealing a little of your naughtier self to people who don’t expect it.

One of our former employees (of the Japanese Batman infamy) was in to visit tonight, complaining about his new job and how they promised him full-time with benefits and then promptly cut his hours. Sergeant and I were suggesting to him that he apply for the open clerk position in Circ, for surely Circ would be really lucky to have someone like him on staff because he isn’t petrified of every patron walking in the door.

I said, “You’re bilingual. You’re polite. You give good customer service. They need some testosterone in that department because Rick doesn’t cut it. They’d be stupid not to hire you.”

Rick is the flaming young man in Circ who is surrounded by women who are manlier than him.

Our ex-employee nodded, said he had front desk experience at a hotel and it probably translated to front desk experience most anywhere.

I added, “Maybe you can whip Rick into shape.”

He shrugged.

I continue, “Or maybe you could just whip Rick.”

He stared at me.

I squinted and said, “He’d probably like that,” and then made an “ooooh” silently with my lips.

There was a look of surprise.

I went on, “A lot!”

He started to laugh, but he was still looking quite shocked.

And then I took it to Nikkiland and quietly asked, “Can I watch?”

Sergeant, who was standing there the entire time, didn’t hear, thankfully, but my favorite ex-employee started laughing harder than I’ve ever heard him laugh.

He said, “You are SO BAD!”

I chuckled and said, “I know.”

He was laughing really hard still and added, “REALLY bad!”

I smiled big and nodded, cocking an eyebrow, and I said, “Shhhh, don’t tell.”

That boy almost choked, and then he laughed harder. He’s only 18 -- what else is he going to do with that?

That’s fun stuff. I have to exercise my naughtiness more. Probably not at work, though.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Marina and I were talking yesterday about the weirdos in our field, and while we both recognize and admit that our little library and our littler department is comprised of some really quirky characters, we are nowhere near as weird as some of the other freaks who work in libraries. Often we forget how normal and stable we are until we attend a meeting at the consortium, and when these freaks return to The Mother Ship, all the stops are pulled out. I would not be surprised to find anyone wearing aluminum foil helmets or devouring their own young at one of these meetings.

The scary thing is, Marina has discovered something worse than Mother Ship meetings: library school.

I asked how bad it was and her eyes got wide, her face went pale, and she said it was BAD.

Me: Could it possibly be worse than the Mother Ship meetings? Surely not! I mean, I think I’ve seen people picking nits out of other people’s sweaters and munching on them at the meetings before. And then munching on their own sweater nits. It can’t be worse than that!

Marina: Oh yeah. Think about it. These are people who want to be librarians, but some of them won’t make it because even THEY are too freaky for librarians.

I threw up a little bit when I imagined this. I’m not sure whether to be more frightened for her safety or the future of the field.

Screw the future of libraries; I just want Marina to survive her Masters!

As if it’s not enough to acknowledge that we reside in a field rife with the socially inept, I had another conversation recently with a civilian, and his observances of the librarians at his library was further proof that Marina and I are glowing beacons of sanity in a stormy sea of nuts.

(That wasn’t overtly pompous, was it? Because you know how I like to play it close to the cuff, suave and subtle. Right?)

While complaining about how much people have changed in the airline industry over the last few decades, I asked him if his view of librarians has changed as well. He didn’t realize that I was referring to the influence of knowing me, and that I might make all librarians seem more interesting and cooler by association. (SUAVE and SUBTLE, see?!) No, clearly that point was lost, because it was as if I’d given him license to express the things that irk the world about librarians, like I was some kind of PR rep for the field.

(Thankfully you cannot hear my maniacal laughter right now.)

His rant went something like this:

The librarians these days aren’t 100 years old, like I remember them when I was a kid. They are, generally, younger, but they’re…different. When I was growing up, all they said was, “SHHHHHHHHH!” Like fucking hydraulic brakes: “SHHHHHHHHHH!” [I laughed, but insisted I’ve never shushed anyone at all.] My library now, they don’t shush anyone for any reason, but if you’re talking on a cell phone, right away they’re all over you to turn the cell phone off. It’s RUDE! Is it okay if I talk to this guy over here? Yes. Then why can’t I talk into the phone? What’s the difference? You’re just mad because you can only hear one side of the conversation. Would it be okay if I used the SPEAKERPHONE, and then you could eavesdrop on the whole conversation? Because you’re saying it’s okay for me to talk to anyone else but someone on my phone! [Incredulous, I recognized my own coworkers in this complaint and said as much.] What if we just call my cell phone Frank, and I’ll pretend like he’s a real person and talk to him. Is that okay? [I suggested he put a hand puppet on the phone.] Yeah, I’m a ventriloquist. Really. This is my dummy. [I added that I agree, and often librarians are vindictive about noise generated by cell phones, but do nothing about other noise, and it’s not fair.] You’d think that these are people who defend the First Amendment, and they should be more tolerant than they are. [Nooooooo, I said! God, no! These are people who love the books. Patrons interfere with their worship of books and the guarding of the collection. No, they don’t like or defend the people. It’s all about the integrity of the collection.]

From there the rant shifted to include some references to hate crimes and unfair persecution of cell phone users as a more heinous transgression than any other in a library. Largely, this is all true. I’ve actually heard the whoosh of my coworkers whipping their head around and glaring daggers at someone who neglected to silence their cell phone upon entering the sacred building, and it dared to play a stupid song and disturb the pristine peace of people masturbating and watching porn at the public computers.

(And we all come down WAY HARDER on people who have extremely dumb music that plays on their cell phone. Admit it. You think much less of someone when Shania Twain or Flock of Seagulls announces they’re getting a call. You know you do. And that’s okay. That kind of persecution is deserved.)

We all know about the obnoxious cell phone users who you can be speaking with, explaining the location of some material or asking a pertinent question to aid in the search for something, and they will suddenly pick up their cell phone and engage in a lengthy conversation with the caller about where they are, what they’re doing, when they’ll be home, what they ate for lunch, what color undies they’re wearing, and who their baby’s daddy is with today. All while you’re sitting there, mouth agape, interrupted in mid-sentence, and forced to listen to this ridiculousness until they hang up and turn their attention back to you. Yeah, those people need to die a horrible death that involves pieces of said cell phone choking and gagging the offender.

We also know about the idiot who answers a call in the middle of a quiet afternoon at the library, where people are eagerly playing online games and pretending to be looking for jobs, and either this cell phone guy is half-deaf or the connection is so poor that he’s bellowing into his phone, using foul language, and talking dirty to his girlfriend. Dude, that’s so not cool. Bellow and swear all you want, but all dirty talk should be directed at me, don’t you know? Wait. On second thought. What’s that smell? Urine? You smell like urine? Like 2-day-old urine? Just leave. Now. Go. Yeah, he’s another one who needs to know what it feels like when he gets a phone call while his phone is buried in his large intestine.

But indiscriminately disallowing all cell phone conversations in a library just seems desultory. Yet, there are so many people in our field who pick something, some kind of issue, and they fixate on it, turn it into cause for harassment, and in severe cases justifiable homicide. Whether it’s cell phone usage, where a book belongs in the collection, the territorial wars between departments or within departments, the dress code, or any other obsession they focus on, there is always something the freakier members of our field will go completely berserk about. I’ve seen good librarians melt completely down, belly down on the floor, kicking and punching the ground while sobbing uncontrollably when they felt defeated in their lifelong battle to have baby books separated from regular picture books. Some things my people cling to a little too tightly.

But I take solace in the knowledge that there are freakier freaks out there who did not make the cut to become librarians.

And I think they’re the ones I’ve called the police on because someone saw him stroking himself under his pants while at the computer, or she insisted she was the wife of Jesus and chased a librarian up the stairs. Surely people who are this comfortable being freaks in a library tried to become librarians at some point.

It’s a good thing there are some standards. Whew.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

If You See Him, It's Already Too Late

River was being rambunctious after some hard playing on the stairway with my brother, and he ran down the stairs, making a beeline for me on the couch, where I was cutting coupons. I managed to save my coupons from going flying just as he landed on the cushion next to me, and he flung his big, heavy body onto me for some snuggles. Before I could recover from the impact, he threw his huge head back, looking at me upside-down, and licked my face. My brother was laughing hysterically. There's nothing like being violently snuggled by a 100-pound dog.

As I shifted and tried to get comfortable again with this huge mutt half laying on me, panting hard from all the playing he was doing before crashing-landing on me, I managed to get his damn elbows out of the way of impaling a vital organ, only to be stabbed by his ribcage.

Me: It's not fair that he has a pointy ribcage!

Bro: At least it's not his elbows. They're like daggers.

Me: How can an animal have such dangerous elbows? He will kill you the quickest by stabbing you with those things.

Bro: Yeah, don't even worry about the fangs and claws. Stay away from the elbows! They're instantly deadly!

Me: One elbow to the right spot and you're a goner.

Bro: It's like Ninja Cat. If you see him, it's already too late.

Me: Hehe, that's true.

Bro: I think I've been thinking about Ninja Cat too much.

Me: Oh really?

Bro: Yeah, like that was the last picture taken before Ninja Cat killed that guy. Like evidence of Bigfoot.

Me: Finally, Ninja Cat caught on film! All these years we heard reports of dead bodies found, whispers of a cat in the area, but no one put it together until now.

Bro: All those unsolved murders!

Me: Now people will say, "Dead body, no evidence, no suspects -- must be Ninja Cat!"

Bro: And there's one detective who has said there was a Ninja Cat for years, but no one believed him. Other cops laughed. One rogue FBI agent believed in him.

Me: A Fox Mulder!

Bro: That's right! Together they hunt Ninja Cat, but Ninja Cat cannot be caught.

Me: If you just die suddenly, no cause, you're likely the latest victim of Ninja Cat.

Bro: If you get a sudden pain in a place where you've not been hit, that's Ninja Cat.

Me: You'll never see it coming. You'll just be a victim.

Bro: Ninja Cat will replace Lupus on House. Now every episode, before they figure out the real cause of someone being sick, they'll say, "He's sick? No known cause? Tests reveal nothing? Must be Ninja Cat."

So, now I can't help but wonder if my dog's elbows have been sharpened and used against me by an unseen and far more evil entity than River: Ninja Cat.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


When I go on vacation, the ultimate goal of every one is to see wildlife. Sure, nice scenery is great, and I do try to pick locations where it's pretty, but for me, it's all about what I see in the field.

The immense disappointment of never seeing a moose in the wild, in all my trips Up North, weighs heavily on me, though I kid and say that moose don't really exist and they're all a myth perpetuated by people to get visitors up by them.

Another elusive creature that is indigenous not only to the places I go on vacation, but also in my home area, is the fox, and I have merely caught a glimpse of a fox on three separate occasions in my entire life. It's been one of those animals I've dreamed of having some kind of encounter with for decades, and B.E. feels the same. Particularly since he's only caught a glimpse once. My other two occasions included a lone trip to the forest preserve by my house where I saw one way off in the distance on a hill, very briefly, and the other was in Michigan, but I foolishly pointed forward and yelled, "FOX!" while I was looking in my rearview mirror, and poor B.E. lunged forward looking ahead of us, though I'd been pointing to the rearview mirror and it was actually behind us. Oops.

Two weeks ago, I started my staycation with B.E., and we went many places around here, including a trip to the marina in Winthrop Harbor, near the Illinois/Wisconsin border. I hadn't been there in a long time, but we were in the area for the annual powwow, and we both do love watching the boats and the water, so it was a natural choice.

We drove around the parking areas looking for the perfect place to park, and as we were exiting the main area, I slammed on my brakes and screamed. There she was, in broad daylight, trying to catch a butterfly: a fox.

One of the local patrolmen was behind me and he approached my car window as we started snapping pictures like crazy. He explained she lives down by the rocks and has for many years. Apparently it's good fishing for her. She's had a few litters (?) over the years and has two pups she's raising right now.

Altogether now: awwwwwwwwwwwww!

Isn't she gorgeous?

I barked at B.E. to get out of the car and approach on foot and I'd turn the car around, which he did. Unfortunately, this spooked her and she froze, on high alert.

Then she took off into the woods.


But glee over having seen her to begin with.

We were so exasperated over our fox encounter, it was hard to contain ourselves, but we set back to finding a parking spot where we could have our lunch and enjoy the afternoon. We chose a spot on the north side of the marina, which is a desolate place. There we started munching on our goodies when all of a sudden the fox appeared on the beach and she walked right to my car!

Maybe she was checking us out. Maybe she was hoping for some scraps of food. I don't know. She sauntered near the car briefly, looking completely adorable and snuggly, and I kept trying to figure out how to coax her into the car so I could pet her.

She didn't stick around for long, but she did throw us a parting glance and then shot off into the wilder areas, where we watched her trying to catch something in the tall grass.

And so now my life is more complete.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Just the Fax, Man

Patron: I need to send a fax.

Me: Okay, how many pages is it?

Patron: Three. And this is the number they go to.

Me: Okay, looks good.

Patron: Oh, and can you send it to Marcos' attention? And tell him to call me when he gets it.

Me: Well, I have no way of telling anyone anything in a fax. I just feed the pages through the machine that you give me. If you want to make a coversheet and write on it that it's to Marcos' attention and you want a verification call back, you can do that, but then you have to pay for another sheet to go through.

Patron: You can't just tell him yourself?

Me: I' It's not a phone call. It's machine communicating with machine, transmitting what it scans here.

Patron: But it has a phone number.

Me: Yes, It's not me personally calling someone else. It's our fax machine calling their fax machine. There's no talking. You can do the coversheet though. Or call ahead and tell him the instructions.

Patron: On the fax machine?

Me: On the phone. Call him on the phone and tell him you're sending a fax, and want him to call to confirm when he receives it.

Patron: Will that cost more money?

Me: No, no. You pick up a telephone and call him on the telephone.

Patron: Your phone?

Me: Any phone. Okay, do you have a cellphone?

Patron: Yes, right here.

Me: Then you can use your cellphone to call Marcos and say you're sending a fax, to please call you when he receives it.

Patron: You want to use my cell?

Me: No. *sigh* No. Never mind. Let's just send the fax through.

Patron: Okay. Should I write on the top who it goes to?

Me: Sure, that's up to you.

Patron: I don't know why you didn't just say that in the beginning.

Me: *sigh* Neither do I.