Friday, October 4, 2013

It Must Be Such A Nice, Quiet Place To Work....

Well.... Aye.... It is a library, so it can be.....

There is this general, preconceived idea about libraries, which is really quite charming. Most folk really do seem them as nice quiet places - civilised places, you know. Seats of knowledge, and repositories of history and story. And I have a confession to make: even though I have worked at a modern, public library long enough that it can safely be said I have made a career out of it, and can tell you from experience, that it is not really so pleasant as all that... Well, golly, I have managed to retain my own idealised version of what I library really is. Say the word "library" to me, and, despite years of experience, the mental image that comes up, is something rather like this:
Los Angeles Public Library Children's Reading Room
Or this:
Or this:
Also from
Notice how truly warm and welcoming these places are. Lots of books. Lots of corners to pursue books in. Civilised bookish people, doing bookish things in the book place. By contrast, most libraries actually look rather like this:
Not bad, mind you, but lacking a certain something. And library patrons are as likely to do this:

And the guy who turned a public library into his own personal fort.

as they are to take advantage of the tables, chairs and desks provided for their comfort. Furthermore, libraries, despite their reputations as veritable bastions of decorum and culture, tend to attract... interesting clientele. The sort of clientele that insists the FBI will be raiding us at any moment; or that there is a terrorist attack going on right here, right now, because their email won't open; or who inform you gravely that they keep their garbage in the refrigerator until garbage day, so that the bears won't get into it; or who scatter booklets about, containing the enlightening information that all world leaders are really lizard aliens, complete with pictures to prove it. In short, there are a lot of lunatics wandering about - harmless, and all that, but quite insane. One becomes accustomed to it. One learns to take peculiar behaviour in one's stride - just another day at the library. 

Every now and again, however, things become particularly interesting. Take this morning, just before we opened for the day. There were a few of us, taking a quick break in the back room, as is our custom. There is a large window in the break room, framed by a pair of lovely poplars, which looks over the employee parking, and beyond that, to a city campground, which, at this time of the year, is but sparsely populated with RVs. As we sat about, drinking our coffee, lo and behold, a venerable old grey Subaru, completely lacking in license plates, came cruising around the corner, to park itself outside our window. A rather older fellow hopped out of the car, and after a moment or two of indecision, lit out for the campground, leaped the fence and disappeared. That was both odd and a little unexpected. Several minutes later, the man came hirpling back, carrying with him a very large, red gasoline canister, with a nozzle. He proceeded to fill up his gas tank with the contents. He took his time about it, and when he was finished, he flitted off for the campground again, apparently returning the canister to its rightful owner, before driving away again. That was definitely a first. Folk have mistaken our parking lot for campground parking before, but never has anyone taken if for a refuelling station. I do hope that he had a friend in the campground, and was getting the loan of a tankful of fuel, and that he was not - heaven help up us - stealing it right from under the noses of unsuspecting strangers. 

Whilst that little episode was in progress, one of the building maintenance men dropped in to inform us that we've had a homeless person sleeping outside the library every night t his past week. Ordinarily, this would be something we would turn a blind eye to, at least, for a little while, especially since he clears out so early that no one but the groundsmen see him. This particular person, however, objects to the outside light that we have on that side of the building, and, rather than doing the intelligent thing, and unscrewing the bulb, simply smashes it to bits before retiring for the night. Sleeping is one thing, vandalism, something else all together, so now the Law is supposed to keep an eye on things. We shall see how that goes.

And before we had quite finished discussing that little matter, a great big, hairy individual, with wild hair and wild beard, appeared out of nowhere and came charging up to the back door like a Viking storming the stronghold. There came a battering upon the door, and I, serving at the moment in the capacity of Senior Staff Member, found myself responsible for shooing him away. 

"The Library is open!" He panted.

"Not yet." I replied. "We'll be open at 10. You can go around to the front, and we will let you in then."

He came a bit closer. "You have wireless, right?" he put both hands up in the air, and made fiddling-on-a-keyboard motions with them. 

"Yes, we do" I replied, holding firm to the door, in case he decided to rush in anyway, and I would find myself obliged to slam it in his face. "You can use it at 10."

I closed the door on him rather firmly, before he could decide, in his agitation, to come in anyway.  

He did leave, which was good, but he did not go very far. My boss, returning from a morning meeting, encountered him a few moments later. Apparently, it was not the wireless he was after, but the washroom, and having failed in his attempts to infiltrate the building by legitimate means, was using the meager shelter of the air intake unit for the heating and cooling system, as his own personal lavatory.... ho hum. Another day at the library. 

And this... this all occurred before we had even opened our doors. I do believe I am ready for my weekend!


Treskie said...

Hahahahah! You write some funny stuff, m'dear Maria. :)

Amy said...

Well Golly DANG! That was funny...and weird. I think I'm glad that I didn't ever get hired at the library. Such a strange place. lol. I'm sorry to say, I snickered all the way through this post thinking of you dealing with all the weirdness. :) Poor Mahri.

Bella Rose said...

A day at the library. *sigh* The viking bit cracked me up, especially when he found a way to his needs. LOL. And the other guy? Stealing and then giving back what was left over? Weird!! And the homeless guy, what was his problem? Why break the light bulb. Dean's right. People are crazy

Jack said...

Oh my. Libraries are so much more interesting than I used to think. They sound more Indiana Jones-ish now and a little less Tintin.