Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Library: Not The Place Where Romance Begins

If you work at the library and are even moderately attractive, you will at some point have people hit on you. This can be either charming or cringe-inducing. While many of my supervisors have felt pangs of revulsion, others have taken advantage of this attention. I have heard stories of previous supervisors having brief flings with random patrons, and there was one supervisor who was known to be flagrantly cheating on her husband with at least a couple of patrons. The other librarians even joked about it, as if sleeping with the public was commonplace among library folk. Not all the patrons were Casanovas, though. One patron, memorable for missing a front tooth, wearing a faded “God Bless America” T-shirt every day, and always requesting books on different types of poisons, actually hit on a younger clerk by asking her if she were pregnant, since her stomach had gotten a little bigger. Needless to say, the pick-up line did not have the desired effect.

Anyhow, I remember back when I was a page, there was a girl who I went to high school with who started coming to my library and creeped me out. While I was shelving books I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a head peering over at me from the edge of one of the shelves, and when I turned to look it ducked away, like a Gremlin or Munchie. I decided to ignore it and continued shelving. Once again I could feel someone staring at me, and I saw the same head gawking at me through the corner of my eye. This went on for about five minutes, and I went up to her and said “hi.” She smiled meekly and started an awkward conversation. She was a year older than me and would be pretty if she cleaned herself up. As it was she had dirt smudges on her face and what looked like spittle stains all over her tank top. All that I remember of our conversation was that she said she liked Disneyland, and when I asked her when was the last time she had been there she replied that she had never been there. She came in a few more times after that, and I felt so uncomfortable around her that I wanted to throw up.

In addition to the “stalkers,” there are also the gorgeous patrons who some of the staff obsess over in ways that are creepier than even the most persistent of patrons. When I was a clerk I remember a couple of my coworkers looking up personal information about patrons as they checked out, and would commit their database numbers to memory. More than a few admitted to looking up a patron’s information before checking out their books, just to make sure they were “legal.” No one ever did anything as douchey as slipping their phone number into a book that was being checked out, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if someone did. There was also a ton of blatant flirting going on at the circulation desk, and to this day I’m surprised that no one got reprimanded for it. But then again, when even the bosses are slobbering over the patrons, you can’t really expect them to say “boo” to a part-timer.

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