Monday, July 21, 2008
The Library Nemesis
Superman has Lex Luthor. Spider-Man has Doc Ock. The X-Men have Magneto. Batman has the Joker. And I had Dick O'Shea.
Well, Dick O'Shea isn't his real name, but I'm not dumb enough to give the man publicity here. The point is, everyone who works at a library has, at some point, a certain patron or staff member who's only raison d'être is to cause them misery and blacken the remainder of their day. It can be anyone, ranging from a bitter patron with a permanent chip on their shoulder, an angry elderly person expressing the same exact complaints to you every time you see them, or a bratty child who no one seems to know how to take care of. You try to sit there and rationalize things. You try to take on their point of view. No matter what techniques you apply to make the situation less irksome, it never works. They still have the social effect of someone pissing in your Cheerios.
When I first encountered Dick O'Shea, I was struck by his angry, scowling face. You knew immediately that no matter how well you helped this person, they would still leave the library with that same expression, and would not even grant you the customary "thank you" for your services. He never checked out anything from our library's collection: it was all Inter-Library loans, which are books that are special ordered from other libraries not in the same system. He would spend half an hour at the information desk, talking to whichever poor soul was working the desk and no doubt making their job a living hell. Afterward he would walk up to the circulation desk and proceed to talk down to the circ staff, which is where I come in.
This idiot had the annoying habit of bringing in his own little sheets of paper and having whoever was on desk sign it when he returned his book, as a kind of guarantee that his books got returned. He would not infrequently grab a staff member's ID badge and pull it toward him, so he got a good look at their name. I'm sure people told him to not do this, but I seriously doubt that it mattered. When he would return a book, he would walk up to the desk, and throw it at us, without saying a word. When asked "are you returning this or do you want to check it out?" his snotty response would be "what do you think?" I think it's pretty damn interesting that one obnoxious prick could intimidate practically the entire staff of the library. My response to this jerk off was scowling and not infrequently walking as soon as he came to stand in line.
My own form of petty revenge has to do with his book. This man's around 70, and he self-published a book, and bullied his way into having it included in the library's collection. It has an Amazon sales rank of nothing. My own form of revenge is finding every website that lists this book and writing the most intensely negative reviews I can think of about it. Since I never got the chance to punch this son-of-a-bitch in the face, I'll do the next best thing by taking a shit on his life's work. God I hate this man.
Everyone else has their own enemy that they deal with far too often than they'd like. My coworker Scott (who's lovely book "The Library Tree" is available as a free download) has some Asian man who stares him down each time he comes in. Another coworker has a fat, hairy man who keeps hitting on her, sweat beading up on that thicket sticking out of his tank top. My best friend had this fat tub of shit with a coco puff on her cheek who got her fired. My other closest friend has a girl who gossips among the other staff members and who's face looks like shredded wheat. We all have someone who makes the job that much more annoying, that much more grating on us. Even after leaving my old branch and never having to see Dick O'Shea again, I now have to deal with an equally rude man with an obvious toupee. No matter what library I work at, there will always be someone there, waiting around the corner, with a frowny face to ruin my day.
But seeing the smile on those kid's faces when they get their Pooh Bear books makes it all worth it.