I had a meeting with my supervisor and the supervisor of our visiting interns this morning. The meeting was in the Children’s Room, so I was dividing my brain power between making coherent points about scheduling and providing meaningful learning experiences … and trying in vain to tune out the Sticky Sticky Sticky Sticky Bubble Gum song.
After the meeting, I went to take my shift at the desk on the adult floor, only to see a woman yelling at someone through the public restroom door. I waited to see what would happen, because … well, I usually wait to see what happens before I jump into the middle of something. I had no idea if these people knew each other, or if they were strangers, or if this was the beginning or the end of an argument, or just a random screaming fit. The yelling woman (who had stopped yelling by this point) was standing about a foot and a half in front of the bathroom door, so that whomever came out would have no choice but to run straight into her. I watched and waited, starting to go into “fight or flight” mode. By which I mean, I was getting ready to break up a fight. So finally the door opened, and a little old lady using a walker slowly came out of the bathroom. At which point the other woman yelled at her again, calling her a “fucking asshole.” I was stunned, and crushed, and worried … and then the old lady replied, “Have a good day, and bless you.” At which point I breathed a sigh of relief, but her reply didn’t seem to have any effect on the other woman, who just barrelled past her into the bathroom.
Oh, and FWIW, I later discovered that the yelling woman is one of our regular patrons. Fan-frigging-tastic.
After lunch, I had a small window of time during which I could set up the program room for the games program I was going to have later in the afternoon. All I had to do was walk upstairs, make a right, and go straight into the program room. But halfway to the room, I was flagged down by the security guard who had apparently been flagged down by a patron with computer problems. And oh, what computer problems! Within the first MINUTE of our (mostly one-sided) conversation, she was yelling at me. The gist of her side of the conversation was:
- You work here, and I don’t!
- You should know how to fill out this job application!
- You know more about this than I do!
- I want to just print this out!
- I get panic attacks every time I come to the library because you’re so unhelpful!
- Mayor Bloomberg is going to hear from me about how this library is so unhelpful!
- Why don’t YOU do this for me???
At which point she got up from her chair and walked away from her computer to sit in another chair a few feet away, glaring at me. And I had that moment to mull over my awful luck and spectacularly bad timing. I told her that I would go to the information desk and see if I could find the application for her, because I didn’t want to sit in her chair with her eyes boring holes into the back of my head. So I discovered, as I suspected, that there wasn’t a printable copy of the online job application she’d been looking at on the computer. I still don’t know if she misunderstood the store employee, or if the employee told her she could print out the application online just to get rid of her. I came back to the woman with documented proof that a printed job application didn’t exist, but I did not receive an apology from her, Mayor Bloomberg, or anyone else. Instead she acted like I was interrupting her while she was checking her email, and she tried to send me on a scavenger hunt for websites about coupons and other deals. To clarify, she wanted to use her computer time to check her email, and she wanted ME to go away and come back with printouts of coupons, or something. Anyway, I offered to show her how to open another window on her computer so that she could visit coupon websites, but she said she didn’t have time to do that. So I went off to set up my program, and she went back to her email. I heard later that she also complained to more of my colleagues, who I presume were just as unhelpful as I was.
My last hour on the service desk was outrageously busy. It didn’t help that we had kids running in and out of the building (yelling all the while), and groups of teenagers making so much noise that I could hear them all the way across the building. In between questions at the desk, I would walk alllllll the way across the building to tell them to lower their voices / stop eating / stop sitting on the tables and then walk alllllll the way back to the desk to deal with the next patron on line. Oh, and in case you were wondering what our security guard was doing all this time, I’ll tell you — she was standing about ten feet away from those teenagers, not saying a word to them. This is our NEW security guard, BTW. The one we got to replace the other ones who weren’t proactive enough.
Anyway, after repeating this process several times, and getting increasingly irritated with the teens “cute” responses to my requests [Hey, Miss! We weren’t the ones making noise! We’ve been whispering! Hey, Miss! That’s a nice shirt you’re wearing! Hey, Miss! You look like you’re having a bad day!] I finally asked a bunch of them to leave. Which set off a whole new round of “cute” responses [Who, me? I wasn’t with them! and I’ll only leave if you ask me nicely!] After a boatload of protests, the loudest kids finally left.
Then I returned for the rest of my shift at the service desk, at which point I had to deal with a patron who was complaining that her daughter’s working papers were missing after they’d been left on one of our tables … and implied that one of my colleagues must have taken them in order to use her daughter’s social security number for evil purposes.
Can I begin to express how FURIOUS I was?
It was a stupid conversation at the end of a long and stupid day, and all I wanted to do was scream. Instead, I gritted my teeth and printed out a form for her to register her complaint.
Then it was time for my games program, and as I was entering the program room the security guard approached me. I thought she was going to say something to me about the way the teens had been behaving, and I was right. Sort of. She actually said something along the lines of, “Oh, you know teens … they get a little loud sometimes.” And I was like … um … WHAT??? I composed myself to the best of my ability (by which I mean I tried to stop the smoke coming out of my ears), and replied, “Yes, I know how teenagers are. I’ve been a young adult librarian for years. I know that they can be loud. But they shouldn’t be THAT loud.”
So then I started the games program, which was slightly less chaotic than usual because I’d told the kids as soon as they came in that my patience was around a -5, and that they would have to behave themselves if they wanted to stay.
And then it was time to go and have dinner with my boyfriend, during which we enjoyed a lovely meal, shared a bottle of wine, and discussed how this had been one of my worst days at the library in over a year.
And that’s when I knew I needed to share it with you, Dear Readers.