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Monday, June 07, 2004

Female Trouble 



When I picked up an extra shift at a different branch this Saturday the library tech reported a revolting incident involving one of their library regulars, a bag lady. This patron is a classic bag lady, a mentally ill homeless woman who totes around all of her earthly belongings in multiple shopping bags. She is a little unusual because her bags seem to contain nothing but hundreds of small stuffed animals. Usually she comes in right after the library opens to stake out a small desk in the back of the stacks. Once settled, she spends the morning erecting a stuffed animal fort around her. Safely behind its plush walls, she then reads or draws quietly, minding her own business, just one of the many eccentric but seemingly harmless people that haunt public libraries.

The other night at the branch she asked to use the bathroom 3 minutes before it closed. The public restroom closes 15 minutes before the library does for many cogent reasons, chiefly so the entire staff will not be held hostage in the library after closing time waiting on some bum's ravaged and temperamental alimentary system. When denied access to the bathroom, she gave the staff a dark look and marched back to the stacks. She then emerged a minute later and disappeared into the night. When the tech was doing the final ‘creep sweep’ he spotted something on the floor in the area where she had been that looked like a little brown rat, but when he looked closer he discovered it was a feminine hygiene product, a thoroughly used  feminine hygiene product. What a horrible thing for anyone to find, but it must have been especially traumatizing to a finicky gay man who is already squeamish about female bodily functions. She must have left this 'calling card,' this biohazard token of her displeasure at our bathroom closing procedure, out of aggressive spite because there is another public restroom about 50 yards away in the park that she could have used if she were that desperate. She hasn’t been back since, but the manager plans on having a talk with her when she does, which is why I never, ever want to go into management.

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