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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Shoot up @ your library - a slogan I don't care to see 


I was at the branch in the formerly ‘hippie’ section of town yesterday. Although there were still plenty of flower children patrons, they’re now way outnumbered by permanent dropouts, scary drifters, and junkies. In fact, there were enough opiate addicts there that it would make it a convenient time saver for all involved to just go ahead and open a methadone clinic in the branch. I was stationed there because the regular librarian was being stalked and threatened by a deranged female patron the day before. The librarian didn't feel comfortable returning to this branch the next day for some reason and had herself transferred to another branch temporarily. No one bothered to tell me the situation until I reported for duty yesterday morning and I all I could do was wait there like a sitting duck, terrified some angry, crazy woman would come bursting into the library hell bent on revenge. I hoped that her particular mental disorder had not disabled her facial recognition capabilities. Even if she could distinguish me from the object of her obsessive hatred, I prayed that she wouldn't shrug and say to herself, “Well, I’m already here, so I guess the librarian sitting at her desk will have to do.”

I hadn't been to this branch in a while, but I used to work here a lot back when I was a naïve, fledging public librarian and I credit it with bringing me up to speed. One night I went to the children's section and saw that the young woman I had helped print something from the internet earlier had passed out over the heating grate. I immediately thought that she must have slipped into a diabetic coma or suffered a brain aneurysm and shrieked at the tech to call 911. I tried to revive her but she remained inert and unresponsive. Instead of calling 911, the old jaded tech marched over, stood over her and yelled, "No sleeping in the library!" This had about the same effect on her as it did on Uma Thurman when John Travolta plunged the hypodermic needle of adrenaline into her heart in Pulp Fiction. She woke with a gasp, looked around and smiled sheepishly. She then got up and weaved her way unsteadily out the library. Her pupils were pin pricked, what I now recognize as a tell tale sign of heroin use, and soon after we found some hypodermic needles in the bathroom.

I got quite an education the next few times I worked there, and also got good assertiveness training by having to kick junkies off the computers that were nodding off in front of the monitors. Talk about a waste of your turn at the computer! Anyway, I hope that I don’t become so cynical that I won’t recognize a genuine medical emergency when one does happen.

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