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Friday, July 02, 2004

The Moleman Cometh 

If Joel Steinberg had paid a visit to the Island of Dr. Moreau and been crossbred with a mole, you would have something like my least favorite patron, the Moleman. Physically, he's like a mole, but there the resemblence ends, because unless you happen to be a grub, Thumbelina or fussy gardener, moles are gentle, untroublesome creatures who serve a useful purpose in the ecosystem by aerating the soil. Personality wise, however, he is a lot like child battering lawyer Joel Steinberg: abusive with an explosive temper and a dangerous sense of self entitlement. He would be absolutely terrifying if he weren’t 5’4, pear shaped and, judging from the thickness of his lenses, legally blind. He also has a voice that rises in a very unmanly, regressive way while he's throwing his tantrums like a nasty three year old.

He likes to come in Tuesday nights because he is a bully and a coward and he knows there are no men working then to throw him out. He stalks in, already in a snit, dressed in a three piece suit because he's a man to be reckoned with.  A man who won't pay $9.95 a month for his own internet, but a man to be reckoned with nonetheless. The gremlins (Pixies? Hobgoblins? Brownies? Ghosts in the Machine? Angry souls of ancestors?) that infest our computers sense his humorless, pompous, self important air and amuse themselves by fucking with him, usually by disconnecting whatever computer he is working on from the internet, always timing it to destroy the bulk of whatever he was working on because he is an idiot who never learns to back up his work. Ordinarily I would derive petty satisfaction from this, but he then starts to throw a tantrum and the staff has to bear the brunt of his petty rages. He actually screamed at me one time,

“Maybe the other people who come into use this library ARE LOSERS (quit projecting, Moleman!)  who have nothing better to do than deal with this these computer issues, but I MYSELF am not A LOSER! (protesting a bit too much, Moleman!) ”

Somehow I’ll get the computer back on-line and then he’ll pound angrily on the keyboard until his turn is over, huffing loudly in this exasperated, put-out manner, poisoning our plants with his toxically perturbed energy. Afterward he’ll approach the desk to check out a book. Because he considers himself above due dates he always has a large fine, and when he is told the amount he will start screaming and ranting at the poor female Asian support staff worker about how the library is always trying to rip him off. He will actually jump up and down in this incredibly undignified manner like Yosemite Sam or Rumpelstiltskin after the queen guesses his name. The first time I witnessed one of his fits I stood there with my mouth open, amazed that a grown man could behave in such a way. Since I have worked a lot with children I managed to placate him, but his Tuesday night tantrums began to become a regular thing and were beginning to rattle the staff. I suspect that he saves up all of his slights and frustrations from the week and then comes into the library to blow off steam as some kind of sick release. I also get the feeling that there is something creepily sexual about it, since he really likes to let loose, to ejaculate emotionally, on the support staff, all beautiful, delicate Asian girls.

One time he approached the circulation desk to throw one of his tantrums and he spotted the security guards, who for the first and probably only time in my entire life had made a surprise visit from the Main and were somewhere where they were needed. Because he's a coward, he choked back his incipient tantrum and then scurried off like a roach into the night. I thought he was ridiculous but when I realized how traumatized the circulation desk workers were by his behavior I had my boss have a talk with him about his behavior and he has improved. He rarely comes in the library now, but I can always tell he's there before I even see him because I’ll hear his exasperated sighs and feel a pull from the vortex of peevishness that surrounds him.

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