Saturday, December 11, 2004

Serenity in 2005 

All I want for Christmas is botox injected into my face. I want it in extreme quantities, the kind of amount that would lay waste to an entire Medieval banquet of revelers after they had ingested the tainted, improperly preserved venison. I don’t want the procedure solely for vanity, although I am certainly guilty of that little vice (and wish that more of my colleagues were as well), but for professional reasons. One of my New Year’s goals is to improve my game face/professional composure when I am on reference duty. I don’t want any facial tells betraying my shock, confusion or alarm. I aspire to be like a professional poker player or a priest or cop who has heard it all and is impossible to shock anymore. I want my face to register only a beatific serenity, even as I am picking up the phone to dial 911.

Some patron encounters at the reference desk in 2004 that have caused my composure to slip:

  • When an elderly female scholar declared that manatees have milk producing breasts and that is why lonely sailors would drag them on board the ship to have sex with them.

  • When a man with a Serbian accent expounded on his theories that Jews all go into the medical profession because they suffer from the most diseases. Then he asked indignantly why we didn’t have a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

  • When the woman wanted the name of the government program in which you rent your house to the army so it can store surplus weapons in it. There was a lot of exasperation and attitude when I didn’t know immediately what she was talking about. I never did find out what she was talking about.

  • When a man I had never seen before who demanded that I get that book that he was reading the other day. “It was red. You know the one that I’m talking about.”

  • When the man wanted the exact location and phone number of the radio station that exists under a nearby island because it is transmitting radio signals that his teeth fillings are picking up.

  • When the patron came in and wanted Britney Spears' cell phone number. He gave off a lot of creepy stalker agitation when I told him that it was unlisted and impossible to obtain.

  • When a regular patron wanted to know if I could pay his utility bill that month. He told me that he was good for it.

  • When the Vietnam Vet asked me how to obtain government subsidies to grow marijuana.

  • When a little girl wanted the Polar Express on DVD. But it is too out on DVD - she just saw it for sale on the street.

  • When the type-A soccer mom wanted a Charlotte’s Web with an alternate ending in which the spider doesn’t die.

  • When a patron with a history of scary behavior problems threatened to call the ACLU and the Human Right's Commission because I forbade him to scream the F word in a library. He has now cut his hair in a flat top crew cut and is resembling Michael Douglas' character in Falling Down more each day. I fear that I now personify 'the system' and he thinks of me as the agent and cause of all failures in his sad life.

  • Comments:
    I sometimes think I should stop whining about my patrons when I read about incidents such as these at other libraries. Or, indeed, hear about the crazy stuff that happens in other libraries in my own state.

    One of the libraries in a county to the north of mine has to regularly deal with members of a white-supremacist group who have a large compound nearby. They do nice things like pass out hate literature and CD ROMs at Christmas parades.

    The library director there, tired of having to deal with them trying to push their "literature", installed a month-long informational display about hate-groups, with white-supremacists prominently featured. The defacto leader of the local SS group was furious and is now threatening legal action.

    The library director has apparently told them to, “Bring it.”
    Oh, my goodness! I think we who patronize libraries do not understand exactly what librarians put up with, are asked to to. Though I know these instances weren't fun for you, they sure are fun to read.

    About Botox, I read an article that reported four patients had been paralyzed due to being "injected with large doses of a raw, unapproved botulinum toxin that their anti-wrinkle treatment clinic had bought form a California laboratory, federal documents show...Botulism poisoning is fatal in about 10 percent of cases. It usually paralyzes victims from the head down for several months until affected nerve endings regrow."

    So, hey -- go to that clinic. You'll surely get a poker face from that doctor.
    Wow, my dear, I think you may top even my library for crazy patron tales. :) I hope you get at least a bit of time off over the festive season - you deserve it!!

    Hmm...I could probably use some help with my poker face, too. I'm notoriously open-book-like just in daily life and the parade o' crazies makes it worse.

    Tiny Librarian
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