Saturday, August 20, 2005

One Flew Over the Reference Desk 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe (relative) tranquility of the library shattered when a woman using a computer jumped out of her chair and screeched, "That man is harassing me!"
The security guard ran up to her and asked, “What man?”
The woman pointed to a muscular man dressed in combat fatigues and mirrored shades. I had noticed the man earlier skulking around the computers and had thought to myself that he looked like a Soldier of Fortune mercenary, the type who could sneak up silently and slit somebody's throat, commando style.
“Ma’am, what did he do?”
The woman glared at the man. “He’s trying to READ MY MIND!”
The security guard blinked once and then said, “OK. I’ll ask him to stop doing that.”
The woman sniffed, tossed her hair back, sat down at the computer and resumed typing.

One of my colleagues was telling me about how, in lieu of juvenile detention, he was mandated by the courts to spend one summer working as an orderly at one of the big state mental institutions. This was in the 70s, before these facilities were shut down and their patients turned out into the streets (and, truthfully, public libraries, even though the libraries haven’t received one damn dime in money or support services to deal with that disastrous public policy decision.) He reported that although many of the residents spent their days in a thorazine haze, the place was far from a snakepit, and that the patients, for the most part, were not discontent and seemed to realize that this was a place where they were safe, protected, belonged and needed to be. He said that the absolute highlight of the experience was the 4th of July parade. All of the patients processioned around the sprawling grounds of the institution in costume, or various states of undress, because a lot of them had trouble keeping their clothes on. One of the revelers, an ancient, cackling, crone, would lift her dress over her head as she twirled around, exposing her nude body, making an indelible impression on his teenage mind. He said it was a bizarre, marvelous spectacle beyond the wild imaginings of Fellini or Diane Arbus at their weirdest. I commented that it must have been very good training for his job at the library.

very entertaining. Thanks for making me wanderlust for the city again.
hope all is well,
by the way, going to "Toss" this weekend. Remember that one back in 98 before we left the homeland?

Travelers stuck in transit
by border guards following orders,
milling around the remains of their passports,
trying to sort things out.
One yells out their destination.
One yells out their homeland's name.
The others respond in anger -
having lost their luggage, once
neatly packed with firstfruits
and long forgotten textures.
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