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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Pack up your rape culture and take a hike! 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comA young woman with dyed magenta hair and army boots stalked up to the desk. She looked like she was fresh from a WTO protest. "I have a complaint about this place!"

I reached under the desk and handed her a suggestion and complaint form.

She angrily filled out a form. She seemed to be using every bit of her arm muscle, which looked bulked up, probably from throwing rocks through the windows of Starbucks' and other chains during demonstrations. I was concerned she was going to snap my innocent pen in two or leave permanent indentation marks on the desk.

“These guards!”

“Yes?”

"They give the library a real nice feel - like an institution! Like, the security guards, they look like cops! I mean, why do they need those sticks? And uniforms? They look like stormtroopers! The library is supposed to be a place of learning, not a prison! They totally ruin it!"

I adore security. Without it, this place would descend into 3rd day without food and water conditions at the New Orleans Superdome. In about 5 minutes. But, my policy is not to engage, because, really, it’s just pointless, and it usually only escalates the situation. If you just smile and nod and say, “I hear you,” this will usually satisfy them enough to go away. Oftentimes people just want to be heard, especially mentally ill people, because no one else in their lives will listen to or acknowledge them. So my habit is to listen, but not dance. That way, if a patron comes to the library to blow off some steam by picking a fight, he'll find, as Adam Carolla says, that it's about as much fun as throwing a handball against the drapes.

There was something about this girl, however, that really made me want to poke a stick at her.

"Security guards are here to maintain the peace and protect library property. They're here for everyone's protection. This is a public building and we get all types."

Believing that she had caught me making a discriminatory statement, her eyes blazed triumphantly. "By all types do you mean the HOMELESS? Because they have just as much right to be here as anyone else!"

"The homeless, like all of our patrons, have a right to be safe in the library. Many come here because they know they can be safe here and they can get some peace and quiet."

She looked a bit crestfallen. Stymied, she started to say something, and then stopped.

“Well, I bet those security guards,” pointing to the bored African American security guard examining her manicure by the security gates, “I bet they even engage in PROFILING. I promise you, if a man in a briefcase sets off the alarm, they just wave him through! But if someone stands out, if they look different, like if they have red hair, then they get stopped and hassled!"

"Red hair? What are you talking about? Look, I'm not going to get into a philosophical debate with you at the reference desk about library policy. I don't speak for the administration and their decisions. You turned in your complaint; they'll get it. Unless you have a reference question I ask that you step aside and let the next person step forward in that long line that has formed behind you."

"But you do speak for the library!"

At that point I turned to my computer screen and yawned.

"Great, now you're tuning me out!"

A long line of people glared at her. Probably embarrassed over her red hair statement, which has to be one of the most retarded points ever made, she stomped off.

We get so much misplaced anger. There are many things to be angry, even paranoid about, in this society, but the library isn't one of them, I promise you. I guess we’re easy targets for people to unleash their aggression on, like waitresses at restaurants.

She reminded me so much of one of the angry womynists in PCU. This is some dialogue from when two of them go to a fraternity party.

Football Player: What's up, babes?
Womynist #1: Pack up your rape culture and take a hike!
Football Player: You want a brewdog?
Womynist #1: We're not interested in your penis!
Womynist #2: Wait, wait, I think he's offering us a beer. Um...yes...we...would...like...a...beer.
Football Player: Okayl! (To fellow jocks) Hey! Gimme a beer! Gimme a beer!
Womynist #1: It's like, if you're nice to them, they bring you things?
Womynist #2: Exactly.

Comments:
I feel your pain. I get yelled at weekly because the elected tax collector across the hall is never there. I don't even know the guy's name and probably couldn't pick him out of a line up if I had to but, it's my fault he's not there.
 
Reminds me of this article I read about toll collectors on the bridge a few years ago. At least people aren't spitting at you.
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1999/07/22/NEWS15473.dtl&hw=toll+bridge+spit&sn=001&sc=1000
 
Oh, that happens. I just haven't written about it. Our security guards, especially, get spit on all the time. When I worked at the Sheriff's Office the cops would always say, "I don't care what you do, but if you spit on me I will find a way to hurt you so bad that you will be spit blood instead of saliva." Don't say I blamed them.
 
Do you have a picture of the PCU complaint form, please post it if you do or email me at r.beurmann@stanleyassociates.com
 
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