Friday, October 28, 2005

Library Defense 101 

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
All the animals come out at night.
Travis Bickle

Now that I’m at the Main Library, my time at work is so much less stressful, and I owe it all to having Security. I hadn’t realized how on edge I had been working in the branches. Because the branches are without security, I was always preoccupied by the responsibility of enforcing peace and order. Having to be the law and fretting about what patrons were up to put me in this exhausting state of combat readiness. When I patrolled the stacks (what is known as the creep sweep in the biz) I tried to cultivate a zanshin state of awareness but never could get beyond feeling like a green Vietnam War grunt patrolling the jungle after smoking some especially potent Thai stick, paranoid and jumping at every sound.

The nights were the worst, because nightcrawler patrons tended to really act up then, especially Tuesdays nights when the library was staffed solely by women for some inexplicable reason. Patrons would take advantage and pull all sorts of scary behavior they never would have dared had there been a man working. If it were a cold night, drunken homeless often refused to leave at closing time, even when I tried to plead and reason with them. Only when I threatened to call the police would they reluctantly, resentfully shuffle out. Often they would wait right outside the door to intimidate us when we left.

One night when one patron wouldn’t leave he sat by the door staring at me with so much hatred I really believed he was going to attack me. I looked desperately for something with which to defend myself, but a stapler and hole punch was all I had within my reach. I then spotted the bamboo poles that we thread our newspapers through, and thought that if worse came to worse I could try my hand at martial arts stick fighting. Since most libraries use those sticks to hang their newspaper, perhaps all librarians should be trained in that method.

A librarian at my branch suggested library-issue flak jackets.
My public library (not where I work, just where I rent DVDs) is in a relatively wealthy suburban neighborhood. I'm pretty sure if you were a homeless person and you showed up there someone would call the police, an officer would show up and, this is the important part, they would shoot you.
I remember when I was working as a waitress and this one customer got wierd.

Luckily there was a young man who worked with me, a Division I offensive lineman, a monster. He was probably 6'7", 300 pounds. I went in the kitchen and asked him to come out for a minute.

And he did. He didn't even make eye-contact with the customer or anything, he just started rolling napkins or something, acting all nonchalant but the aggressive dude shut down completely. He went all, "yes ma'am and thank you ma'am" just like that.

Two things stayed with me about that night. First, I hadn't realized before how well Little Mario (his dad was Big Mario) understood things. Like I said, he didn't talk to the guy or even look at him. He knew it was enough just to stand there, just to be present in the room. Second I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to go through life like that.
Post a Comment

Sign up for my Notify List and get email when I update!

powered by

Creative Commons License

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?