Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Haunting 

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After the staff performed a Buddhist cleansing ceremony last year, the spooky branch's paranormal activity abated. Staff members remain reluctant to work alone there during closed hours, but the staff all seem much more relaxed and carefree. We might need to conduct a similiar rite here at the Main, because there have been reports of hauntings in one of the basements and it's beginning to affect morale and job performance in one of the departments.

Certain old and seldom requested books are stored in the stacks of the basement, quiet and dank as a morgue. When a patron wants one of these books he fills out a request slip and gives it to a page and the page then journeys down an elevator to the basement stacks to retrieve the book. A few weeks ago a manager asked one of the pages to go get a book and the page his face contorted in fear. When the manager asked him what was taking so long the page confessed that he felt a ghostly presence down in the basement and was terrified to go down there. The manager decided to accomodate the page for a while and assigned him other tasks. Soon other pages began to balk and refuse to go down to the basement. She received reports of feelings of nameless dread, inexplicable cold spots, arm and neck hair raising and mysterious sounds - your standard haunting phenomena. The manager began to suspect that this was a clever way to shirk one of the pages' most unpopular duties so she went down to the basement herself to retrieve a book to show her staff that there was nothing to fear and silly superstitions did not belong in the workplace. She didn't see anything unusual, but as she reached for the book another fell off the shelf above her onto her head.

The book that fell on her head was, fittingly enough, about cats. I have to wonder if the fates were cruelly mocking her and her profession, or if the ghost was is that of a recently deceased librarian retiree of this system whose obituary I read last week. She was in her nineties, and bequeathed her surprisingly large estate to the care of her cats, 'whom she considered part of her family.' Upon their death, the remainder of the estate was to go to a local veterinary school for geriatric feline research. I have to thank her for that boost to the image of our profession.

do you believe in deja vu?
Poor cats, always getting a bum rap. When I volunteered at the SPCA, little black kittens -- the most adorable creatures you can imagine -- would go unadopted for long stretches of time because so many people are afraid of "evil black cats". Seriously. In a modern metropolis, in this day and age.

As penance for your cat slander, you are to read _The Tiger in the House_ by Carl van Vechten this weekend. It's old and kind of crazy, but it's a good time. Your main branch has a copy, I believe.
I'm not disparaging kitties - sorry you got that. I'm laughing ruefully, and maybe a little nervously, at the stereotype of the spinster librarian who died alone with her catchildren.
I'm a bit of a skeptic myself but every once in a while there are places even I don't like. The University I transferred to this year occupies the site and many of the buildings from a decommissioned mental hospital. Needless to say parking is a pain since the layout was never designed to hold students. To combat this I've found a secret parking lot tucked into a corner of the property where nobody else parks. Wednesday night I discovered why as that "nameless dread" came over me while I walked to my car. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to park there, it beats the alternative locations and I could benefit from the exercise running to my car provides.
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