Sunday, March 9, 2008

The library is twisting my perceptions.

So this past week was a busy one at my library. I'll skip the big patron-related news in favor of the small but weird incident that happened on Thursday.

Lady comes in, wants to get a library card and also wants to get on the internet. I hand her an application and tell her that I can get her on a computer immediately, before she gets her card. So I hop out from behind the desk, lead her over to an open computer, and... she's not there. She's still filling out an application at the desk. OK. That's fine, she can get her card first. I'm just so used to people NOT getting a card first. Whatever.

So then she comes back after getting her card, wants help getting on the internet, and then tells me she needs someone to help her cancel an email account. I tell her that I can help her sign on to the computer, help her navigate to a page, but from there she needs to do it herself, she can just follow the instructions on the website. So she sits down at the computer and I'm trying to help her sign on. I tell her to enter her card number in the little box, and she just kind of sits there, gazing up at the ceiling. Um. OK.

Long story short, this woman is just not all there. She called me over for help several times, even though simply reading the instructions on the screen would've gotten her where she needed faster. Whatever. Not everyone understands how to use the internet; the digital divide is a bitch.

So then finally it looks like she's on her way out of the library. Except that instead of walking out the front door she walks back into the staff area, with my boss running after her to stop her. And then she goes into the staff bathroom. How did she even know it was there? So finally when she comes back out my boss tells her that this is the staff area and she isn't allowed to come back there and she's not allowed to use that bathroom. Her response? "Oh, it's so nice to relieve myself." Eeeeuuugghhh!!!!

Now, I will admit that I am an elitist. The reason that I like the staff bathroom is because the patrons are *not allowed to use it!* Damn it. So I used the staff bathroom upstairs for the rest of the day. It was pretty funny, but I felt pretty protective of that staff bathroom.

So that's a new patron. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of her.

And that night Nico and I went out to this little Italian place. It was... actually very nice. The people there weren't yelling or harassing anyone. None of them smelled. The food was excellent. It was almost like being out for dinner on a normal night in Tucson. That's when I realized that my entire perception of this town has shrunk down to the size of the library. My perceptions of this town's people has been twisted by the behaviors of the worst of our library patrons. There are, in fact, nice places here. There are normal people. Most of the people are probably normal, but I work in the library and I don't get out much. I'm feeling pretty stunted right about now. I wonder if I chose the right career.


Jenn said...

Yeah, the library is like fly paper! I worked for a short time in a government reference library...I really had to turn it in to a game everyday to keep myself sane.

Hang in there!

K said...

I know exactly what you mean about patrons changing your perceptions about the general public. I totally feel your pain.