Thursday, September 07, 2006

Awkward odor

Yesterday we got a lone encyclopedia volume returned in the book drop, with the overdue notice inside. The book that was returned was a volume from Compton's from the 1980's. I looked closer at the overdue, recognized the kid and noted that it was not even the book he had out. It was a withdrawn item from a school library that closed years ago. It didn't even have a barcode. This same kid came in a month ago on a Friday, about a 1/2 hour before closing. He asked me for directions for making "plain Indian moccasins." That's what it sounded like. I said, "Do you mean plain as in simple, or Plains, as in the Native American tribe?" It turns out it was the latter. Meanwhile he is clutching the material he plans to make the shoes from. He had a fistful of brown, smelly, leather. I am very sensitive to smell, especially rank or odd odors. Every time he moved I felt a wave of nausea come over me. Did he kill the animal himself? Was it an animal? I found directions, which he said didn't give him enough information but I claimed he needed to be creative. He seemed satisfied and moved away from me. At five, when I had packed up and was making my move home, he stood there looking at me blankly. I had already told him about closing time, but he must have thought he could just hang around until his father arrived. I walked him out and as I walked toward my car he called out to me. "What time do you open tomorrow?" "Nine," I reminded him, and walked away from another day of scent provoking work.

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