Friday, November 17, 2006


I have had a very long work week, with some respite between. By tomorrow I will have worked 6 days in a row, although some of those days were partial (due to meetings or personal commitments). Today, in a 4 hour work day I had an altercation with a user, dealt with the police, spoke to my boss about a staff member's dwindling ability to do her work due to failing health, and how the staff is quietly covering for her. That's a lot in such a brief period of time. I'm used to juggling, but not when I am feeling poorly.

I once told a friend that I had the social skills of a sociopath, and he dared me to compare myself to Hitler and Pol Pot. Well, today I was called a fascist, a schmuck, and a human and civil rights violator. All because I denied a man a library card. If it were a little old lady, or a child, I would have denied them too. The point was that no matter who you are you have to fill out an application, and provide the information necessary to meet the requirement to get the card. He did not.

I asked to see his ID, looked and then gave it back. He told me it was important for me to see the ID since he was issued it after he was detained in Panama, and had his human rights violated. He stressed how important it was for me to know that, but I told him I didn't need to know anything except what was on his application. That may have pushed him over the edge. Then he put his personal contact as the head of RI's American Civil Liberties Union, but could not provide a phone number. I told him that I would not accept it without a number, but his answer was for me to look it up. I told him that if he provided me with the number, then I would call the person to verify. That enraged him, and started his disruption. He pulled out a digital recorder and started to tape our conversation. He asked for the director, who was not in. I told him that I was the assistant director and the person in charge. He accused me of disrupting the library and other users by arguing with him. He claimed that by denying him a card, I was denying him his rights. I was restraining myself from telling him to fuck off when I finally said that if he could not follow our rules of conduct, then I would have to ask him to leave. I then said that if he did not leave, I would call the police. He did not, so I did.

It was very enlightening when the police arrived. John M. had been given trespassing summons for several places around town in the past few months (including another library). It seems he is tenting somewhere temporarily. I'm unsure what has drawn him to Maine, but he will soon be moving on since the weather will turn. Of course, during this whole incident, I was shaking my internal pompoms and reminding myself that I am a gentle and kind person, not the monster Mr. M. claimed me to be. I felt my adrenaline pumping when he finally left and the police finished their work. I was not in my usual department today for that hour, but covering for someone who left work early. I'm actually glad I was there instead.

I hope for a quiet weekend.

Photo by L, taken in NH


CBK said...

Wow! Glad you kept your cool to deal with him.

Paul Saxton said...

Dealing with members of the public? I can't think of anything worse. I couldn't even face the normal ones. I'd be telling little old ladies to fuck off....

I take my hat off to you!