Wednesday, March 24, 2004


A few weeks ago I wrote about the crazy man who got upset when he couldn't find the USA Today paper. I have another story about him.

Yesterday, I came to work at 10 am, which is opening at our branch. I began by putting away some AV, and then moved to the rough sort to get the books in order before shelving. This is when I noticed USA Today man.

Our staff door is a swinging door, the kind that could potentially cause major injuries if you are not watching for someone to enter or exit the door. There is a small rectangular pane of glass so that you can see into the back office, to make sure no one is coming when you go back, or leave.

USA Today man decided he needed to see what was going on back there. It started innocently enough, he pretended to come over and look up a word in the OED that is nearest that point, and then he did it. He pressed his face up against the glass to get a good look at what is back there. And stood there for about 20 seconds. I've never even seen a child do this, so to see a fully grown man do it was even more bizarre. Somehow witnessing a child do something takes the edge off of seeing an adult do some cases. Looking though the door would have been one of those things I chalked off to adult curiosity, but knowing this man's history just made it creepy. Sort of like seeing a UPS man running up and down the street peering into windows, peeping Tom style.

I don't know what he expected to garner by looking through the window. Perhaps he thought it would look like C.I.A. headquarters, or maybe he thought we kept all the "good stuff" back there. Drawn to this, I decided to brave the potential of being whacked in the face to look in and see what he saw a few minutes later.

You see two staff terminals, the sticker bin, a few boxes of books to be processed, and a recycling bin. Its not exciting, much to my own dismay. If I was bored, than I can only imagine what this man must have felt. But is it me, or is it eerie that a patron would do such a thing? I'll remind you of his appearance:

Ted Kasinski style hair
A full beard
Baggy sweat pants
a dirty t-shirt
scuffed tennis sneakers
shifty eyes and dirty fingernails

You get the picture. Perhaps he thinks we keep all the USA Today's back there, and bring them out when he leaves, who knows.

The point of all this? Do patrons think that the "staff only" areas are more deluxe than the ones we give them access to? Do they really want to go into the staff canteen with the broken coffee maker and dirty refrigerator? Do they want to see the table covered in old birthday party treats, and half eaten bags of chips? Or do they just want to see the list of staff birthdays posted on the wall? Hmmm. Maybe they really do want to see that, to remind themselves we are just as human as they are. We do seem to take on a supernatural persona to the patrons. Just a few days ago I showed a woman where books on yoga were shelved. She thanked me as if I had walked her to the "x" on a pirate's treasure map.

At least I have some of the staff referring to the break room as the "canteen". Small strides.

Moral of this blog: The grass is not greener on the otherside of the door. It's just as boring.

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