Weird things happen in libraries all the time. It’s a side effect of working with the public that can range from amusing to scary depending on the situation, but it makes every day at the library different. My “weird” interactions up until this new job have been somewhat limited since I mostly worked in rural settings, but since working in a library in an urban center, my exposure to weird interactions has for sure been on the rise. We also happen to be down the street from a hospital, which explains at least one of the weird things in this post.
- Artsy death guy. This, like many interactions, started out like a perfectly normal conversation. This guy came up to me at the desk and said he loved my style and I looked very artsy, so we talked about being musicians and introduced ourselves. I figured that was the end of the conversation since I was letting him into a study room, but then he goes, “nice to meet you. I just got out of the hospital. I almost died.” And that was the end of that. He still comes in sometimes and says how “artsy” I seem, which is starting to get vaguely annoying, but not as annoying as the next guy…
- Prayer guy. So, last week, a man came up to the desk and said “stay pretty and God bless you.” Okay, not my favorite, because a) strange man telling me I’m attractive and b) I’m an atheist. Guy comes to ask for a pencil. Guy says a prayer, ends it by saying “stay pretty and God bless you” again. Me: this is not great. I go down to children’s to get craft stuff and pass by his chair. He says it AGAIN. I mention it to the security guard while I’m downstairs, but unfortunately she can’t really do anything because she wasn’t there when it happened and he didn’t do anything weird. Unfortunately again, he comes to give me the pencil back and says it for a FOURTH TIME. Me: am now officially creeped out, have a lunch break.
- Hillary Clinton guy. Technically this happened outside the library. I was going to a book club thing that a work pal runs, and as I was walking back to the library, a guy shouts “hey, I like your hair.” I turn around to say thanks, since I’m used to getting comments about my hair now that it’s pink and vibrant and very noticeable. Obviously this is a mistake I shouldn’t have made, especially because then he starts ranting and shouting, “It reminds me of Hillary Clinton. You didn’t like her, did you? Do you have a pillow of her face in your purse?” finally I make it back into the library. *end scene*
- Obamacare guy. Apparently this guy is a known nut by everyone. As a rule, we have to help people access information even if we don’t agree with it, because access and equity is a major library value. However, we do not have to listen to people’s rants about their political views. So, this guy comes up to my partner and I at the desk and starts saying oh hey, you guys are new, which seems like a normal conversation, but then he busts out with, “Obamacare is death by guillotine.” Me: WTF face. He then goes, “I just like to make new faces aware of this,” and shows us this paper of citations with parts highlighted and asks us if we’d like to read the sources. We definitely declined.
These conversations with patrons are by no means the weirdest things that have ever happened to a librarian, and are also definitely not the last weird things that will ever happen to me as a librarian. On the one hand, being shouted at and subjected to people’s idiotic political views is not great, but on the other, it certainly does make every day at the library a unique adventure. I don’t think I will ever know how to respond to someone commenting on my physical appearance, which I think is extremely inappropriate, and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it, but I know working with the public can be challenging at times and I’m up for it.