Saturday, December 10, 2005

Cue Twilight Zone Theme

Saturdays at the library are always a bit of a crap shoot. You never know what is going to walk in through the front door.

I just had the most disturbing conversation with a patron and all I could think about was, "How am I going to call the cops without setting this woman off?"

It started out simply enough. Her wallet had been stolen and her library card was inside. I told I could give her a replacement card for X amount of money, but since she was obviously homeless that wasn't a good option. That's when I said, "I could just mark your card lost that way no one can use it."

Well that was no good for her because if she gave me her name that would bring the solicitors calling. Then she said that "Burt" was trying to get inside her head and he stole her bag that also had a license plate in it. She also kindly informed me that our computers with "this sticker on the side" (the serial number) were very harmful and were damaging her teeth. Also, could I please turn down the microphones? They were really loud.


Now I deal with all walks of life day in and day out on this job, but this woman seriously creeped me out. I never know what to do with people like this, so I usually smile, nod and talk in a reassuring voice. Sometimes that sets them off. Luckily, this was not one of those times and the woman left the building shortly thereafter.

I had never seen her around here before. I hope to not see her again. Is that wrong of me?


Patti said...

Why do people think if it's free then it's their god given right to have it their way?
As for the lady with her wacko comments...Uh... there is a screw loose, but she likely is harmless.

Hopefully your Sunday will be a nice and relaxing day at home.

Ammie said...

Health care in America = not good. Neither is homeless care.

I never noticed stuff like this until around the 80s. That was when the library down the street suddenly started having a problem with homeless people sleeping on its nice, well-cared lawn.

Now, there are always homeless and mentally ill people in libraries everywhere.

Gee. I wondered what happened in the 80s to cause this.

And no, it's not your job to provide a safe, secure place for the homeless and mentally ill to hang out, except that you kind of do. And why should you feel guilty when you can't make life better for this woman and wish she would go away. You're a librarian. I don't think the care and counseling of the disenfranchised was in your curriculum.

What I don't get is why you all aren't more pissed about this. Every librarian blog talks about this. But I've never once seen a press release about a group of librarians and library lovers getting together to try and force government to take care of this. This is what government is for. Right? I mean, if government isn't supposed to do this, what the hell good is it?

Sorry for the rant.

Jennifer Macaire said...

My sister is probably tryng to get this lady a job. That's what my sister does -
She works for the state. One woman came in and told her she'd planted a bomb in the world trade center, which is why it fell. Another man only wanted a job where he could weear women's clothes, and a third calmly informed everyone that she was JFK's missing daughter.
Uh Huh. All this looks great on resumes.

Shesawriter said...

No, it wasn't wrong. Most people don't know how to deal with the mentally ill. It makes us uncomfortable. There's fear for our own safety and then there's another fear. A deeply imbedded one that goes unrecognized. It's the "There but for the grace of God go I." This is the way *I* feel whenever I run across people like that. I also wonder what events transpired to bring them to this unfortunate state.


Wendy said...

Librarians are pissed off about the homeless problem, but in many cases our backs our up against a wall. I work for a free public library - which means the entire public is welcome. Period. Even when a member of that public gets to be a problem, librarians find themselves jumping through hoops and battling red tape to get them to stay away. Again, because we are a public library that means we strive to be all inclusive.

Librarians have a very strong lobbying organization in ALA - but I think in many instances that those folks have been off the front lines too long. They've had their hands full the last couple of years with The Patriot Act - and honestly, the homeless issue largely just touches public libraries. I feel that ALA sometimes focusses too much on the academic side of issues. But this is all rambling on my part and many librarians would probably disagree with me.

I blame the demise of our mental health care system on 99% of the homeless problem in the U.S. Every homeless person I've met on the job has some sort of mental illness (JMHO) - some worse off then others.

Tanya - I agree. I think everyone has been touched by mental illness in some way, shape or form. Whether it be themselves, family members, friends or at the work place. I never question "why" many of the homeless are in the state they are in - because so many of them are mentally ill. When you have no health care coverage and the government programs dry up, where does that leave you? With very limited options.

ammie said...

Shoot. I forgot about the Patriot Act.
That is important. And now that I think about it, it probably isn't the Library Lobby group's job to advocate for healthcare. But it would help. It would help if everyone advocated for better healthcare.