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Team Gaggle And The Treasure Hunter. A Tale Of Madness, Dead Gods, And The Tiniest Blanket Ever

A while ago we talked about our worst days at work. I hinted at mine, but didn’t elaborate. The time has come…

“No…” I said, holding my finger to my lips. “Please…shhh…don’t!

But let’s rewind a bit.

Apology

I was working for a different library system as an assistant librarian. Meaning, I filled in whenever they needed bodies to cover vacations and illnesses. I would book shifts online at various libraries, and while I had my favorite locations, I tried to go everywhere at least once, just to see how  all the different branches ran.

After all, libraries are all the same, right?

I look at that sentence now, and I want to reach back in time and tousle that adorable simpleton’s thinning hair and put him in my pocket.

The first and last time I went to branch–I’ll call it Branch Apocalypse–it was a busy weekend early in October. I helped people check out books and pay their fines. At the time I was called a “Circulation Assistant.” Glorious.

I was doing a good job and hadn’t made any mistakes. Or so I thought. Suddenly, a woman in a sweatsuit and orange Crocs clapped her hands and announced to the waiting lines: “You’re all bein’ so patient. Please bear with him. He’ll get it sooner or later.”

I laughed until I realized she was talking about me. I went into the back room to ask her when she had gone insane. On the way, I accidentally bumped into a tiny woman, who I was told was one of their volunteers. She volunteered at the library as part of a partnership between the library and the special needs school she attended. She was maybe four feet tall.

I had spent a year working at a special needs school, and perked up immediately when I saw her. I found that it could be much easier to have wonderful, useful conversations with the special kids and adults than with many “normal” people.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said, but she just passed me without saying anything. I continued to the back room.

The workroom was full of women in sweaters, and about 10 of the 15 sweaters had geese on them. The talking stopped as I walked in, like I’d stomped in naked with a bucket on my head and challenged everyone to a fistfight.

Although I’d met several of them earlier, nobody seemed to know who I was.

I was so ensorcelled by these oddities that I forgot what I was doing. Then my hour on desk ended and I was scheduled in that very workroom, doing checkin.

Athena

As I stood shoulder to shoulder with Team Gaggle of Geese, one of them finally asked me who I was and how I was doing.

“I’m Josh. I–”

“Got any kids?”

“No. We actually lost a pregnancy a week ago.” She apologized and after that, they all talked to each other and not to me.

Something bumped my arm. Hard. I looked down to see that it was a pregnant woman’s stomach. The stomach was swaddled in a sweatshirt. The sweatshirt had Tweety Bird on it. In a perverse balloon font, Tweety bird was saying “Talk to the hand ’cause the face don’t want to hear it.”

“Wanna meet Athena?” this mad vision asked me. She bumped me again with her stomach.

“Hi Athena,” I said.

“Hi Athena!” said team gaggle.

“Say hi to him, Athena,” said the newcomer. Athena didn’t say anything to me, because Athena was still a fetus, and fetuses don’t talk.

She started talking about how grateful she was that she had just been taken off of high-risk pregnancy status. I was happy for her. I really was. But then she kept talking on and on and saying how she didn’t know how anyone could survive losing a pregnancy.

“Josh, are you okay?” asked one of the other ladies.

“Maybe I could use a break,” I said. I must have looked upset. After the miscarriage, I usually felt like I was on the verge of overreacting for a while. One of the supervisors came into the back room, saw me, and said, “Oh good, I have an assignment for you”

The Heart Of A Hobo

Do you know who pays for libraries? You do. With your tax dollars. Observe, my friend, your money at work.

“Josh,” said the supervisor, “I need your help. Headlock [name changed] lost one of the jewels off of her sweater. She’s very upset. She thinks she might have lost it back in the romance section. Can you try and find it?”

The floor was dirty. As I crawled through the romance aisle on my hands and knees, I skimmed the titles of the books.

  • Pirate!
  • Taming The Beastly M.D.
  • Stork Alert!
  • Apache Bride
  • The Enchanted Viking

Not for the first time, I wondered why there weren’t romances about ninjas. Now that’s the strong, silent type. I decided I should write a book called The Heart Of A Hobo.

I didn’t find the missing jewel, and as I saw the disappointment in all of their faces, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d let everyone down. Especially Headlock. Even the geese seemed a little downtrodden.

“Josh, have you had a break yet?” asked the supervisor.

I hadn’t, so I gratefully went into the tiny break room, which was about the size of a large elevator. I paced back and forth a bit, realizing that I was more agitated than I had thought.

Finally, I flopped down on top of the couch. Uh oh. Something immediately began wriggling beneath me.

That’s where we came in

My little friend from the special needs school had been taking a nap beneath a blanket that was about the size of a napkin. I had just flopped down on top of her head, all 230 lbs (at the time) of me.

She sat up and looked at me, blinking rapidly, as if trying to decapitate a fly trying to land on her eyeballs.

“No…” I said, holding my finger to my lips. “Please…shhh…don’t!

“HELP!” she screamed. “HEEEEEEELP!!!”

Team Gaggle seeped into the room. 15 pairs of eyes pinned me to the wall. I have no idea what they thought I had been up to. Me, the giant pervert in here, marauding with unspeakable desires I could no longer control, like sitting on the heads of tiny ladies.

Aftermath

I went back to doing checkin. I had an hour of my shift left. I was alone in the room for a moment and the room was quiet except for some giggling outside.

“Hey! I can see books in there.”

“Dude. See if you can grab some.”

Outside the building, a hilarious teenager stuck his arm down into the bookdrop slot. I watched it wave back and forth as it strained to reach the books that sat in a bin, three feet away from me.

I picked a copy of Ulysses off of a table and threw it like a frisbee.

“OW!” The arm disappeared. I put on my coat, walked out the door, and drove home an hour early. I never went back.

When I walked in the door I told Janette that I would see us all starve to death before I went back to work there.

She looked at me for a moment before snortingand saying, “I make way more than you do. Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

But I never went back, and you know what that means:

You could find the missing jewel!!!!!!!

Josh

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  • Kris Wragg December 31, 2009, 5:39 am

    There are no ninja romance novels? That surprises me… ninjas are hiding everywhere! Perhaps they just dislike romance novels, it could be dishonourable for a ninja to be seen to let his guard down!

    Here’s my only work related horror story:

    When I was at college I spent a few months working at a toy store, I really hated it, a LOT! The manager was a real pervert and was always saying some very crude things about the women coming in the shop to buy toys for their kids.

    I called in sick lots of times whilst working there because I couldn’t stand working shifts that he was on. Eventually I lost my cool with him, and quit.

    It’s a really good feeling to shout at someone and quit your job, thankfully the job was only subsidizing the copious amount of alcohol I was consuming whilst at college and tons of CD’s/books I bought.

  • Todd December 31, 2009, 7:07 am

    Josh, while you may have had a bad day here, you had me in tears as you painted that picture.

  • Boris Bachmann December 31, 2009, 9:36 am

    That’s an awesome story – you need to go back for more!

    Happy New Year Josh.

  • Hänni December 31, 2009, 12:27 pm

    Wow, that is a bad day at the proverbial office. LOL

    • Josh Hanagarne December 31, 2009, 1:37 pm

      And not even proverbial! But anything is worth suffering through for a story:)

  • David December 31, 2009, 1:20 pm

    Great story, Josh. Ain’t life grand at times! Amazing what life will throw at you. I’m not going to find that jewel, LOL!

    Keep up the good daily articles…just found your site the other day!

    Dave

    • Josh Hanagarne December 31, 2009, 1:37 pm

      Thanks David. Glad you’re here. That jewel isn’t worth much, I’m sure of it.

  • paulandrewrussell December 31, 2009, 2:13 pm

    Nice story, Josh. It made me laugh and feel sad at the same time. What a day!

    • Josh Hanagarne December 31, 2009, 3:11 pm

      Paul, it was worth it. Now that I have some distance, that is one of my favorite stories.

  • Laura Cococcia December 31, 2009, 2:34 pm

    Josh – this is the most creative post I’ve seen on anyone’s site in ages. And I’m not just saying that because it’s you. I was laughing out loud when I read it on my Blackberry this morning. Did you really sit on her head? OMG.

    • Josh Hanagarne December 31, 2009, 3:10 pm

      Laura, it’s got ZERO creativity in it. It’s just reporting from the front lines. Yes, I sat on her head. Yes.

  • Randy December 31, 2009, 3:31 pm

    I used to do part time Library work. I was a Circ Ass’t at FIT in NYC for awhile. One of the reference librarians was a real character. He was from Hong Kong originally and spoke with a very posh English accent. Think Sir John Gielgud. Two comments I recall, for no other reason than they cracked me up.
    “Raandy, there is nothing like a nice Stilton and a pint or two of stout!” and “One of the students just gifted me with a baggie full of ginger candy. I believe she is trying to ginger me up! hahahahahahaha!” When he laughed it actually sounded like “hahahaha”. But very posh.

  • Heather December 31, 2009, 4:20 pm

    So are you working on your ninja romance, “Heart of a Hobo”? Why not? I think it’d be great! That’s a totally untapped genre! The ninja should also be a librarian. Sorry, man, I just dig the whole info. ninja stealth knowledge thing. That effing rocks! Bad days SUCK!

  • Daisy December 31, 2009, 6:13 pm

    Sweaters featuring geese will probably give you nightmares for life.

  • Patrenia December 31, 2009, 8:44 pm

    OMG Josh…I am cracking up!!! Tears and all:-). This is the most hiliarious post I believe I have EVER read. Your descriptions made me feel as though I was watching it live. There is nothing like being surrounded by cackling geese(the women)!!! LMBO!!! I’m sorry, but I won’t be going to look for the jewel…

    • Josh Hanagarne December 31, 2009, 9:49 pm

      Your loss! I’m sure it was very valuable.

  • Debbie Ferm January 1, 2010, 5:35 pm

    It was a cold and rainy night, (hat tip to Snoopy)

    I was working for a large airline doing commissary, (slingin’ peanuts and pepsi), when a passenger died on an incoming flight.

    I was sitting in the commissary van with a co-worker waiting for everyone to deplane so we could restock it, when I saw two people carry someone out and lay them on the ramp.

    After a few minutes of icy rain falling on this “person”, there was some commotion as a tug pulled up with a train of luggage carts following. Then, I watched as the accordion doors were slid open, and the “person” was loaded into the luggage cart. I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING YOU!

    What the hell happened after that, I never knew. Weird.