“No…” I said, holding my finger to my lips. “Please…shhh…don’t!”
But let’s rewind a bit.
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.
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.
- 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.
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!!!!!!!
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