Saturday, November 14, 2015

That smell

I have done what I could about that smell that most days now dominates the whole fiction wing of my library. I discussed it with our branch manager, twice. I argued for action both times, making the best case I could. Do you smell that smell? Yes? It is not sewage backup. We have no rotting garbage. A family of raccoons did not die in our walls. No one tracked anything in. It is not mildew, excrement, or zombies. A child did not heave up secretly behind one the comfy chairs. No, it is that man. His clothes are rotting on him as we speak. They are dark and stained with human grease. His urine has dried into them. He smells like old rotten bandages boiled in hot piss and then left to steep for a nice long time.

I am sympathetic. I don't know what the gentleman is going through. I know the branch manager doesn't want to talk to him. What would he say? Maybe if the patrons complained. But here is what I don't understand most of all: No one complains.

No one complains. People at my library have complained about insanely minute things. They complain about our having parking spaces for fuel efficient cars. They have complained about the laughter of children. They complain about having to verify their address to get a library card. They complain about having to wait for a book they want to read. They complain about the computers shutting down when we close. But a man who smells so bad you know where he is and has been within 200 feet, a man who smells so bad it will induce your gag reflex, well, no one wants to be rude.

Ah well, that's sort of sweet in its own, self-suffering way. Minnesota. I have made my pitch and my rant. Now I will learn to always remember to breathe through my mouth and rejoice in the inoffensiveness of my community.

I'm not touching his chair though.


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