Tuesday, February 2, 2016
My dark predilection
Among our library regulars is a man who seems to have his share of problems. He carries around a collection of dirty bags filled with what are presumably all his belongings. He parks the bags on one of the comfy chairs in the fiction area for the whole day and sometimes tries to leave them overnight. He is the heaviest user of library hand sanitizer in the upper Midwest. He has had to be asked to put his shoes on a number of times. He's here every day and lingers as long as possible at closing time.
He has not become endeared to me.
There are people in similar situations to his that I have become endeared to at this library, but no, not him.
This morning I was at the front desk and for whatever reason I received a lot of visits from the 40s to 70s demographic that like to come by for some light library business and much longer ritual chatting. One such gentleman, who I often talk about European travel with, was updating me on his plans. Then he said "You know that man with the bags upstairs?"
"Yes." I replied with faint trepidation.
"I feel so bad for him. I see him here all the time. I figure he's got to be homeless or something. So I put a ten dollar bill into one of his bags."
"Wow." I said, knowing I would never do anything like that in my life "That was incredibly kind of you."
He smiled the smile of the virtuous and went his way. I finished my stint at the front desk and went off to shelve in fiction. I worked my way, shelving, down the stacks and suddenly came upon a chair with all of that man's bags, sitting there, chilling out for the day. Our resident patron was there too, getting ready maybe for a shoeless doze.
I did not think to say "Hi." or "Do you need anything?" or "Can I get you some hand sanitizer?" or "Is everything going okay?"
No, what popped into my mind to say was "I'm sorry, but I dropped a ten dollar bill around here. Did you happen to see one?"