Sunday, August 12, 2018
There's always a Problem Patron Number One at any given time at my library. The current one is an early middle-aged African American woman with a forceful personality. I'm actually not sure who she is, not having run into problems with her, but I have heard the stories. Oh I have heard the stories! They are the kind of stories that only make me feel fortunate I don't quite know who she is.
There she is emerging out of the upstairs stacks well after the library closed. There were a lot of announcements about the closing, but there haven't been any for awhile because, well, we've been closed for so long. The door to the coffee shop was locked promptly at nine because it's not a proper exit and it communicates with a now closed coffee shop that doesn't actually belong to the library. But she is heading to that exit anyway, in the half dark, pointing and preemptively calling out at broadcast levels:
"Open that door! I am disabled and I WILL NOT walk all the way around the outside of the library so you will UNLOCK THAT DOOR right now."
I guess they did. I'm pretty sure they gently encouraged her to leave on time in the future. It didn't go well. Apparently our library treats her monstrously and we're the most racist library she's ever been to.
There have been other incidents as well. She threw open the gates of the library to enter early one morning, heedless of entreaties to stop. Another time she was talking very loudly upstairs. So loudly that complaints were coming in about it. One of our truly nicest librarians went over to ask her if she could if she could be more quiet. She was furious. She said she was being singled out because she is Black and other people talk loudly and nothing ever happens to them.
The fact of the matter is that race comes into it a lot. Every problem, every request of ours that she conduct herself according to our minimum standards and rules is met with a enraged rebuttal that all the complaints are because we are racist, rude, and unfair, and that they happen because she is Black. Then she usually threatens about how she will be calling all kinds of important people about this.
She is crazy, unfortunately.
And I suspect she is part of a small group of patrons for whom no amount of reasoning will resolve the problems. But if she weren't quite so crazy I would tell her how she can't just go around calling everywhere and everybody racist. This is America. If she goes around indiscriminately calling people and institutions racist she could be wrong.
She could be wrong as much as 20 percent of the time.