I am Barb the human Barb-eque grill checking out your books. You could roast a chicken on my sternum and a hotdog under each boob. The amount of sweat that rolls off the back of my neck could support a flotilla of Baleen whales. I now believe in spontaneous human combustion. It happens to menopausal women. One minute they are thinking they might die of a hot flash and seconds later they do, leaving behind just a cranky little pile of smoking ashes and a melted wedding band. I am afraid this will happen to me at the circulation desk one day. And there are several things that could help it along.
A.) The Xerox machine.
On a good day, it auto-senses correctly the size of paper it needs and makes that happy little bup-a-dom yup-a-dom song that sometimes I whistle along with. But. On a bad day, Xavier the Xerox turns into Javier, the evil twin. It chokes on its own paper. It spits out projectile copies of its own eyelid at the closest human being, myself, ten feet away. I can feel it come alive and purr with malevolent intent. I talk it to it like I am a dominatrix and it is my slaveboy. I believe this might also be a symptom of menopause. I say, "Uh oh, who's being a very baaad boy? Who needs a punishment?" Unplugging is the nastiest thing I can think of to do to Javier. After all, he is a guy.
B.) The bathroom and water fountain fixated patron.
Sometimes I think people must not have bathrooms or water here in Artsy-Fartsy Small Town, Connecticut. That is why they come to the library. One person in particular only checks out three things- the first two are the water level of the bottle of spring water and the cup situation. "Excuse me," she'll say "Did you know that you are all out of cups?" Or, "Excuse me, this water bottle is empty." Her favorite place, though, is the bathroom. Lots can go wrong in there. If someone before her has left the seat up, spilled soft soap, used all the toilet paper or dropped paper towels on the floor, she gleefully reports it in full detail. The most excited I ever saw her get was when someone forgot to flush. This was cause for some of the most inventive language I ever heard all because she didn't want to say "poop" at the circ desk. So, I said it for her. "Oh, you mean there's a POOP in the toilet?" Then, I unplugged her.
C.) The random reference question. They don’t care what the answer is, they just have to ask it:
"Have you lived here all your life?"
I make like a Maine-iac and drily say, "Not yet."
"What percentage of the population here is from New York City?"
"All of them," I say. "When they leave on Sunday afternoon, I have the whole damn town to myself."
"What was Lincoln's favorite food?"
"What is the square footage of the library?"
"How many books are there in the collection?"
"How much money did this place cost to build?"
"28,000." (In 1889.)
As improbable as it seems, all of the 28,000 ones are true. The guy that asked me the last three questions didn't believe me and I don't blame him. I felt sorta like Sponge Bob Squarepants with his random response of "1924" whenever he doesn't know the answer to something. And don’t forget, I have a chicken on my chest.