As is usually the case with most people without any marketable skills beyond writing penis jokes and serving scallops to yuppies, the idea of a real job confounds me. I’m vaguely aware of the basics, but the actual step by step details are a fucking mystery. I realize that all of my friends have a place that they go to every day to make money, but beyond that, who the hell knows what they get up to. Seriously, what do most of you even do all day?
You’ve got some friends. One of them is probably like an accountant, or a lawyer, or a boat captain, or whatever. Apparently these people sit there doing shit all day while you’re not around. Kind of weird if you think about it.
So here’s a new thing: I’m gonna ask people with jobs what the hell is going on and hopefully we’ll all learn something about our friends, and maybe, just maybe, learn a little bit about ourselves. Probably not though.
My one friend has been a librarian in the New York Public Library system for a few years now. She’s pretty cute actually, which is probably great news for all the masturbating homeless dudes she deals with every day.
LUKE: So you’re a librarian? That’s gotta be peaceful, right? What the fuck do you do all day, read?
CUTE LIBRARIAN FRIEND: I sit at a desk all day answering questions, some of which are inane, some of which are the same questions 14 other people already asked, some of which are annoying, and a few of which are interesting. I also get to be annoyed by people asking me to waive their fines and deal with whatever catastrophic event some elderly patron thinks is unacceptable (usually along the lines of no toilet paper, no copies of the latest James Patterson book, etc.).
The absolute worst thing about my job, besides having my life threatened multiple times by crazy people, is dealing with peoples’ overdue fines. It’s 25 cents a day for fucks sake. I don’t want to know your name, your kid’s name, or your sob story. I don’t care and I didn’t earn a master’s degree to have to haggle with you for $3.75. Half off if you are actually retarded, but that’s the only discount I’ll give. The second worst thing is having to listen to old people fart all the time.
Apparently there is a lot of shitting going on in libraries. I did not know that.
I did not technically see this, but someone once took a shit less than 6 feet from our public restroom door. Not sure why they couldn’t make it the extra few feet.
I’ve been there.
It was not a child-size poop either. There have been a surprising amount of incidents having to do with someone either urinating or taking a dump in the library. One busy Saturday afternoon a parent decided it was a good enough place as any to do some potty training in full view of strangers (with a portable potty thing). Another time a teenager who had been causing a lot of problems urinated on the floor in defiance of being kicked out. There are also a lot of mysterious smells and stains around this place that no doubt have their own personal stories.
General weirdness happens constantly: homeless people, the mentally ill, agoraphobics, narcoleptics, people who haven’t left the Upper West Side in 50 years … they all frequent the library and they all have their own idiosyncrasies. I usually coin nicknames for these people: the Asshole Mormon, West Side Stan, Coast to Coast Mary, the Lecherous Haitian, Fat Connor, the Nazi Grandmother… I have a million names for these people in my head.
I like the sound of that Haitian dude. How do you work up the will to get out of bed every morning knowing you have to go to work?
Although there are millions of things that annoy me about the job, I generally like it and feel like it’s a worthwhile thing to do with myself for a living.
What about your co-workers? Douches, right?
My co-worker used to walk around without shoes on and his feet stank horribly. It was nauseating. He was eventually spoken to by our boss because a patron complained about it. Meanwhile I had been suffering not so silently for years. He also wears stained clothing all the time and leaves his half-smoked cigar butts lying around. Once I walked into his office and he was in his underwear, putting on his pants, with a teenage boy standing at the door. I caught a glimpse of his penis through his old baggy boxers. I turned around and walked away and never spoke of it again. Generally the most annoying thing is the defeatist bureaucratic attitude that everyone has in a public institution. The answer is almost always “No, we can’t do that,” or “It’s not possible” or “We’ve always done it this way,” or “We can’t afford it.”
What else do the library’s patrons do?
Most suck pretty badly but there are some really, really nice and funny people who make up for the assholes. What is really weird to me is that people will come in having no idea what a library is all about and expect me to do their taxes or type a letter or fax something for them. Or kids will come in with only a vague idea of their homework assignments and expect that I am somehow in the loop with their teachers so that I can tell them what the question was.
That’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard. So great.
Sometimes it’s incredibly sad too. There was a woman who came in and she was in the early stages of dementia and was trying to figure out her hospital bills. She had no children, no friends, or husband to help. It was heartbreaking. I did the best I could directing her to various city resources for the elderly, but I felt so sad for her I almost cried when she left.
Now I’m gonna cry. Thanks a lot. What’s something about your job that no one really knows that you think people would give a shit about?
People will just tell you everything. Many, many times people will give me their social security numbers and all kinds of personal information, especially around tax season. Today a woman asked me to Google her name and social security number. Seems that she wanted to find out if the government owed her money. After trying to determine what she was talking about, I realized she wanted that guy with the question mark suit’s book, Matthew Lesko. Later on the same day she asked me, “If I miss my period for three months does that mean I’m pregnant?” She obviously has troubles.
Street Boners and TV Carnage