Thursday, March 17, 2005

Times Have Changed

A funny incident today: a dapper, rather arrogant and brusque 60-ish gent in a knit sweater and beret stormed in and demanded that I "shut up" a young lady speaking on her cell phone. Said young lady--most likely 19 or 20, African-American and very attractive, was reading a homework assignment off the computer screen to someone on the phone.

I excused myself gently and asked if she could refrain from using her cell phone; their use is barred in the library outside of the lobbies.

"I have to read this to Shondra and I can't do so from the lobby," she said.

"That may be, but the use of cell phones here is not permitted, particularly if it disturbs other patrons, which is the case now."

"Again, I understand that..."

Loud, rude honky: "If you understand it than get out!"

Sista: "Why don't you shut your fucking mouth, old man!"

Things devolved rapidly from here on out. I'd done all I could do--so far as I know the next step is to call the campus police and have an unruly patron escorted out, but in this case the young woman needed to read her assignment to her group project mate, and it was only a three-paragraph business letter, so I figured I'd let her take care of things herself. None of the other patrons were bothered. Plus, the guy was obviously a prick, even if he did have Liberry policy on his side.

I returned to the desk and picked up the phone, pretending to call campus police, and watching the young woman, now with four or five other patrons on her side, yelling at the old white guy. He made a contemptuous gesture at them all, stood, and put on his leather mack before huffing out the door red-faced.

This sort of thing happened all the time in book retail--so often, in fact, that I rarely felt even the slightest bit of confusion or annoyance when people screamed at me because that was simply part of the job. When these two started shouting at each other, however, I immediately slunk off, wholly intimidated and feeling out of my depth, and I loved it! No longer am I responsible for handling such situations! No longer am I forced to absorb invective. No longer do I have to be diplomatic in any way with patrons.

I'm officially de-programmed of all retail management traits.


Nick said...

Jeeeez. Did you see the flyer the distrubted with the porno guy's mug on it saying "if you see this man call campus police immediately"? What a creep! I wonder how they got the picture. Maybe he loaded it onto the computer in order to send it to chat room guests.

Nick said...

You know what though? I think BOTH people involved in that were pricks if you ask me. It's always some sort of little inside spat going on between the complainer and the offender. Always, always, when I ask the complainer if they actually talked to the person I get the zombie expression. "Communicate? Huh, what's that?" Both know they are being rotten and want to get someone else involved to pay attention to their sorry asses. I also love it how many people seem to be unable to comply with a polite request. On that note; if one can't go to a library to find some silence, where else can one go? At least she was a student--most of the time here it's a row between people not even of our schools! I don't know if I've been de-programmed from my Ludovico treatment yet but in any case I detest those little petty "disturbances".

Anonymous said...

"...shoot the bastard that's my policy." - Dirty Harry

geoff said...

I agree that both were assholes...while he was superior and condescending and a bit unreasonable, the entire universe was required to bend to her demands, policy or no.

I'm simply pleased that I don't have to stand there and put up with it any more. I can call the police and not worry about getting sued. Also, something like this would have happened triweekly at Boring Bugs and Mucus.

geoff said...

Oh, and Porno Man! The cops came and took his photo when they barred him.