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.