Libraries have the most interesting patrons

I’ve worked in libraries in one capacity or another for over 13 years. Goodness me, but the most interesting people frequent the stacks. Let me tell you about some of them.

Knife Lady: This gal liked layers of dresses and skirts. I suspect that a new layer was added as the one below was soiled. She left moist marks on many of our chairs. One day she went into the library atrium and placed a watermelon on one of the teak tables. Out of those layers she pulled a cleaver, held it high, and halved that melon like a fruit butcher.

Porno Man: This guy drove a van on which pictures of naked women were plastered. Parents lodged complaints. He told us he was a movie director and the book for which we were charging him was in Cameron Diaz’s possession.

Former Intellectual: This gal used to be amazingly well-read, which becomes evident when you see the esoteric things she checks out. Her usual operation involves taking the books outside, leafing through them, and returning them within a half hour. At least once she also returned the cigarette she was smoking into the bookdrop.

Bathroom Reader: Probably a woman. This person returned a book with a distinctive bookmark: a panty liner stuck to a page. Unfortunately it was used and we had to put the whole piece of bio waste into a plastic bag and charge the patron for a replacement.

Lady Who Misses Dialing 0 for Operator: This woman enjoys calling us to ask for phone numbers. Sometimes she reads us sentences from reports she is writing and asks if the grammar is correct. Or asks for a definition. On a particularly busy evening I said I didn’t have time to look up the numbers for Lucky’s in Richmond, Best Buy in Concord, and the address for the NYSE. She said it was my job as a ‘libarian’ to help her because she paid her taxes.

Must Have My DVD: This woman took a taxi to the library to get her supply of DVDs. One is only allowed 10 at a time on one’s card, and she had 8. She checked out 2 and pocketed a pile. A few days later she called the library and wondered what she should do with the movies she hadn’t checked out. You mean stole, lady?

Pathological Liar: You know when he’s in the building by the swirling cloud of ghastly cologne he leaves in his wake. He is a doctor. Also a professional photographer. Wait. An engineer. Tutor extraordinaire. World traveler (this one is probably true). Has run up overdues on his first card, another card in a variation of that name, his son’s card, and is now busy ruining his wife’s credit with the library.

These Books Belong to Me: Reputedly, this couple has a bookcase in their house for library books. The scam was 2 renewals on one card, transfer to spouse’s card for 2 renewals, back to original card, ad infinitum. Once they had a book for so long, the ‘new’ sticker on the spine was a year out of date. Now that we know about the original behavior, they have come up with another ploy. They like to come in about a half hour before we close, return their books, wait till the items are on a cart to be shelved, and check them out again before anyone else can get to them.

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