Monday, May 22, 2006

Mary Jane on the Flag Pole: Our Proud History

Sometimes I work weekends at a local public library when they’re short-staffed. In public libraries you tend to get all kinds of people at the reference desk. The majority of them are wonderful people, and I love helping them. But every so often you get one that causes your right eye to twitch and bulge out in an unflattering way.

Yesterday I had a woman who told me that she wanted to do some research on the city’s flag.

Me: What would you like to know about the flag?

Her: The history of the picture on it.

(seems normal!)

Me: Okay. Let’s go to the local history section. We should be able to find something there.

Her: Because I read an article once that said it has marijuana leaves on it!

Me: Oh?

Her: MARIJUANA LEAVES.

(crap)

Me: Really. Well, let’s head on over to the local history section…

Her: WHY would they put MARIJUANA LEAVES on the CITY FLAG?

Me: (using extra-soft voice) You know, I’ve never studied the history of the flag, so I couldn’t tell you what’s on it. But if you’ll follow me…

Her: MARIJUANA!

Me: If—

Her: They must be CRAZY to put MARIJUANA on the CITY FLAG! MY GOD!

Me: (firmly) I’ll show you the local history section if you’re interested, but otherwise I have to stop chatting and get back to work.

Her: Well tell me this— I don’t have my library card! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CHECK OUT BOOKS?

Me: If you have a picture ID, you can use that instead.

Her: I have my medicine! (pulls out a fistful of prescription pill bottles) You can see my name on here!

Me: That’s okay; please don’t show me your medications. They’ll need something with your picture on it.

Her: (disgusted) What did I just tell you? NO LIBRARY CARD!

Me: We’d be happy to hold your books for you until you can come back with either a picture ID or your library card.

Her: YOU'VE BEEN NO HELP AT ALL!

And off she stalked. The dull thud heard throughout the library was my head making repeated contact with the reference desk.

Twenty minutes later, I heard a voice somewhere behind me.

"MARIJUANA!"

Like a gazelle, I froze in place.

There was silence. Then a bird cried out: Caw, caw!

I sniffed the air.

My body trembled, sensing that the enemy was nigh. Knowing she could out-run me, there was nothing to do but remain still and hope that my surroundings would provide life-saving camouflage.

Alas, my shirt was fuchsia.

I gave her the phone number for city hall and told her that the city government takes all citizens’ concerns very seriously. She put the slip of paper in her medication bag and vowed to call them on Monday morning.

I’m going to hell.

17 Comments:

Blogger Bearette24 said...

I got a sinking feeling when she took out her medication ;)

There's a guy at my local library who sits at one of the tables talking to himself in a very affable manner. He wasn't there last time, and I kind of missed him ;)

9:32 PM  
Blogger Elsa said...

Too funny!

You poor thing. Obviously this woman has too much time on her hands.

8:23 AM  
Blogger bdogg_mcgee said...

You and my MIL should share war stories--she works at a public library down here. Right now they're dealing with kids who have gone around the filters and are logging on to MySpace and staying on there for HOURS even though they only have a 15-minute time limit on the computers. (These kids are somehow continuously resetting the timers too...)

Great story!

8:41 AM  
Blogger verniciousknids said...

Going to hell?! Sounds like you were already there ;p

9:18 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Well, so, are there marijuana leaves on the flag?

11:47 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Highly doubtful. ;)

11:58 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

It sounds like she smoked some MARIJUANA before she came to the library.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

So, I'm going to ask a silly question. Which city? Because I looked up the DC flag and there aren't any leaves on it of any kind.

And the fact that I did that perhaps indicates that I need some of those meds that woman was carting around.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Lisa- I have no idea what she was thinking. My best guess was that she was talking about the leafy border on the Virginia state flag, but who knows?

3:58 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

Thus the reason for why I haven't stepped inside a library since April 2005. I just stick to Barnes and Noble maybe Borders if I'm desperate.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Roxanne said...

I used to live somewhere that it would have been appropriate for there to be mary jane on the flag (and I've never inhaled).

8:59 AM  
Blogger Frema said...

As annoying as that woman was, your story still makes me want to be a librarian. :)

9:17 AM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

Anderson Cooper is on the cover of Vanity Fair this month ;)

3:20 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Ooooo! Thanks for the heads up!

(confidential to AC: call me. We can talk about major world issues together!)

4:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Apparently AC was on Oprah yesterday. She kept bringing up his brother's suicide. Have I mentioned how much I hate Oprah?

And why am I not going to library school?

4:27 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Guys, guys... you've got it all wrong! The post was supposed to deter you from librarianship! ;)

(but marijuana? have at it)

5:37 PM  
Blogger Elsa said...

Lisa - I'm with you. I'm not an Oprah fan. She's a bit too self-righteous for me.

10:43 PM  

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