Funny scene at the Berkeley Library today. I’m walking up the stairs from the first floor to the second floor. Right up ahead of me is this father with his young son. I don’t think the little guy was even two years old. He was taking these little baby steps as he struggled to get up the stairs. His father was holding his hand and encouraging him by counting off each step that he made. “17, 18, 19 . . .” They were headed towards the Childrens Room on the 4th floor.
When they got to the 2nd floor the father started to lead his son towards the next flight of stairs. But instead the son tugged on the father like he wanted to check out the 2nd floor. The father decided to indulge his son and see what he wanted to check out on the 2nd floor. The kid led the father right to the elevator.
“Smart kid,” I said to the father.
The father gave me a big, beaming smile. I could tell he was proud of his son. And that kid WAS pretty smart. Ya know? “The hell with these stairs, Pops! Let’s ride up to the 4th floor in style.”
I swear I get all the winners. I’ve got a computer at the library reserved, but when I go to the cubicle there’s this stocky, crazy old woman who’s sitting there. She’s got headphones on and 5 big bags of stuff piled near her — including a big potted plant — and the desk is full of her papers and crap.
“Excuse me, I’ve got this computer reserved,” I said.
She turns around and glares at me and says: “YOU AGAIN!” (which is weird because I’ve never seen her before)
“I’ve got this computer reserved for 3:22,” I said.
“You’re lying. I don’t believe you,” she said.
“Well, I’ll go double-check, ” I said.
“You go do that,” she said.
I go to the computer on the librarian’s desk and check. Yes, I have that computer reserved. I go back and tell her: “Yes I do have that computer reserved for 3:22.”
“And at 4:22 will your reservation come to an end??” she said.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Well I need to know! I MUST know!” she said.
“Well there’s no way of knowing,” I said. “Sometimes they extend your reservation for a second hour.”
“Very well,” she said. She FINALLY gets up and starts moving all of her stuff to another desk. Then she adds, “I’m taking the chair with me.” And she drags my chair off to the other desk.
At the library today the guy sitting at the computer cubicle directly across from me kept making all these weird noises while he listened to his headphones. The guy sitting next to me repeatedly told him to stop making the noises. But he kept making them. So they started jawing back and forth.
The guy sitting next to me gets up and goes to complain to the librarian. The librarian approached the guy and said: “Excuse me, sir. If you don’t stop making noises and stop threatening people, we’re going to have to ask you to leave the library.”
“I wasn’t threatening anybody,” the guy explained. “I just told him I was going to stab him.”
Well, it’s good that he cleared up that misunderstanding.
Another wonderful day at the Berkeley Library. The guy sitting down at the cubicle directly in front of me, two words out of his mouth and I got him pegged as the Just Out Of The Joint type. White guy about 30 with a tight, black ponytail, long-boned, chest and arms covered with tattoos showing through his sleeveless t-shirt. Plops down his huge frame backpack and immediately gets into it with this old guy sitting at the cubicle next to him.
“What you doin’ staring at me, boy?? Is this some kind of faggot shit. You got no right to look me over like that just because I’m wearing a tracking device!!”
The old guy looks back at him, completely perplexed. Like: How did I get myself into THIS? There I was just minding my own business . . .
Now the guy is glaring at the old guy with daggers. “You look at me one more time and I’ll take you outside and cut you up. You thinking I’m playing? You don’t know me. I’ll cut you up. You wanna go outside?”
The old guy stands up and backs off, you can tell he’s pissed that this complete asshole is going off on him in public for no reason, but you can tell he also doesn’t want to escalate the situation.
Then three library employees, including a burly black security guard, are hovering over him, trying to calm the guy down..
“Are you telling me I gotta leave??” he says. “I wasn’t doing nothing. You just heard the second part when I was going off on that white cracker. But you didn’t see the first part when he kept staring at me and my tracking device. . . No I’m not leaving until I talk to my parole officer. I gotta check in with my parolee whenever I get into a confrontation.”
He takes out his cellphone, calls his parole officer and tells him the same basic story he told the security guards. I can faintly hear the parole officer’s voice squawking on the other end in an official tone, no doubt offering sage, sensible advice that translates in the real world as: “Don’t cause any more trouble, you stupid fucking asshole.”
“OK, I talked to my parolee and now I’ll leave,” says the guy. He hoists his big frame backpack on his back, and another big pack on his chest, and the security guards escort him down the stairs and out of the building.
I think he had been in the library for less than a few minutes before he got into his confrontation . . . Guys like that, you wonder how they make it to the end of the day.
It’s another wonderful day at the Berkeley Public Library.
I just went to sit down at the cubicle where I’ve reserved a computer. But some genius is sitting there trying to log onto said computer. “You can’t log onto that computer because I have it reserved,” I said, helpfully.
“No you don’t,” he sneers. “This is MY computer.” He continues to try and log on.
“OK,” I said. “But you’re not going to be able to log on because I have it reserved.”
“No you don’t,” he says. “Get the FUCK out of my face!”
I back off and wait at the end of the aisle. While he feverishly, and pointlessly attempts to log onto my computer. Getting more frustrated with every attempt. I can literally see him grinding his teeth. He suddenly jumps up and comes rushing towards me with his fists clenched like he’s about to attack me. Apparently he assumes I’ve been “fucking with him” somehow. I back off with my hands up, saying, “That’s just how the system works.” (and uh duh) But he’s convinced that I’ve somehow wronged him and therefor must pay.
He goes rushing to the librarians at the front desk to angrily express his grievance at my terrible mistreatment of him.
I go to sit down at the computer, but realize he’s left all of his stuff all over the table, so he will no doubt be back, with further ugly scenes. So I rush up to the front desk to see if we can resolve this grievous misunderstanding. “Listen, ” I said. “if it’s REALLY that important for you to use that computer, I’ll log off so that you can log on.”
“Oh. OK,” he says, gruffly. (the librarians give me a sad but grateful smile that I’ve peacefully resolved a situation that often escalates into security guards and police being called)
I log off of that computer. And log onto another computer. The genius gives me one last sneer. And then we both live happily ever after.
Don’t get me wrong. I can be just as macho and confrontational as anyone. Especially when I’m in the right. And especially when I’m dealing with a flaming asshole. But generally, if possible, I’ll just take the path of least resistance. My credo: “It’s a big world. And the best solution is to occupy a part of it that doesn’t include the asshole.”
I sometimes refer to myself as a “quick klutz.” Because I often do stupid things. But I’m also quick at reversing myself. Like sometimes I’ll accidentally drop something with my left hand, but I’ll catch it with my right hand. Stuff like that.
So anyways, today I was at the library and i like to drink my morning coffee while I’m on a computer. So I always sneak my to-go cup of coffee into the library in a black plastic bag, to hide it from the security guards and librarians. Now nobody ever told me you CAN’T drink coffee in the library. But I suspect they would frown on the practice. Because, well, some idiot might spill his coffee all over the table or the books or the computers.
So I go to the front desk to sign up for a computer. But when I put my cup of coffee on the counter, the bottom of the plastic bag wasn’t level and the cup tips over and all the coffee spills out onto the counter and spills down all over the floor. Making a big fucking mess.
But fortunately, a lot of the coffee spilled into the plastic bag. Which I quickly grabbed and held upright to prevent further spillage. And even more fortunately, I happened to have a bunch of paper towels in my back pocket. Which I used to quickly mop up all the coffee on the counter and the floor. And then I dumped the whole sopping mess into a nearby garbage can.
And I pulled the whole thing off so quickly and nonchalantly, that the three librarians standing behind the counter just a couple feet away from me, didn’t even notice me or what I had done.
The guy sitting at the computer directly across from me — who happened to be African-America — just got into some kind of disagreement with this middle-aged woman — who happened to be white. The argument escalated to the point where the guy was shouting threats at the woman. Then this other guy jumped into the middle of it — allegedly as peacemaker — which only escalated it further. The guy throws several punches at the guy in the middle. Before a big scrum of people stepped in and separated the combatants.
A security guard shows up, and then two cops and they try to sort out the whole mess.
“This man assaulted me!!” said the one guy.
“I was just sitting at my computer minding my own business and this woman wouldn’t stop bothering me!!” said the other guy. He goes back and sits down at his computer.
“You have to go outside and we can talk this over out there,” says the cop numerous times, calmly but firmly. But the guy refuses to leave, maintaining his innocence. Then it starts to get physical. “GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!!” he shouts, brushing off the cops arm. Then he’s standing up and they’re trying to handcuff him, but he’s resisting, stiffening like a board. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there about 5 feet across from them, waiting for all hell to break loose and the table to get over-turned and come crashing down.
But somehow they manage to handcuff him and haul him towards the stairs, while he shouts “WHITE PRIVILEGE!! WHITE PRIVILEGE!!” over and over, the entire time he’s being escorted out of the building.
And as usual with these things, you don’t even know what the fight was about, let alone who’s to blame.
But on a nicer note, Patricia, one of my FB friends, spotted me at the library earlier and stopped by to say hi.