Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Crazy Old Man Pt. 1

When you work at a library you meet all sorts of interesting characters.  There are the nice homeless people, the crazy homeless people, drug addicts, people who just got arrested and released (the library is in front of the police booking station), nice kids, damn kids with their skateboards, and of course crazy old people.  There is one crazy old man in particular that comes to the library almost every day.  This Crazy Old Man (COM) loves to talk and talk even though you may try to ignore him.  When I started working at the library I was warned by other co-workers about him and had a few very brief experiences with him.  Today, I was not so lucky.

While working by myself at the upstairs desk, COM comes old person shuffling up to the desk.  He first asks me where a certain female co-worker is stationed.  I tell him she is in the computer lab, but he does not leave to seek her out and stays there chatting to me.  I think it is because he fears computers.  He comments that it is too bad that she is married cause he wants a wife.  COM asks me if I was married, I quickly respond yes even though I am not to keep him from thinking he has a chance.  He goes on to tell me that he wants a wife because there is no marriage in the kingdom of heaven so he has to get one before he dies.  He also says he wants one that is 'fixed' with a hysterectomy because he does not want to have children.  He thinks they are a drain on finances and a pain, but he also went on to say that he likes kids in the same breath.

He decides to sit at one the chairs behind me and asks if I could get him two of yesterday's newspapers from the closet.  I grab the keys from the drawer and head over to previously mentioned closet and he offers to hold the door open for me.  I tell him that the door will stay open automatically and that there is no need for him to stand there.  He says he does it for everyone else, but I did not want to be trapped in a closet by a creepy old man.  When I get to the closet door I realize that the key to open it is not on the key ring.  I inform COM about the situation and he sighs and tells me that this happened yesterday.  COM is convinced it is a liberal conspiracy between the government and the library to keep the Wall Street Journal away from him.  At this point I am desperate to find the damn key to get those papers because my feeble mind thinks it will keep him from talking to me.  There is no closet key to be found.  At this point I realize I am trapped.  I frantically send Henry an email asking him to call the library so I could sound busy and important on the phone and to keep him from talking.  My plea for help was read too late.

COM loudly asks me what church I attend.  I tell him that I am actually Jewish, even though I am not (but would like to be).  Secretly I hope that he hates Jewish people and will stop talking to me.  Big mistake.  He loves Jewish people!  He then tells me that he wants to marry a Jewish woman because he thinks they make good spouses.  His reasoning is based on the fact that his sister or cousin Mary had been married to two other men, but that didn't work out ("With a name like Collin you would have thought he was a good guy").  But then she married a Jewish man whose name he could not remember, but was a diplomat.  They moved to Israel and he has not heard from her since.  He thinks they're back in the United States, but he does not know.  The simple fact that he thinks things worked out between them and that she is okay because he has not heard from her blows my mind.  He also tells me about all the Jewish people he has ever known.  I feel it is important to point out that whenever COM describes a woman he ALWAYS mentions race, how attractive he found her, her attractive or unattractive features, and her name if he can remember it.

My strategy was to flat out ignore the man until he went away, but apparently ignoring him gives him the impression that he should just continue talking.  He asks me if I know a guy named Gordon who works at the McDonalds a few blocks away.  I tell him, no, I do not know this man.  He continues to go on about where Gordon lives and how he thinks he got messed up in 'the war' and that Gordon does not like it when COM talks to him and has told him so.  COM does not get why Gordon does not like him and does not talk to him even though Gordon will talk with other people.  I get why Gordon does not talk to him.  I wish Gordon could keep him from talking to me.  By this point I have walked away from the desk to the magazine racks and meticulously straighten stacks of old magazines to keep myself far away from this man.

He asks me if I have kids.  I shake my head no rather than verbally communicate anything with the slight hope that it might deter him from asking more questions.  He tells me that I should get myself 'fixed' as soon as possible.  If I had a dollar for every time this man has told me about how all women should be 'fixed' I'd have like, fifty bucks.  He asks me if I live in North Little Rock, again I shake my head no.  I do not want this man to know where I live.  He accepts this as a good reason for me to not be familiar with the area, him, or Gordon.

A ray of hope appears in the form of co-worker Ashley who has come to take over the station while I head back downstairs.  I talk with her for awhile about how to close the second floor because it was her first night to do so.  I see that COM is shuffling down the stairs and I hope that he has left the building.  When I get to the first floor I see the brown windbreaker clad COM standing at the desk talking to co-worker Marissa and a part of my soul dies.  Why was this happening to me?

Tune in tomorrow for Crazy Old Man Pt 2:  Desk of Doom.

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