It's Monday morning, and I'm groggy and having a hard time getting myself in gear for the week. And almost first thing this morning I had to deal with gross stuff.

     First off, one of my library regulars came in, a boy who likes to hang out at the circ desk right by me, like Norm or Cliff from Cheers. With me being Sam the bartender, nodding and listening patiently. Unfortunately, this kid is from a family that doesn't value hygiene or cleanliness, and the poor kid even TOLD me that they finally did laundry just yesterday, and that before that, all last week he wore the same clothes every day. This kid has the potential to be an interesting, good guy, but he has some cognitive issues, plus a family that doesn't make sure he's clean. 

     He may have been wearing recently-washed clothes this morning, but HE still smells like he did last week. And it's not good. Sort of a biting urine smell, with a soupçon of sweat and must. I think I may have to talk to the health clerk, and see if she talks to kids with hygiene issues. I definitely don't want him to feel bad or embarrassed, so it needs to be handled delicately.

     I also had a load of about 12 textbooks stuffed into the return slot at the very end of the day last Friday, right before I left. The drop slot clearly says, "DO NOT RETURN TEXTBOOKS HERE," but maybe whoever left the books didn't notice the giant bold red letters. Anyway, this morning I saw them sitting there, and while the kid with the hygiene problem was talking to me, I started quickly going through them and slapping post-its with the department teachers' names to return them to.

     I also had other kids printing and checking books out, so it took me a few minutes, being distracted by multi-tasking, before my internal YUCK sensor started blaring. My hands were becoming coated in some kind of sticky film of grossness. I finally looked carefully at the lost-and-found textbooks, and realized they were all coated in the sticky film. It was sort of a dirty sludge, completely covering the front and back covers of ALL the textbooks that had been so kindly dropped into the library's return slot.

     I don't know if it was mold, or if something spilled all over them. For some reason, I picture the books sitting in a forgotten corner of the boys' locker room, slowly acquiring a layer of moist germs. I think this is most likely.

     I spent several frantic minutes digging in drawers for a bag large enough to hold all of them, then finally settled on a cardboard box, which I taped up very securely and labeled in bold black marker, "MOLDY TEXTBOOKS - TRASH" I don't want these books finding their way BACK to me, ever again.

     Then I washed my hands thoroughly, washed them AGAIN, and then used some hand sanitizer. But I still feel contaminated. 

NOTE: The textbooks were all old enough that none of them had the tracking barcodes we've been using for almost 3 years. One of them was from another school in the district, and yet another was from a completely different school district. So who knows how long they've been sitting... wherever. I'd love to offer a hearty FUCK YOU to the person who dumped them on ME.


     We get lots of calls from vendors trying to sell us books we can't afford. Nobody has any money right now, ESPECIALLY the school I work at, because we get no "special funding" whatsoever. But vendors don't back off, even when we let them know we haven't any money to spend.
     The Teacher Librarians used to have to take all those calls, since they were the ones who technically placed the orders. Which meant I (as a humble Library technician) was used to just passing the phone to the Librarian and not having to deal with the stupid vendors.
     Now that we have no site Librarians, I'm stuck with stupid vendor calls, and today I had a particularly awkward one.
     I've never pretended to be good on the phone. It is not one of my strengths. I HATE talking on the phone. When I answer the phone at work, I say, "Library," in a whaddyawant?! tone. My coworker friends have always made fun of me for it. They say things like, "No shit," or,"You are NOT a library. You are a human being," or they just imitate me saying "Library" in a drawling nasal tone that does NOT sound anything like me.
     When it is suggested that I try to nice things up a little by possibly adding, Good afternoon, or How can I help you, my response is, "I will not."
     I'm pretty sure I'm engaging and kind in person, though. Even solicitous.
     Anyway, this afternoon when I returned from lunch break, the phone rang. There was a lot of background noise because students were pouring into the library, which made it hard to hear. This is how the call went:

ME:  Library.

CALLER:  Hi, I'm _____ from _____ Publishing, and I (something unintelligible).

ME:  (Impatiently) What?!

CALLER:  Hi, I'm _____ from _____ Publishing, and (I wasn't paying attention and missed it).

ME:  Are you trying to sell me something? Because if you are you should know that we don't have any money, and even if we did you should really speak to the District Librarian.

CALLER:  Is there a number (unintelligible)?

ME:  Her phone number? I'm not sure what it is, actually, and I... Bye.

     I abruptly hung up the phone. What was THAT? I asked myself, puzzled by my own abrupt dismissal of the stupid vendor. Had I meant to hang up suddenly, like that? Was it a seizure? Then I realized I was probably just tired and didn't feel like explaining YET AGAIN our lack of funding, etc. I don't OWE these people anything.
     Was I lying when I said I didn't even have the number of the District Librarian? Not exactly. I think I do have it somewhere, but it would involve hunting around. Besides, the District Librarian's last name is unusual and difficult for people to spell, and I always end up having to repeat myself loudly about 10 times before they get it.
     Like I said, I don't owe these people anything.
     Good day, sir.

DISTRACTING AUTHOR PHOTO : R.L. Stine and his dark little friend

Duuude... Seriously?
          We just received the new issue of Writer's Digest, and on the back there's an ad for "ThrillerFest VII" in New York. The ad features headshots of some of the special guest authors, including Jack Higgins, Catherine Coulter, John Sandford, and... R.L. Stine. There are other authors pictured, but my eye was caught and assaulted cruelly by the little photo of Mr. Stine.
          Every time I run across a photo of him, I gasp and recoil, my horrified heart skipping a beat. Much the same way his books are supposed to affect his young readers, but I find it hard to believe they do, given the goofy joke-driven nature of his writing. If only he could capture in his writing the chilling terror of his looks.
          I know it's mean to call attention to his looks, but come on. He has made, and still continues to make, more money than I'll ever see in my life, and I KNOW he is aware of that thing on his forehead. He can well afford to have it REMOVED. Why does he suffer it to exist?! That goofy smirk and those bushy untamed brows would be disheartening enough, but to over-accessorize with that damned MOLE is just... Well, it's just poor taste, that's what it is. And I will not keep quiet about it.
          Titles like, "Say Cheese and Die" make my blood boil with rage, but that mole-topped bushy-browed smirk turns the boiling blood to LAVA in my veins. Mr. Stine, you go TOO FAR.