People’s U: Metaphorical Ornithology 101

MPOW has a system that assigns people to use computers. The other day, I was summoned by a frustrated-looking woman to assist her with it. She pointed to a user number assigned to a particular computer and told me "That's me, but it won't let me on!" I looked at her user number, which was a different string of digits from the one at which she was pointing as well as from every other number on the waiting list. "That must be someone else's number, which is why that computer won't allow you to log on" I informed her. "I don't see your number anywhere on this list. I'm not sure if you signed up earlier and got timed out, or what happened. I'm sorry, but you'll have to sign up again to get on a computer." "This crazy message keeps coming up when I try to enter my number, see!" she complained. It was the message asking if the person really wants to sign up for the computer waiting list. "Oh, that always comes up" I told her. "NO it doesn't. YOU PEOPLE are full of BULLSHIT!" she hissed at me and started to mutter angrily. Taken aback, I stared blankly a few seconds and then walked back to my workstation without bothering to dispense my "I can only help you once you've calmed down and stopped using abusive language" schtick. In my peripheral vision, I watched the woman fiddle angrily with the sign-up computer. Then she stomped towards my desk. She leaned across the desk and down towards my face. Her face was, like, a twisted mask of rage, about a foot from mine. She screamed at me "YOU ARE NOT GETTING THE INFORMATION... THAT I NEED!" then she stalked away with the luggage she had brought into the library, turning several times to scowl at me. So, yeah. But this story has an epilogue that makes it more interesting. I described this person to one of my coworkers in an attempt to determine whether she was the same person who had yelled at my coworker on the previous day. It turned out that she was not, BUT, based on my description, my coworker, a seasoned 20-something-year vet of this insitution, thought that she was actually a former "regular" who had once been arrested for attacking a judge. Several coworkers recalled the story, found by a staff member in a local paper a few years ago, of how she lunged over the bench to assail the presiding judge during the middle of a trial (not her own). The attacker went to jail, but eventually got out and resumed her library patronage. Eventually her attendance waned and she hasn't been seen in several years. I still don't know whether my unpleasant run-in was a true sighting. As with the ivory-billed woodpecker, I may never know.

  1. Working in an environment with a lot of people involved as well (I am a bank Teller), I feel your pain. But, atleast it’s not the worst that could have happened, she could have attacked you in a fit of rage that was similar to the rage that she-hulked her into the judge.

    S. H. Skuld
    October 20th, 2006 at 6:54 pm

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