Thursday, April 20, 2017

haunted house? nope, just puppies.

Today, when one of my favorite patrons approached the desk, I put on my just-enjoy-the-ride attitude and braced myself for the exhausting foreign coin routine that I knew had to happen before I could help him.  

Yes, this is the same patron who has thrown coins in the past.

It happens every time I help him and nothing I say deters him.  When he walks up to the desk he always begins the interaction by reaching into one of his pockets and grabbing a handful of coins. 

Then he asks if I want one, and when I say no, he looks around (hopefully to make sure no one is in the way) and throws one into the air.  This is followed by an enthusiastic declaration that whoever finds it can keep it/is lucky/will have a blessed day.  

I make a mental note of where the coin rolls so that I can pick it up later and cheerfully ask him if I can help him find anything.  He always reaches to shake my hand as he tells me what a treasure the library is, and that there are no finer people than those who work at the library.  He then inquires about a particular section or book and happily wanders to wherever I point.  A few times he's asked for hard-to-find sections, and I've attempted to walk him to the stacks, but he always says he can find it on his own.  

This same routine has happened almost weekly for nearly a year, and it rarely ever changes.  He's really quite charming and eccentric and always gracious and positive, though sometimes a little loud in his positivity.  Personality wise, he's a little like a dilapidated Victorian mansion that's rumored to be haunted, but once you open the door you find nothing but puppies.  

Today, he had a list of sections he wanted to look at, so when I told him I would walk through the stacks with him, he was more than happy for the help. On the way to the stacks we passed a group of people, who looked at us curiously (when you have dozens of coins in your pockets you make a fair amount of noise), and quite to my surprise, the gentleman gestured to me and loudly proclaimed, "this is my granddaughter. You can tell because she's got my dashing good looks."  Thankfully I maintained my composure and kept walking. Silence is sometimes the best response.

When we reached the first section on the list, he pulled an ancient voice recorder out of one of his pockets and repeated the call number I gave him. He did this with each section, and every time he recorded a call number, he always played it back. So by the time he played the recorder back at the end of the list it sounded like, "baseball 796.357, WWII 940.53, New Yorker comics 741.5973," and so on.  It made me wonder how often he relied on it, and if it made any sense to him when he played it back.

After helping him, I turned to walk away, and hopefully find the coin that had rolled beneath the copier.  He looked up from the book he was browsing and said, "I hope someone is as kind to you as you were to me today." 

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