Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bum among the books

Another day, another story about the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library!

Yesterday near the entrance to the Children's Department I was hit up by a panhandler. It was this woman who was waving a cell phone and saying it didn't work and she needed change for a dollar. That was what I understood her to say anyway. Change for a dollar is a reasonable request and I always have a million coins.

But when I looked in my wallet I had only a quarter there. The rest of the coins must have fallen to the bottom of my purse. They do that sometimes.

"Do you have a dollar bill?" the woman asked. "That would work."

That was when I realized she was not looking for change for a dollar. She was looking for a dollar.

I said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I don't."

Then I walked away briskly.

This is what we are coming to now, panhandlers in the library. This is what happens when you've got a cafe sitting right there in the middle of everything and noise everywhere and no order.

Notice, too, that every loser in the world has a cell phone? Or, even more often, an iPhone. When I got my iPhone it was this big luxury I was not sure I should shell out for. Now I see every bum on the street has one. To be honest this is starting to bother me.

From the panhandler I proceeded to the music department. I like to go to the section where they have books on pianists and conductors. I like to look in them for references to Leonard Pennario. There never are any! I sneer at these books and put them back on the shelves and that can be very relaxing in the middle of a hectic day.

Even in the music department, though, I could not relax. That was because there was this noise coming from a distance away. It was a kind of loud, snoring noise. Almost like a machine, though I could not think what machine it could be.

Finally when I was going to leave, I walked around the shelf and in the direction of this noise. I had to see where it was coming from.

And what it was, it was coming from a human being. I never got a good look at the actual person because I did not want to stare or get too involved. But all I could picture was Howard's cousin Ron Moss.

Incredibly, a library staffer had approached the offender and was doing something to shush him.

"You're making too much noise," he said.

Naturally some do-gooder woman then reprimands the staffer. "He can't help it," she tried telling him.

The staffer, happily, mouths back to her. "Yes, he can," he said. "He doesn't realize he's doing it but sometimes if you can call his attention to it he can stop for a little while."

I love this staffer! I cannot believe anyone but me cares about noise in the library.

My sister does not care. We got into an argument about that at Easter. She comes in with her kids from East Aurora. It is quiet in East Aurora and they do not live with boom cars and swear words and other annoyances like the ones we have in Buffalo. So the annoyances are fun and exotic for them and when they come in to the Buffalo library they enjoy it the way they enjoy going to the zoo.

"I like that it's so busy," she says.

Fine, you can have that panhandler to work the sidewalk in front of your quaint Vidler's General Store.

We can put that snoring man in the East Aurora library.

Then you can repeat 100 times: "This is cute. I like this."

C'mon, how about it?


Jim Corbran said...

I was at "The Libe" (as my kids always called it) in the Grosvenor Room the other day, doing some microfilm-ish research for a possible book idea, when I heard a commotion at the other end of the room. Security, police, and a couple of EMTs were trying to persuade an elderly gentleman onto a gurney. I couldn't tell what his problem was, but after 20 minutes or so they all gave up and left. About 15 minutes later some guy sits at the machine next to mine; I turn and look, and it's the same elderly gentleman. Not wanting to be in the middle of the next ruckus, I decided it was a good time to leave. I didn't notice though, if he had a cell phone! But he did have an "aura."

Prof. G said...

That's what comes from that old crank Carnegie and his bright idea of free public libraries...

Larry said...

Around here, there are "Quiet" signs in the libraries and noise makers are escorted out.

Michael Beebe said...

Mary, I got hit up by the same old lady. Was she missing half her teeth? She asked, do you have change for a dollar. Me, the kind-hearted dope, said, let me check. Nope, I only have 75 cents. She says, that will do, I have to make a phone call. She takes the money and walks away. Hey, what about my dollar bill, I ask. She says Oh, it was Canadian and I lost it. Lady's got a good scam.

Becky said...

Until I was in a meeting room at the Central Library for a work related all day training session I hadn't realized how many apparently homeless people hung out there all day long. Main & Court is another increasingly popular gathering spot.

Mary Kunz Goldman said...

Oh no, I missed all these comments months ago and they are so much fun! I am going to start saying "The Libe."