Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Libraries, the anti-drug

Sooo...a walk through the public library can be an experience, not necessarily a spiritual one, but a guaranteed "special" experience every time. That's because anyone can go to the public library, including, and especially the "crazies".

Take example A. I went to the Salt Lake Public Library on Saturday to check out a great book on genetics and evolution for my class book report, "The Seven Daughters of Eve". While I was busy looking around the shelves and walking across sitting areas to figure out the placement of the dewey decimal system I heard a loud "Angie, Angie". That's not my name so I ignored it. It got louder, and kinda closer. Heavy breathing and fast footsteps followed up behind me. I swung around to see a man badly scarred, with a shaved head and a wild-eyed gaze saying "Angie, you are Angie".

"Nope"...

"Angie, that's...you look like Angie...(he gets softer) so, what's your name?".

Right, I've met mister scary-what's-his-angle a time or two before in my life. They usually hang out in front of Crossroads mall and beg for change, or can be seen getting arrested in front of the pawn shop.

"I'm not Angie".

"Oh, so what's your name?"

Uh-huh, I'm just going to tell you what my name is.

(I repeat) "I'm not Angie".

"Oh, so do you know a Steve or Karl?"

"I'm sure everyone does" I reply.

"You do? Oh, they say they know you, they're just right outside"....Hmmm.

"No, no, I don't know a Steve or Karl"...

"They're right over there" (he points in some ambiguous direction).

I give him a look that says "I'm not going with you anywhere, thanks". He then, again, asks for my name. I tell him I don't have one, turn around and continue my search. He didn't follow.

There was also the time a large, balding librarian wearing a tie-dye rainbow shirt and sweatpants (again at the Salt Lake City Library) approached me and told me I look like I might have a good voice and that I should join his band. Uh-huh. I told him I was moving to DC. Which was the truth, I was about to move there.

And it would be a shame if I didn't mention the time I saw the crazy man that dressed like Jesus and walked around downtown shaming people into giving him money. I saw him and a woman dressed as Mary walking around the Library (again, the one in Salt Lake). I remember thinking at the time how nice that was that they'd found each other and dressed the same. Little did I know they'd turn out to be Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, the couple who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart.

6 comments:

Scully said...

Wow, I go to the SLCPL on semi-regular basis and I have never had any one approach me. I have been trained to use the stairs, since those glass elevators (esp. in the summer) tend to keep the stench of poor hygiene about them. But other than having to weave around the weaving homeless, I've never had an issue. I must not look like Angie.

SJ said...

And the funny thing is I almost never go there. But sometimes it is an experience. I say if you want to feel good-looking (at least to homeless or strange men) the public library is bountiful with opportunities. (then again, maybe he did think I looked like Angie, or that other one really thought I "looked" like I had a good voice)

Abby the Librarian said...

I've had friends with similar experiences at SLCPL. Utah generally seems to have more crazies per capita than anywhere else it seems. Homeless people in libraries are a plague to public librarians everywhere and one of the reasons why I avoided working in public libraries.

I had only one wacky experience happen to me while I was working at the reference desk at BYU. A man came up to me and told me he was a high priest leader in his ward. He then preceeded to show me his temple recommend and asked if the Library of Congress had the endowment on the Internet. He wanted a copy of it. I made some half hearted searches and couldn't find it. I also was unendowed at the time and was getting really bad feelings about the situtaion. I finally told him to stop by the next day and talk to my boss. He came early the next morning and my boss somehow placated him and I never saw him again. Usually at BYU, our problem was people looking at porn using the library computers.

Esperanza said...

Scary! People like that are at the Provo Pub too, but probably not that bad.... Good call on not following the crazy man outside, not that I think you would have or anything! Also, I knew a guy who was p\bi-polar who thought he did see the Savior outside of temple square asking for money....maybe it was that same person, and he was only 1/2 as crazy as I thought he was! Wow. Good times.
So we are not going to the library to get dates this weekend huh? darn. jk.

mj said...

i seriously need to get me to a library. if it weren't for the fines i rack up . . . that is to say i do have concern for your personal safety, sj, but i trust you to be pretty smart. and tell good stories.

meanwhile this has nothing to do with anything but my students just wrote the most terrible literary analysis papers. ack. won't catch most of them dead in a library.

SJ said...

That was the crazy part (so to speak). EVERYONE had seen Brian David Mitchell walking around town and posing as Jesus. My little brother even talked to him after he asked him for money (that was my brother's way, he would even buy guy's like that food and stuff). Anyway, everyone had seen him and his lady friend around town and nobody had a clue that he was the guy who had Elizabeth Smart. I was on my internship in DC when the news broke and about jumped outta my skin when I saw the guy on tv. Crazy!