7.19.2004

We get all kinds of interesting people where I work. Public service facilities just attract them. The public library I work at is just down the street from a homeless shelter and not far from a mental hospital, so it's possible we get even more than our share of crazies. Many of them are regulars that we know by name.

There is The Conspiracy Theorist, a thirty-something guy who probably has Down's Syndrome. He's about 5'3" and weighs a good 200 pounds. He considers himself a serious scholar and truth-seeker in a world full of automatons blinded to the conspiracies all around them. His mission in life is to prove that Lee Harvey Oswald was framed, but he doesn't mind delving into side projects such as mysterious comets on a collision course with the earth and the secret world of the Illuminati.

His significantly less-able counterpart is another large thirty-something man who passionately fears that every bad thing that could possibly happen in the world WILL happen to him and/or California, and very, very soon. I think of him as The Doomsday Evangelist. He can't read or write, so he frequently approaches library personnel with sundry scraps of paper and the request that we write out his messages for him. These he photocopies by the dozens and posts around town. They typically say something like "Using too much electricity. Lights gonna go out. What you gonna do about it?"

My personal nemesis remains the Farting Bastard. He looks like he gained too much weight and his skin didn't stretch enough to accommodate it. On many of his trips to the library, he seems beset by some curious illness that causes perpetual audible flatulence. So frequent and well-timed are these blasts that I have come to the conclusion that it is exhibitionistic in nature and he derives some sort of gratification from seeing other peoples' discomfort. In addition to being remarkably annoying, this man genuinely scares me, because there seems to be something sinister lurking beneath the surface creepiness of his taut, shiny skin and beady eyes.

I started this entry intending to tell about an encounter with one odd woman today, but in order to tell her story I needed to describe The Conspiracy Theorist and then I got carried away. My appologies. What I really wanted to talk about is Opie.

I first met her Thursday. At first glance she seemed fairly normal apart from the strange get-up she had on (a tight athletic racerback top with very short, very tight matching shorts and pink cowboy boots). That alone, however, was not enough to cause me to suspect much, since the Bay Area is home to many innovative fashionistas. She was quite chatty with several people in the room, but I just figured they were old friends. Until she crawled under the table and laid down on her stomach for no apparent reason. I asked her if there was a problem and she answered, "No" in a perfectly normal tone of voice and got back in her seat.

The best part was watching her try to engage The Conspiracy Theorist in Conversation, while he tried to ignore her. The security guard and I recieved unholy satisfaction from seeing the tables turned on him for once. Usually it is him who has cornered some poor soul to expound on his pet subject, the inflitration of the Illuminati into every part of American and European society.

On Friday, a coworker reported that Opie refused to speak to the reference librarians to ask for help, kept talking about "Happy Days," and Ron Howard, and repeated "Quiet on the set!" a number of times.

Saturday, she returned. I had my fingers crossed that her computer use time would pass without incident, but of course, that was not about to happen. She had been busy searching the internet for quite sometime when I noticed a lady wearing a neck brace at the next computer to her lean over and say something. Opie said something back and I started over to see what was up. Nothing good could come of this, for sure.
The poor neck brace lady tried to tell Opie to quit reading out loud because it was disturbing, but Opie started gesturing in mock sign language and saying "I can't hear you! You'll have to write it down!" Neck Brace wrote out "Disturbing! Don't read out loud" on a piece of paper.

Then Opie said, "Can I have that? Will you sign and date it?"
Neck Brace Lady: "No, I need to keep this paper."
Opie: "I can't hear you! I'm deaf. You'll have to write it down!"
Me: "Opie, you need to be quiet and not disturb other people."
Opie: "I can't hear you! You'll have to write it down!"
Me: "Yes, you can hear me. I've talked to you before."
Opie: "I can't hear you! You'll have to write it down!"
Me: "If you can't be quiet, I will have to call the security guard and you will be asked to leave."
Opie: "I can't hear you! Write it down!"
Me: "Yes you can. You weren't even looking at me just then, so how did you know I was talking?"
Opie (still "signing"): "I can't hear you! You'll have to write it down! I'm deaf"

I felt like yelling "Read my lips: SHUT UP!" But of course we can't do that.

Comments:
You have a such vivid way of describing the people you encounter all day. I quite enjoy it :)
 
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