or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week – 5/2/10

   May 7th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Plastic bagI'm sorry to post this on Mother's Day weekend, because it is truly disgusting. Really, if you have a weak stomach, stop.

After helping out at the circulation desk, I was just leaving to go back to Reference when I heard a patron ask one of my coworkers,

Can I have a plastic bag?

I knew she wouldn't need my help for that, so I continued back on down to Reference. At the end of the night, I got the rest of the story.

After the circ person handed him a bag, he opened it and put in his dirty, dripping, reeking underwear (I'm using italics instead of being as graphic as the situation warrants). He then proceeded to tell her that he had a cheeseburger earlier in the day, which upset his stomach, and he didn't make it to our bathroom in time.

That's bad. But what's worse is this happened about 7:00 PM, and I saw this patron downstairs using a computer until about 8:30 PM - with his plastic bag right beside him.

I had no idea what was in it until we closed at 9:00 PM and the circ staff filled me in, but this is one patron I definitely would have asked to leave with his parcel had I known. I don't think we have a policy explicitly forbidding carrying body fluids and fecal matter around the library in a plastic bag, but oh yes, we would have that night.

Not that I wish this on our maintenance staff, but I cannot understand why the patron went to such lengths to keep his underwear - why not just leave everything in the bathroom? Wow.

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