Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I'm itching to tell this story

I stand on the front lines of a battleground in an intense biological war, and I have nothing to offer this library except blood, toil, tears, sweat, and a raging case of germ-o-phobia.

My basic training before undergoing this mission occurred on one of my first days at work here. I had occasion to clean up a little spill on the front counter, and I reached for one of the handy disinfectant wipes to do the dirty job. After lightly scrubbing an area not much larger than a postage stamp, I picked up the disinfectant wipe which now appeared as if I had dragged it through the industrial stew of an official EPA Superfund site. I just couldn't believe a lightly colored formica countertop could yield such a potent batch of otherwise invisible toxic waste.

After taking a good look around the front counter area, I noticed a massive proliferation of "instant hand sanitizer," and over the next few days I learned all the excellent reasons for employing it liberally. Apparently, not everybody treats library books as the holy, sacred objects I like to imagine them being. In fact, my extensive research indicates that many patrons employ them as coasters, doormats, replacement paper towels, ashtrays, and occasionally dinner placemats.

In other cases, people have oddly mistaken the trash can in front of our building, conveniently labeled "Trash Only," for our book drop. Someone must have been handing out free lollipops the day those books were accidentally deposited because they came out looking like an albino porcupine about to throw its sticky quills. As a result of incidents like these, I've nearly chemically removed the first several layers of skin on my hands with the obsessive use of the probably equally toxic "instant hand sanitizer," which I now notice is labelled "Professional Use Only."

Now the issue is our resident homeless gentleman's alleged case of head lice. In an uncomfortably graphic educational campaign, we've all been encouraged to read a handbook created in-house in regard to the identification and combat of this filthy menace from which I would have thought graduation from elementary school would de facto inoculate one. Such is the power of the written word that I've noticed myself and everyone else who reads this manual unconsciously itching their heads. In fact, I just did it after typing that last sentence. And I just did it again.

The anti-lice campaign may, however, be a ruse along the lines of nabbing Al Capone on tax evasion charges. The time seems to have come to find a civilized way to expel our resident foul-smelling homeless visitor, the one who peruses dozens of foreign language websites each day and carries on lengthy conversations with our Computer Fascist regarding the positive merits of McCarthyism and witch trials.

I'm certainly not saying I'll miss him. In fact, I've often thought about just buying him cab fare to the nearest truck stop and a ticket for one of the luxurious Roman baths therein. When it comes to combating nasty filth in the library, however, I'm just saying in some very unfortunate way that I honestly prefer hosting the stinky homeless guy to helping another brand of disinfecting campaign aimed removing allegedly offensive library materials.


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