Friday, May 12, 2006

Jiminy Christ!

The man with what I believed to be mild head wounds approached the front desk like an injured animal warily seeking human assistance. In a quiet, deeply skeptical tone, he whispered, "Your downtown branch was to fax me some microfilm printouts this morning."

This was all very mysterious. More than the head wounds, the use of our fax machine, which normally only transmits the security guards' complaints to their home office and a stream of odd fax spam advertising I didn't even know existed, for this purpose seemed rather odd. Also, to my knowledge, the last time anyone used microfilm was the late summer of 1963. Nobody else knew anything about this transmission, and he was the type of visitor who inspires other library employees to scatter in search of tasks that look as un-interruptable as possible. I had no such luxury. I was caught in his crosshairs like a helpless deer cornered in a shady glen.

"They assured me it would be here this morning."

Throughout our exchange I attempted numerous exhausting zen techniques to focus solely on his eyes and not the bizarre pattern of red, scabby scratch marks across his balding forehead. Whenever he glanced away for a second, I tried to reconnoiter the ravaged pate, but no ready explanation seemed apparent. He either went through a windshield a few weeks back and had just removed the bandages to let his wounds breathe or else his hair plug transplants were being violently rejected by his scalp.

I always despair of telling people like this that I just can't find the information they're looking for. It never ends there. These sorts of exchanges inevitably drag on for 30 to 45 minutes while my neck becomes sore from nodding along in agreement with whatever mad hypotheses they cook up for how this library could somehow lack the most recent Buenos Aires phone directory or the complete transcripts of Elvis's interviews with the ambassador from Alpha Centauri.

Out of desperation to finish this transaction as soon as possible before this gentleman's forehead exploded, I fished around my desk area, mainly just to satisfy him that I was ever vigilant in the search. Incidentally, each morning when I arrive and peruse my desk behind the front counter, I inevitably find odd archaeological remnants of the primitive beings who inhabited it before me. By that I mean, the crap that other employees carelessly left behind after I left the night before. Just this week in addition to the usual half-finished water bottles and computer repair tools, I discovered, in all seriousness, a used syringe. For the rest of the week I've been stealthily monitoring my co-workers for the unmistakeable signs of intravenous drug use or adult onset diabetes to no avail.

By some miracle, in a generic yellow inter-office envelope buried under somebody else's mis-routed mail I found the unmistakeable microfilm printouts this visitor had described. I didn't have time to completely peruse their contents before passing them along to our suddenly gleeful patron. In one of the oddest lingustic constructions I've ever heard, he exclaimed, "Jiminy Christ!" Then he quickly returned to his original stoic, secret-agent-in-an-ill-fitting-thrift-store- sport-coat demeanor. But "Jiminy Christ"? That's the gosh-damn weirdest combination of faux-obscenity and full-on curse I've ever heard!

The mysterious gentleman left me with one last utterance to ponder for the many hours until I was able to record it here for posterity. Before wandering off into the hazy morning clutching his precious informative cargo, he locked eyes with me and grimly pronounced, "This completes my collection."


Blogger Adjective Queen said...

It's going to drive me crazy. What collection was he completing? Did he find the last collectible card of the Psychedelic Republicans? Brokeback Mountain action figures? The He-Man reversible bedspread? What?

1:18 PM  
Blogger St. Fiacre said...

Those are probably scabs from meth use. Do a search for "Faces of Meth" and see if anything looks familiar. They have before and after pix of meth heads.

10:53 PM  

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