Friday, March 29, 2013

The Closers

Some years back now, I read The Closers by hard-boiled mystery writer Michael Connelly. In it, the main character, Detective Harry Bosch, joins the LA Police Department's Open Unsolved Unit where they take up cold cases and try to, you know, close them. It got me to thinking: those of us who close at the library aren't all that different from The Closers. OK, there are some superficial differences, like we're just dweebs in a library and not cops with guns or skills or street smarts; they risk their lives and we just want to kick people out of a public building and go home already; they use their inductive reasoning (or maybe it's their deductive reasoning--I can never remember which is which) and we use the catalog. OK, there are absolutely no similarities whatsoever, but tonight I sure wished I at least had Harry Bosch's gun.

We had finally chased out all the last-minute video selectors, the diehard Internet enthusiasts and the inveterate bathroom campers and were about to head into the back to grab our things, set the alarm and flee out the back door. As we walked past, some guy was pounding on the front doors and hopping from foot to foot like a three-year-old child who needs to wee wee real bad. He was using a ring to really give the glass a good rap and waving the other hand high over his head in a way that suggested that he just might be drowning.

I don't mean to brag, but I'm quite adept at ignoring people like that. I might give them a little smile and wave as though I thought they were just being friendly as I pass by and I was responding in kind, but that's it. With the hopping, I was certain he was just after the restroom and there are plenty of gas stations in our zip code. One of my kind-hearted coworkers, however, went over to the door and tried to hear him out as he shouted into the glass. He didn't look frantic enough to look like an emergency case, so I was a little disappointed with her. It would have been different if she was new, but she's worked at deskslave central longer than I have (before it even had the catchy name "deskslave central," if you can believe it), so she should have known better. I couldn't hear what he was banging on about, so the dialog as it reached me sounded something like:

Coworker. What?
Mr. Wee Wee. Mrrrflwzznp!
Coworker. I'm sorry, we're closed!
Mr. Wee Wee. Graffenhable! Sibnatchilar!!
Coworker. But the machines are all off! We wouldn't be able to check you out!
Mr. Wee Wee. Carflid hammalacka!
Coworker. It should still be there tomorrow when we open!
Mr. Wee Wee. Scriggles lamanchritobs! Flapdaddle tromesculant!
Coworker. I can write down your name to make sure they don't. What's your name?
Mr. Wee Wee. Cataphract!
Coworker. I need the last name, too!
Mr. Wee Wee.  Dribblongen kistnatalosh! Torfold rimpnamber!
Coworker. Then I can't help you, I'm sorry!
Mr. Wee Wee. Jammiklon mimflrrgindoo?
Coworker. I can't let you do that!
Mr. Wee Wee (making dismissive gesture and walking away). Spimwab!

"What did he want?" I asked her.
"He wanted to pick up somebody else's hold. He didn't know the title, and he only knew the person's first name. He wanted to come in and scan the shelves to see if he could figure it out."
"Bet he didn't have a library card, either," another coworker speculated.

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