Why didn’t they mention this in library school?

One of the favored topics of conversation among librarians is the things they don’t teach you in library school. Some people focus heavily on issues that require on the job training. I took a collections class in my masters degree, but it didn’t cover the actual process for deciding what to keep and what to donate to the book sale. That’s something you learn once you already have the title, usually because every library and system has a different process.

The other subheading of Things I Didn’t Learn in Library School is the batcrap crazy stuff we see in our line of work. When you go to nursing school, you expect to see a man with a shovel through his chest or a light bulb lodged somewhere light bulbs don’t go. As a police candidate, you know you’ll eventually master putting a drug addict into handcuffs, despite his being slippery with his own feces. As a library major, you… shop for cardigans.


There are some downright adorable surprises to being a librarian, such as the fact that we have a bird protocol at my branch. We have an actual procedure for what to do when a bird enters the library and can’t find it’s way out. I also wasn’t aware of the rising popularity of the Children Reading to Dogs program, until I started working in a library. Trained service dogs are brought into the library for little kids to read to, without criticism or correction. That’s right. My job includes puppies… which I’m reminding myself makes up for some of the more upsetting encounters.

Library school may stress the importance of serving the public without censorship, but it doesn’t prepare us for the number of mentally unstable homeless people and registered sex offenders we’ll encounter in a month. It also didn’t prepare me for the moment I’d find myself crying on the phone to a 911 dispatcher this morning.

The day started out normal. I was surprised things had been so quiet, considering I’ve called the police twice in my seven day stretch, having worked the weekend. I had just finished telling my coworker this and announced that I was going to do a walk-through to make sure that was correct. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

At the end of my walk-through, I had decided to use the public restroom, just in case another person was bathing naked in the sink. I thought I was alone, until I heard snoring. This isn’t normal behavior and my library has specific rules against prolonged sleeping in the library, so I knocked on the stall door… and then louder… and louder. Eventually, I was banging on the door and shouting. I went out to tell some coworkers that I wasn’t sure how to proceed. One of the circulation clerks followed me into the bathroom and repeated my actions. We decided the woman couldn’t possibly be asleep and must have passed out, so I called 911.

At this point, I had not wanted to open the stall door. I felt this would violate the customer’s privacy, but after calling me back on my cell phone, so they could direct me as to how I could help the customer, the 911 dispatcher insisted I open the door. I tried to wake the woman with a hand on her shoulder and she was unresponsive, though still snoring. The dispatcher told me to get her on her back to make sure she could breathe.

Me: “I just… she’s not wearing pants and I feel like moving her is a violation to her.”
Dispatcher: “You’re not violating her. You’re helping her. I promise.”
Me: “Okay… she’s coming awake now. Ma’am, are you alright?”
Me: “She has a syringe. There’s a tourniquet on her arm and she has a syringe in her hand.”
Dispatcher: “Is the syringe empty?”
Me: “I… don’t know? I think it has something black in it.”
Dispatcher: “Tell me, is she changing colors?”
Me: “I… I can’t tell. Her hands are swollen, but I don’t think she’s changing colors. She won’t wake up, but she seems to be breathing okay.”
Dispatcher: “It’s alright, you’re doing good. I’m going to stay on the phone with you until EMSA arrives.”
Me: “Okay. I… I don’t know what to do. I’m just holding her head up.”
Dispatcher: “Okay, if she’s breathing, then she’s alright. EMSA will be there soon.”

When she woke, the woman tried to insist she was diabetic. Apparently insulin isn’t black and doesn’t require a tourniquet. Heroine is and does.

I sat in the lobby, trying not to cry, as the police questioned the man who’d been with the woman. I hadn’t helped the customer sooner, out of concern for her privacy and my hesitancy to bother someone on the toilet. I’d held a half naked woman up on a public toilet, hoping it was a good sign that she was beginning to wake. I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t called 911, partially out of a desire to not see another woman naked. I’d cried to the dispatcher, frustrated with myself because managers aren’t supposed to lose it like that. It was my job to control my emotions and be cool in a crisis. It’s just… they didn’t teach me this stuff in library school!


The Time I Wasn’t Overreacting: Update on Stabby McStabberson

So last week, I had a pretty terrifying online dating experience… or at least I was pretty sure it qualified as one, when I wrote The Time I Almost Got Shankraped by Online Dating. Bee tea double ewe, the day someone slips “shankraped” into casual conversation or a presidential speech, you heard it here first, so you’re welcome.

As my original post indicated, I immediately called Gaily and told her everything. As is her way, she flipped the fuck out and started talking about protection orders and staying at her house for a little while.

I figured it was all good, though. I mean, surely he didn’t think I was interested after all of that awkwardness, right? Then I got a message on Plenty of Fish, after I deleted my OKCupid account.

05-01-15 1

“A little while back”?!?! Dude, this was two fucking days later!

Okay. So he didn’t understand it the first time. There’s no way he could’ve missed the point after that message. Until he did. Unfortunately, I don’t have that screenshot, because I was so freaked out that I immediately blocked him and the message was erased. It went a little something like this, though:

Stabby McStabberson: “Hey, I can’t read your message for some reason. Just text me and maybe we can get to know each other a little better.”

Shetland’s not Mayberry, y’all, but it’s not exactly Chicago either. I could see this guy anywhere, but most especially at my gym. So, I was literally shaking with fear… hence the typos when I responded.

05-01-15 2He “dropped the whole thing awhile ago.” I mean, sure I’d gotten that message, literally 20 minutes earlier, but that was “awhile ago.” I am soooo sorry, Stabby McStabberson, for making you uncomfortable. I’m aware that my response was aggressive and downright mean, but I was terrified and I wanted a response to clarify that he understood. I was way beyond letting him save face, at this point. Perhaps he was less crazy and just not that bright, but it’s also not like a dimwitted man can’t still skin me and wear me.

I tried to be polite and subtle. I tried to be polite and direct. Both attempts failed. So for now, it seems that Leatherface considers me a complete bitch, which is fine by me… as long as he doesn’t seek revenge. Keep an eye out for that news story, though.

The Time I Almost Got Shankraped by Online Dating

My dear blog has been and will be many things, including divorcée blog, grad student blog, librarian blog, humor blog, opinion blog, and dating blog. That last one has been recurring, and lately even prominent. I’ve shared tales of men who insulted my faith, my degree, my best friend… of men who lived with their mothers, stood me up, and who I wished had stood me up… and even of men who’ve been perfectly nice, but for some reason, it just wouldn’t have worked. Rarely, however, has it ever been my emphasis that I met a man online. I didn’t almost end up in Tupperware, because I met the first Engineer on Plenty of Fish. I just didn’t put two and two together and realize how sketchy it was that a man who claimed he didn’t own a TV would want to watch Arrow together at his place.

It’s not online dating’s fault. It’s dating’s fault. People be crazy (and others impossibly naive for 25), regardless of where you meet them. What can you do? The Peach Pit and Central Perk are closed and MacLaren’s was an inaccurate portrayal of the dating world for at least the last three seasons. Unless someone’s willing to take me for a joyride in their DeLorean at 88 miles per hour, this is where we are… ‘cept Wednesday. Wednesday, this is where I was.

It all started out innocently enough. I was at the gym, on the elliptical, reading some harmless vampire porn, when I heard something from behind me. I turned to see a man was talking to me.

Me: “I’m sorry?”
Stabby McStabberson: “Are you on OKCupid?”
Me: “Um… yeah.”
Stabby McStabberson: “I thought you looked familiar. I’m on there, too.”
Me: …
Stabby McStabberson: “Have you ever seen me on there?”
Me: “Um… no. I don’t think so.”
Stabby McStabberson: “Well, I’ve seen you.”
Me: “Okay. Sorry, I don’t think I remember you.”

Okay, first of all, I’m pretty open about the fact that I date online. I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of the stigma as long as my aunts are insisting they met their husbands at the cowboy bar. Even so, the first thought that went through my head when this guy shouted “OKCupid” over the noise of the fan was “SHHHHHH!” Second, what exactly was the purpose of this? Clearly he was interested, but “You date online, don’t you? I date online, too!” is not how you date in person. If you’re interested in someone you see online, you message them online. You don’t memorize their stats and accost them face to face! But… I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, I texted Gail about the exchange and returned to my vampire porn, refusing to let a little awkwardness interrupt my workout… until…

Stabby McStabberson: “So, can I introduce myself?”
Me: “What?”
Stabby McStabberson: “Can I introduce myself?”
Me: “Um… sure.”
– If you’re going to introduce yourself to a person, you just do it. You don’t ask permission. Furthermore, if they’re as bad at hiding their discomfort with you doing so as I am, you keep it brief. –
Stabby McStabberson: “Hi. I’m Matt.”
Me: “Hi.”
Stabby McStabberson: “What’s your name?”
Me: “Belle.”
– Why did I tell him my name? Am I exaggerating this? I am intensely uncomfortable. Is this unfounded? –
Stabby McStabberson: “Belle. That’s a pretty name. Do you come here often?”
– To the gym, which requires a membership? –
Me: “Yeah. I have a membership.”
Stabby McStabberson: “Yeah, me too. I pay monthly. I’ve seen you here, before.”
– Oh, that… doesn’t make this better. –
Me: “… oh.”
Stabby McStabberson: “So, have you met anyone on OKCupid?”
– Does he mean am I available? Should I tell him I have a boyfriend? No. I’m overreacting. I am not going to fake a boyfriend. –
Me: “Yeah. I’ve met a few people.”
Stabby McStabberson: “Oh. Your screen name is UniversityLibrarian, isn’t it?”
– Oh, this just got so much worse. That hasn’t been my screen name for months and he remembers it. I should’ve left. –
Me: “Um… something like that.”
Stabby McStabberson: “You have a master’s degree.”
– AND YOU HAVE A HUMAN HEAD IN YOUR TRUNK! This is the worst thing. I’m going to be on the news, a cautionary tale for all young women who date online. –
Me: “Um… yeah. I do.”
Stabby McStabberson: “I’m getting my associate’s. I wanna be a youth pastor or a helper or something.”
– Wait. A “helper”? That takes an associate’s degree? Why hasn’t he figured out what he’s doing for a living? He’s at least 30… NOT THE FUCKING POINT, BELLE! –
Stabby McStabberson: “So are you still active on there?”
– How does he not see that I am visibly afraid of him? I am not even trying to hide it. –
Me: “Nope. Not lately.”
Stabby McStabberson: “Oh. Did you meet someone?”
– Fuck, yes. I most definitely met someone. –
Me: “Yup. I’ve been talking to someone for awhile, now.”
Stabby McStabberson: “Oh. Okay. Well, good luck.”

04-23-15 1

Gail: “Next time: ‘Are you on OKCupid?’ ‘No.'”

The Tornado Diaries: Where I Giggle About Something Terrifying

A Southern toddler could tell you exactly what the appropriate procedures are for a tornado warning. A Southern eight-year-old could tell you exactly how no adults ever actually follow said procedures. All non-Southerners think one late night viewing of Twister qualifies them to say “You know a tornado’s coming. Get underground!” Umm… no. We don’t. We know a tornado might come… sometime this spring or summer or maybe in the fall. There will be more tornado warnings this Tuesday and Wednesday, just as there were all last week… encompassing a third of the state. A tornado did not hit a third of the state. The sirens go off all the friggin’ time… and nothing happens. We can’t live our lives underground five months out of the year. This ain’t District 13, folks. We have to watch the news, wait, and determine whether or not it’s safe to get on the roads to seek shelter, because we don’t all have underground facilities, especially those of us in apartments. So this is what a real tornado experience looks like through the eyes of someone who jokes about everything, including those things that are scary as fuck.

Shetland: I gave my hometown a real name. This is the town I’ve lived in for the majority of my life.
Springfield: About 10 minutes north of Shetland, often merged with Shetland.
Fairview: About 20 minutes west of Springfield. I lived in a motel in this lower-income town for a few months when I was married. I hated it.

A Southern spring night.

My best Facebook posts of Friday night and Saturday morning:

Scariest thought of the night: “That mattress is really wedged in there. Am I trapped in the bathtub?”

I can’t sleep without a fan blowing. There’s sauce all over my kitchen from using a hammer to open a can of Spaghetti O’s. My Kindle battery is draining. I am so over this Laura Ingles $#^+.

I would not even care about the zombies in The Walking Dead. Those people have no electricity. EVER.

Wait. What is all over the kitchen? Oh, yeah. Spaghetti O’s. Hammer.

Textersation With Gail Friday Night
Gail: Watch the weather.
Gail knows I don’t watch the weather unless someone calls or texts that I’m about to die.
Me: Rory Gilmore would be 30 next year.
Even then, I may or may not take it seriously. I just assume we’re under tornado watch March through October.
Gail: Turn on the weather if you haven’t yet and get to a house instead of your place.
Me: Why?
Gail: Very bad storm in Fairview.
Me: I’m not in Fairview.
Gail: Heading east, as tornadoes do.
Me: I’m not east of Fairview.
Gail: Well, I meant so that if one occurs here, as they’re warning is likely, you don’t die.
Ugh. Here goes Gail again. This is just like the time she claimed that guy I met online wanted to “show me his hatchet”. He just wanted to watch Arrow. So, he didn’t have a T.V. That doesn’t mean anything. So fucking paranoid. – I called my dad, who works for the electric company and is therefore in the know. Then I called my Gramma, who along with Gail, works for the fabricate-shit-to-fear company.
Me: Everyone else said it’s not coming here.
Gail: Yeah, the current tornado isn’t. The storm is still developing. Channel 4 just said “If you’re in Springfield, take shelter now.”
Me: Ah. Cherokees blessed the town. I’ll be fine.
Me: I’m not in Springfield.
We have a heavy concentration of Native Americans in this state and a heavier concentration of ignorant, rich, white kids in Shetland. Last spring, while substituting under another tornado watch, I had a fifteen-year-old boy assure the class that we were fine, because Cherokee Indians blessed the town a hundred years ago. I tried to explain that’s bordering racist and also isn’t how weather works, but the class seemed calmed by the idea, so I left it alone. 
Gail:*shrug* suit yourself. If you ever die of Belle-related causes, I’m letting your mother dress your corpse for the funeral.
tweety funeral

That is exactly what that would look like, because to my undiagnosed/secretly diagnosed mentally ill mother, I’m frozen at age 11.

Gail: “This is a major tornado. It’s making a hard right and turning toward Shetland.”
I had actually heard this on the news and was headed toward my Gramma’s house, but admitting that was acknowledging my own fear, which is an emotion, so ew.
Me: *Picture of Cherokee* – Couldn’t find one. Typed the words.
Me: My grandparents left to “outrun it.” I don’t know what to do, but I didn’t go with them.
A drunken Southern child (that’s probably a thing) could tell you this is a stupid idea. You cannot “outrun” a fucking tornado, particularly with 2,000 other people on the road doing the exact same thing, because an idiotic weatherman told everyone to “head south.”
Gail: It turned toward Springfield. He said if you’re in Springfield, go south. Right now it’s headed down the highway.
Me: You might want to pray for me. No. Pray for my Gramma and my stupid grandpa, who decided they could outrun a tornado.
I didn’t tell Gail that I was on the road at this point, and would likely die if the tornado hit Shetland, because I was stuck in traffic. It wouldn’t have helped and where do we keep our emotions, y’all? That’s right. With the last fucking horcrux.
Gail: You shouldn’t have gone. You did the right thing. Now it’s more likely to hit my empty duplex, but now it’s just a circulating cloud. It’s off the ground.
Me: Shetland is fucking anarchy. People are driving on the shoulder and all over the roads. Police and ambulance sirens are constant.
Gail: It’s back on the highway. It destroyed one of the storm chaser vehicles. That’s why they thought it ended – they lost contact. Springfield and north Shetland. You’re probably okay by now.
Me: Yeah, the power outage is the biggest deal. It’s freaky quiet.
Gail: NO! There’s another similar storm right behind it.
Me: Fuck this. Wanna move to Colorado with me?
Where there is no bad weather.
Gail: They think another tornado is forming in southern Fairview.
Me: Knew I hated that place. The sirens are steady now. It’s eerie.
Gail: Yes. Looks like a small tornado is by my place. Figures I’d lose everything.
Me: Least you KNOW Terry didn’t do it. I hope no one finds my vibrators in the rubble.
dog with vibrator
Me: I love you.
Gail: I love you, too. Are you okay? Where are you?
Me: I’m good. I’m home. Is your place intact?
Gail: I have no clue. I’m at my parents.
Me: Bad things don’t happen, Gail.
Just sayin’.
Gail: There are overturned cars and injuries in Shetland. The Cherokees could improve their aim.
Gail’s a little racist.
Me: Holy shit, there’s a telephone pole across the street in front of Wal-Mart!
Gail: Told you. Go inside!
Me: Ummm.. I did something stupid instead.
Gail: Do you have a flat tire? Dammit, Belle! You know there are nails everywhere!
You know, I grew up here. I should’ve known there were nails everywhere, but it totally didn’t occur to me. Neither did the fact that I practically drive a low-rider hatchback and it had been raining heavily for hours.
flash flood
Me: Okay. Home.
Gail: Thank you.
I immediately left to grab ice from the gas station, though it was still pouring, there were down power lines everywhere, and the gas station was clearly closed… until they saw me driving away with their ice and started shining a flashlight through the window.
Me: So, Shetland is SUPER flooded right now.
Gail: Yeah, gotta conserve phone battery though, so please no more texting unless it’s pretty important. Sorry. 😦
Me: One last one. How much trouble can I get into for stealing two bags of ice from the gas station when they didn’t see my plates and I’ll totally pay for them when they’re open?
For realz, I had to keep talking myself down from a panic every time I saw red and blues (which was often) outside my window, because I was certain they were coming for me for looting $3 worth of ice, for which I did eventually pay. You know, because they didn’t have bigger shit on their minds.


When I woke the next morning, I realized I still didn’t have power and wasn’t surprised at my three hours of sleep. Seriously, if the power flickers and the fan goes off briefly, I will wake up. I texted my dad since there were reports I might not have electricity for days. Keep in mind, my dad works for the electric company. It’s gonna be a busy week and that started Friday night.

Me: Can I store some food in your freezer and stay with you until I have electricity?
Dad: Sure. You can have the front room.
Me: Thanks! I’ll be totally unobtrusive.
Me: I’m at your place with a flat tire.

What was that about nails, Gail?