Last week a patron at the suburban library where I work spent five minutes telling a colleague all about why (and exactly how) she should use a water pic. This inspired me to log onto my favorite Facebook Librarian Hangout to ask: “What’s the oddest thing a library patron has ever said to you?”
Within a day, I had dozens of responses. Here’s a sampling:
A woman just asked me to help name her baby.
I’ve been asked how to make LSD.
Two recent topics? Coffee enemas and homemade cat food.
I had a lady ask where she could find a chastity belt. Another asked me where she could buy some weed. (I sent them both to the reference desk.)
A patron once told me that I couldn’t be Mexican because I’m not dark enough. WTF?
“You know what would make you a knockout? Lose weight!”
“You don’t look like a librarian. You should be wearing a shirtwaist dress. With horizontal stripes.”
Direct quote from one patron: “My man shaved down there… and I didn’t like it one bit. I like a natural man.” What?? (I work in an elementary school library.)
A patron once accused me of running a sex slave ring from the express computers.
A woman once asked if I had any hand-me-down clothes I could give her daughter, since we were both “big girls.”
One man, in a misguided attempt to flirt and/or make me uncomfortable, asked me where we keep the porn. With a straight face, I told him we keep it on the third floor. (It‘s a two story building.)
I was recently asked how to make an apple into a bong.
A patron once told me there was a cat in the ceiling. And she was right!
I can’t polish my nails at work anymore because one of our patrons has a fetish and begins giving me sex advice.
A patron once told me in a stage whisper about her alien abduction, complete with biological details I’d really rather not have heard.
One patron demanded that my boss fire me for putting a hex on her incarcerated son.
A patron who was grateful for the help I’d given her with a reference question advised me to keep my kitchen knives in the laundry hamper. “So if someone breaks into your house, they can’t use them to stab you.”
Recent unsolicited advice from a patron? “If your yard isn’t clean, the mourning doves won’t come.”
“I just had surgery! Want to see my scar?”
Because we librarians are courteous by nature, we can be counted on to respond to your oddball statements, remarks and requests with dignity and grace. My co-worker, for example, patiently endured that little water pic lecture rather shutting it down with, “What makes you think that my teeth are any of your business?”
Still, the next time you’re tempted to share your innermost thoughts about sex, God or teeth with your local librarian, do us all a favor. Think twice.
(Roz Warren is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR. This essay first appeared on Womens Voices For Change.)