Mr. Creeping Hands, Gum-Popping Granny and Crabby Newspaper Guy: Welcome To Your Local Library

By: Stewart Butterfield

At the library where I work, we have an incredibly challenging patron whose imperious demands, unpleasant attitude and relentless sense of entitlement annoy and depress us all so much that we’ve nicknamed her “Sunshine.”

(Never to her face of course. Only when we’re commiserating about our encounters with her behind her back.)

Giving difficult patrons funny nicknames is a “library thing.” Why? Library work can be stressful, and humor is a coping mechanism. Our job requires that we be gracious and helpful, no matter how unpleasant you are to us. But after you leave? That’s another story.

When I asked my fellow library workers to share some of the names they’ve given their most annoying and/or notable “customers” over the years, they came up with the following:

Captain Underpants (who doesn’t wear any…)

Gun Totin’ Granny (We’re an open carry state.)

Racist Mr. Magoo

Sir Wanksalot a.k.a. Mr. Happypants (because of his antics at our public internet computers.)

Crabby Newspaper Guy (he throws a fit if the daily paper isn’t waiting for him when he arrives)

The Cowboy (hat, vest and no shirt)

Chair Guy (He always carries around a folding chair)

Mr. Creeping Hands

Sleeping Beauty (He comes to the library to snooze. And snore.)

Diaper Man (Don’t ask…)

Pajamas man. (Self explanatory.)(No underwear, either.)

Angry Sam Waterston

Sad-faced Ron Weasley

Shouting Speakerphone Lady

The Weatherman (He phones each day to ask us to read him the weather forecast.)

Gum-popping Granny

The Wicked Bitch of the West (We’ve never seen her smile.)

Madame Pineapple (because she’s crazier than a fruit basket)

Prince Valium

Trump Wench

Mr. Dawdles (Always the last patron out the door, usually at least 5 minutes after we’re supposed to have closed.)

Has your local librarian given you a snarky nickname? It could be worse. The baddest apples usually get called by their full names, because we’ve had to write them up repeatedly. The fact that you have a nickname means that your antics may be challenging, but they aren’t (yet) illegal.

If you’re a tough library customer, perhaps your New Year’s Resolution can be to turn over a new leaf, so that when you come to the library in 2018, your librarian will actually be happy to see you instead of wanting to hide under her desk.

And if not? We’ve got a name for you.

(Roz Warren , who writes for everyone from the New York Times to the Funny Times, is the author of Our Bodies, Our Shelves: Library Humor  and Just Another Day At Your Local Public Library, both of which you should buy immediately.)


Share this Post:

8 thoughts on “Mr. Creeping Hands, Gum-Popping Granny and Crabby Newspaper Guy: Welcome To Your Local Library”

  1. Add to this list these:

    Internet Pornography Phil
    Loud Music Blasting In Headphones Kid
    Obnoxious, Loud High Schoolers Passing Through
    Skunk Fragrance Homeless Guy
    Feet Up On Chair (or table) Person Who Should Be At Home
    Rugrats Running Rampant
    and (yes, they do exist!) – Loud Voiced Librarian

  2. As a public library director, I am sad to see this blog post. Library patrons should be treated with respect both on the public floor and in the staff area. This seems to imply that all libraries celebrate mean-spirited or negative nicknames for patrons; this behavior would not be welcome in the library I lead. If staff aren’t given the tools and training they need to build and maintain positive relationships with their users, something is wrong. I want everyone to feel at home at their public library, but clearly the author of this post doesn’t care about that. It’s a disservice to the field to publish this.

  3. oh god, not at the public internet! :O

    There was one point when I was working at a longish temp job, and at one point there wasn’t a desk for me so I was using carrels with terminals in the company library. Not assigned or anything, just whatever was open. There was one time I sat down at a computer to find it full of pop-ups for dirty picture sites, and they were set up so that every time you tried to close one down, two or three more would pop up. I turned the computer off pretty fast but was wondering who the heck was looking at this stuff on a company computer!

    Funny post. I hope I’ve never done anything memorable enough to be nicknamed!

  4. I wonder what my Library nickname would be…LOL. Laughter and humor is a great anti-dote for anyone’s stress, but since library work can be stressful, I can certainly see the extra value in a healthy sense of humor.

Comments are closed.