No, I'm still crazy about the place. It's my new office. I'm still claiming it, one Dewey decimal at a time. But yesterday it seemed noisier than usual. I heard more moms telling their kids to "shut up." And the movie I wanted wasn't in. I guess that last one could happen at any library.
The most annoying thing that's occurred to me took place yesterday, when two tools tried out the old "can you give us some gas money?" routine. If my computer wasn't on my lap, I might have thrown them over the balcony. How much money can that scam really make people, anyway? It just can't be as lucrative as checking pay phones for quarters or placing "tiny classified ads" in newspapers. What idiots.
I've been the target of this Abbot and Costello routine at least five, and I think six times in the six years I've been in town, and the cultural anthropologist in me has noticed the following motifs for this particular example of alcoholic/crackhead folklore:
1. They need to get back to Indianapolis, Chicago, or the hospital.
2. They have been to the churches but they got turned away.
3. They went to the mission, but nothing could be done for them.
4. This is not a scam.
Some variations have included the claim that they had "just been jumped" and I could call the cops to confirm their story. Another claimed that he was our neighbor and "for gosh sakes, my wife walks our dog by here every day."
What's tough is keeping your cool and not throwing them off the balcony. I usually try to just turn into a robot that says "no" a lot with no inflection in my voice. I've thought about using humor, like saying "damn, I was just about to ask you for the same thing, man." Or maybe I could say "hey, you missed the part about getting turned away from the churches." But you never know what will set some people off. My brother says the next time he gets this, he's going to offer them some actual gas from his lawnmower can to see what they do. I need to think about this so I can be ready next time to do something more than the effective but dull "just say "no" plan.