Dealing with the crazies is a part of the job description that is never mentioned. I think this mostly refers to public libraries but I'm sure academic and other libraries get their fair share as well.
Today was a BIG TIME CRAZY PEOPLE day. Now while most of the time I write blog entries to make light of the situations that I witness and the crazy weird people I encounter, I try not to make fun of them too much. This crazy person was a little too crazy for my liking... it was kind of sad and I almost feel bad for writing about it.
There is a lady that we call Babushka Lady. She has been in a few times before. I can specifically remember helping her, but I don't remember what I was helping her with. I do remember that she was very disoriented and did not seem to be "all there" when I was helping her. Anyway, she came into the library today and sat down in the picture book room with all of her papers and suitcase and everything spread out. She was blocking access to the shelves and was harassing a teen volunteer. She was informed that she would need to move to a table so that patrons and staff could access the books and she became very upset. I believe she was even name calling out ASL (Adult Services Libarian). Now after she moved to a table she started saying that she was missing her cell phone. Then she said that someone stole her keys and ID and that she had no way to get home. ASL called the county mental services and was referred to an older adult services entity. She started getting more outrageous and yelling so ASL called our local police office.
Now, normally when we call the police we kind of get a brush off. The only time I had ever had the police interested in what I had to say was when I was sitting outside on my break and some guy walked up to me and asked me if I wanted to buy drugs. (Super classy right?). But this time when we called the police they were very very very helpful. Officer KO came and talked with her and listened to her stories and complaints. He then made the effort to find out her living situation, call county services and request that a mental health professional come down to evaluate her. AND he stayed for 1.5 hours until said mental health professional made it to the library. Above and beyond in my book.. but probably just his job. Anyways Babushka Lady's family friend came and picked her up. She has a history of mental illness as well as a history of outbursts at different libraries in our system. She apparently had an outburst in a local library about 2 weeks ago and refused to leave and when she finally did continued to yell and scream at the library staff and spit on another person who tried to calm her down.
Now for the story's sake it would have been fun to say that she was carried out of her dragging and screaming and in handcuffs. But she wasn't. She was really calm. She was really apologetic. Her friend came to pick her up right about the time that the mental health professional arrived but the mental health service is going to follow up with her so that's good.
Most of the crazies I deal with are funny crazy. Babushka Lady is sad crazy and sometimes it's hard to deal with the sad crazy.