Wednesday, June 15, 2011

how would you like a side of confrontation with that?

It started off a somewhat disappointing day.  We piled into the supercool minivan and headed to the Farmers' Market; it was opening day, and the short people just couldn't wait to get there.  The weather didn't cooperate, 55 degrees, windy, rain-ish.  There was asparagus and some really expensive strawberries.

Maybe next week.

We ran a few more errands and decided to visit the library.  It's been a REALLY long time since we've been there, thank God for multiple renewals, and the short people chattered and chirped as short people always do.  Except Elliott.  He's been a little on the shriek-y side lately, and I made a point of shushing him as I put the books in the return slot, while watching the top three make their way to the elevator, magic portal to the Children's Room.

I didn't want to put all of the library books in the return bin, we are using some for school, and they needed to be renewed.  While I was sorting and watching and returning and shushing, a man got up from his computer station and walked over to me.

Him:  Did you know your children are playing in the elevator?  He was sneering at me.

Me:  I did know that.  Thank you.  I continued to sort and watch and return and shush.

Him:  Your children are obnoxious.  Even my three year old knows to be quiet in a library.

Me:  Well.  Good for your kid.  And to be clear, I did not say that.  I thought it.

I'm not sure if it was the lack of response that flipped his switch, but the man WENT. OFF.  I can't remember what he said exactly, but he was up in my face and screaming about calling Child Protective Services and having my kids taken away.  

I was really scared.  Never in my adult life has a large man wanted to fight me in a library.  Or anywhere.  And also, nobody's really ever picked a fight with me before, which is good, because I think I'm kind of a chicken.  


I was also furious.  How dare he tell me I am an unfit mother because my kids talked in a library?  Who is he to call the authorities and report me?  He was being threatening and intimidating and a general crazy-ass jerk, and there were at least 25 people watching him rip me a new one.

I did a very, very bad thing.  People, I shouted in a library.  LOUDLY.

How about you practice a little bit of grace, hmmm???  Maybe a little kindness and understanding for a mama who is CLEARLY on top of things, and who does nothing but parent these small people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with NO.BREAK.EVER.  And how about you pull that stick out of your ass, sit down and leave me alone.

Oh dear... I did two bad things.  I shouted really loudly in a library, and I also shouted ASS in a library, in a very superty loud voice.

He continued on with his rant, and his promises to call CPS.   I happen to know the number, because I've called it before, so I shouted it to him.  Twice.  Maybe three times.  And I backed away from him.  His last comment was something about how that day was the last day I'd see my children.  

Really?  Tell them my name is Pamela Dayton, and I say BRING IT.

And then I threw up a little.  Thank God my children were playing in the elevator.

Not one of those 25 people said a word.  Not the library staff, not anybody.  Well, one of the library staff mouthed, "Sorry" to me.  But they did not remind him of the rules, they did not ask him to leave, they did not call him out for being a menacing bully.  Epic fail, library.  Epic.

Thank God that I am friends with the Children's Room librarians, and that one of them was there when I walked downstairs.  The director of the library came to the Children's Room to apologize to me for his behaviour, which was a nice thought, I guess, but really?  Not enough.  Not nearly enough. 

It is never alright to allow a bully to be a bully.  It doesn't matter if the bully is 5, 18, or a 40-something 6-foot-plus man weighing over 200 pounds.  It is not okay.



  1. Well I would write a letter to the Library... Unruly bullies of mamas should be ejected. I would have gotten his name and license plate.

  2. I'm shaking for you. How awful - and he's mentally ill, obviously, and I think he was the scariest part but probably the lingering-est part is how nobody else said anything. That seems somehow worse, that people just stood by. Maybe if they had said something things would have escalated and so they were doing the whole let this die down and he'll leave without shooting anybody thing, but STILL, it just seems as if someone should have at least quietly called the police or SOMETHING. Or threatened to. Or something. I'm sure you know this already, but this was him and not you, sweetheart. But yeah - a total bummer and it would have ruined my day and left me sick.

  3. I commented but not thru my google acct - hmmm....

  4. This is terrible. When bystanders do nothing, they are just as much a bully as the bully himself. Yes, someone should have dialed 911. I'm sorry no one did. If you know the name of the person, it isn't too late to file charges. You have 25+ witnesses to back you up and I'd make sure all of them were located.

  5. I am so sorry. It is amazing how a bully can cow every single adult in a room. Awful. Shouting in a library completely justified. (For you.)

  6. I second all of the above friends wise words of advice. But you already know how I feel about this sort of thing. I'm so so sorry that you had to go through it. xoxo, friend.
    Did the kids respond ok? How are they doing?

  7. Yikes. As a former public librarian, I can tell you that Crazies find the library just as welcoming and open as the non-Crazies. Ironic that he chose to raise his voice to chastise you about your children being loud. I personally have had my personal safety threatened on more than one occasion when I chose to take on the Crazies. And are you sure that the Director didn't say anything to him before or after she apologized to you?

  8. Ugh, I agree, Pamela, NOT OKAY. xo.

  9. That was awful. But bravo for you for yelling in a Library. I would do the same thing. With four little ones at my side too, I am way past being embarrassed to raise my voice. My 11 year old dies a little bit each time that I do that but he'll survive. I hope you've stopped shaking. m.

  10. Oh honey that is terrible. I am so sorry this had to happen to you. I am also really glad that you had someone there you could go to. Shame on the library staff. At the VERY least they could have gone to the office and discreetly called the police to have this man taken out. I mean really? Should we not be allowed to feel safe in a library? Bravo for shouting back. I would have wet my pants. Proud of you for standing your ground.

  11. Oooooh, I hope he's there next time I go in with my kids being kids. Fun times.

  12. i'm so sorry darlin'! you are amazing! i'm proud of you for saying anything at all b/c really--that is an overwhelmingly upsetting situation!

  13. oh gosh. that's just awful. so sorry you had to go through that :(

  14. WOW. Not ok. I'm glad you stuck up for yourself, but SHAME on those 25 bystanders!

    I would have kicked that guy in the sack.

  15. I am only assuming that nobody from the library spoke to Arnie, because after he went outside to place the All Important Phone Call, he returned to the computer he was using. (And also resumed his threatening body language toward me when I went upstairs to the main desk to pay a fine.)

    The general attitude toward him from library staff was the "Yep, that's Arnie" with a head shake. Like they're resigned to him being a bully and doing the wrong thing.

    NO. Kick him out. Just because the library is a public place does not mean everybody can utilize its services, especially when they are abusive to other patrons.

  16. The kids are fine. They were playing in the elevator (because I'm, well, irresponsible and stuff). They didn't realize there was a problem until I went from using the Bad Dog Voice to the I'mma Throw Down Voice. And when they realized I wasn't talking to them, they carried on.

  17. Lots of comments from me... but Blogger isn't letting me email you all back. So there.

    I'm really not interested in pressing charges, but I am quite interested in making sure the library has, and enforces, a policy regarding patron conduct.

    We were asked to leave the library last week because my son wasn't wearing a shirt (we stopped by on the way home from swimming and hadn't planned ahead), but this guy wasn't asked to leave after attacking me? That's not even right.

  18. That's a double face palm and a headsmack. His behavior is totally unacceptable, and borderline criminal.

    And you, my dear, are now on my hero's list :)

  19. So sorry you went through this. But kudos to you for standing up to that little jerk in the middle of the library!

  20. Libraries are scary places. They are the literary equivalent of highway rest stops. Anyone can go there and get all shitty. I'm so sorry that happened to you.


talk to me, people. because you know i get all giddy when you do.