In the public system I work for there are two branches, 1 that is located in a mall, and 1 that is a more traditional branch in the middle of town. This makes for two VERY different patron bases.
I’m stationed mainly in the one at the mall, here you get the more affluent side of town, more tech savvy population, which is nice, but this often comes with impatience and entitlement (not everybody just generally). Since it’s in a mall the whole vibe is customer service, customer service and often the whole thing ends up feeling like you work in a retail store anyways, bending over backwards to impatient and needy customers.
The second branch has a more laid back vibe, but here is where you get more traditional library feel, much of the population is older, we have more crime… Let me tell you about the coin box theft in another post.. But overall my favorite thing about working here is the weird comments and phone calls, so good.
Today I am covering because I’m desperate for money and I happen to get off early at the U on Wed. and Thurs. for the summer. It’s gone pretty good, I haven’t been at this branch for a solid 6 months, and I get to see some of my library folk that I don’t usually get to see, which is nice and I’m only here for 3 hours which is basically “stopping by”..But I had this interaction I just couldn’t put my finger on..
A well put together middle aged African American woman leaves the computer lab, approaches me at the desk swinging her purse down and asks in a semi-sarcastic tone:
“Do you think that every African American woman who comes in here with make up on is a prostitute?”
(In a very sweet and somewhat surprised voice I respond). NO! Why would you say that?
She jams her wallet into her purse, says “I’m observant” and leaves.
Now. I am confused. I ask my coworker, do you think she was mad at us? I don’t think so. Was there a man in the computer lab trying to pick her up? No, just one guy wearing headphones paying no mind. So now I’m left wondering…. But kind of glad I came tonight. People say the darndest things.