I work at the circulation desk of a suburban library. I recently handed a patron's library card back to her after scanning it, but I lost my grip and basically ended up throwing it at her instead. "I'm so sorry!" I said. "I didn't mean to do that."
"Yes you did!" she said.
At first I thought she was just joking around but she was dead serious. She really believed that I'd deliberately thrown the card at her. She lit into me, then promised to write an angry letter to my boss and stormed out.
Flabbergasted and shaken, I logged on to my favorite Librarian Facebook hangout and asked: What's the weirdest thing a patron has accused you of doing?
I got quite a few responses:
One patron accused me of being "out to get her" because I told her that she couldn't use the computer because of her outstanding library fines. She got extremely hostile and wanted to "go outside and settle this."
A patron accused me of trying to kill him telepathically. Because I was Catholic.
I recently had a patron tell me that my face was wrong for working with children.
I am often accused of breaking the Internet.
I had a patron repeatedly accuse me of being "spiritually abusive." I still haven't figured that one out.
We have a patron who believes that I am "stealing her information" and sending it to Vladimir Putin.
I've had several patrons accuse me of hiding tax forms.
I was once accused of being in the Portuguese Mob. (I didn't even know that the Portuguese had a mob.)
I have been accused of being part of the Seth Myers clan of the Sea Pirate Mafia. I wish I were joking.
I was recently accused of being anti-Semitic. I'm a Jew.
I was accused of being racist when I wouldn't let a woman check out materials without her library card or any identification.
I've been accused of engaging in cyber espionage and electromagnetic warfare. We've got some serious conspiracy theorists here.
I've been accused of reading someone's thoughts. And then stealing them.
I had a little girl tell me that I wasn't real because I had the same name as her imaginary friend and her mother had told her that imaginary friends weren't real.
One of our patrons is convinced that I'm a CIA operative who is stalking her.
After I asked a member of the cleaning staff to stop leaving her dentures sitting on my desk, she "rebuked the Satan out of me."
A patron once threatened to kill me when I told him that he had to move his cell phone call out to the lobby.
A patron who believes that the government is run by Satanic Reptilian Vampires accused me of treason because I refused to help her overthrow them.
Yesterday a homeless man accused me of moving the toilet when I asked him to stop urinating on the floor.
I've been told that my whole staff has racist body language.
I was accused of "making children turn gay" because we have LGBT-supportive books in our junior room collection.
A woman demanded that I apologize to her son because my aura was too strong and it upset him.
A white woman who was making a ton of noise accused me, another white woman, of being racist when I asked her to quiet down.
We have a patron who has accused me of having it in for him and adding fines to his card.
A patron whose Internet I blocked lodged a formal complaint against me for interfering with his basic human right to watch pornography.
A patron once submitted a written formal complaint about me for "smiling too much." He said it wasn't professional.
It may be unprofessional for a librarian to smile, but by the time I was done reading these comments, I had a big grin on my face. The lesson? You just can't let the hotheads and the crazies get you down. Instead, you have to laugh. The important thing is that I wasn't alone. My fellow librarians always have my back. And just like that, I was back to loving my job.
But the next time I'm wrongly accused by a paranoid patron, I just might enlist my pals in the Seth Myers Clan of the Sea Pirates Mafia to steal her information and send it to Vladimir Putin.
(Roz Warren is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR. http://ow.ly/LpFgE.