I realize my posts are so sporadic, they do not justify a blog, but I am here to try to remedy this sad situation.
I’m still sort of recovering from a traumatic incident which I am hesitant to talk about. People often ask me what I do for a living and they seem either surprised or completely unsurprised when I mention that my day (or mostly night) job is at a library at a Major university. Much of the Major is quantity, with a quality minor.
Some of what I do involves driving through dense thickets of traffic, driving along expressways… past office parks, past the airport, past the DoubleTree Hotel and Extended Stay Americas, past the tollway oasis, past the mini and super and mega malls, past MIdas and Chipotle and Jamba Juice… almost to the periphery of Ikea … to arrive at my job in at a branch campus, to work in a library that nobody even knows exists, not even the administrative staff who work the reception desk. They let me use the water cooler, the microwave, use their plastic forks and knives and paper plates and napkins. refrigerator. Nobody asks any questions. It’s a perfect place to be when you’re not in the mood for being visible.
But it’s not as if I am doing nothing there. I’m actually busier than ever, I swear it’s true. Students and faculty and alumni and stray non-affilliated people out there are constantly chatting with me. They’re all quite chatty in their messages, both instant and text. It’s just they way they are, I suppose.
They always have questions, they need guidance. They think I know things that they do not and it is my duty to pretend. And I chat with them in this completely pretend voice. I can’t even impersonate it. They want me to tell them how to format an MLA citation for a letter from their cousin in the bibliographies of their literature reviews. (Fortunately, they do they know I am their cousin). They want me to give them historical data on personal consumption expenditures from 1977-1993. They want me to find personal accounts of women entrepreneurs who have survived cancer.
All of them are hungry for information. I share their hunger, but I cannot fulfill it. I am helplessly uninformed. I want to cry out to them and ask for forgiveness. But that voice inside me contorts into the pretend voice of pretend authority. It’s hard to live with myself, knowing that I am letting them down, or accidentally misleading them. It makes me sad to say these words.
A couple of days ago, someone kept appearing on IM to ask where they could find a journal or article on oral sex. They’d appear and then quickly disappear before I could answer… some of this due to the fact that I was (mis)handling six other questions at the same time. And some of this due to my sluggish feet, thinking on sluggish feet. And then they appeared for 5th time, when I was alone and no one else around in the chat room.
I guided him (it had to be a him) to the health sciences databases, but I was not sure he was following me. I demonstrated how to search for the correct subject heading for oral sex which, it turns out, is oral sex. And I showed him a sample search. Soon after, 6 other IMs appeared and I was distracted… when I returned to his IM, I noticed he had said, “Thanks bitch!” I was flummoxed and unnerved. I couldn’t tell if he was being sincere. Maybe I am a bitch and I was dismayed to admit it was not something I even considered.