Work Stories: Part Three: Pop!

Before I received a full time, permanent position at my current job, I briefly worked two part-time jobs at two different library systems. Working two part time jobs is more difficult than just working one full-time job because you have to juggle schedules and commutes. But since SFPL started hiring employees as permanent; I decided to work there again so I could finally have benefits.

Library interviews are typically frightening experiences. Usually there’s a long conference table with a row of interviewers facing you, as if it were a tribunal interrogation. The interviewers are instructed not to smile or nod in agreement to any responses. So for every question you see only blank stares and stone-like faces, it’s quite nerve wracking. The interview is also timed. I usually speed through the interview out of nervousness but the best thing to do is to take your time to respond, include relevant stories. Smiling despite the interviewer’s poker face and utilizing humor sometimes helps relieve the formality. One staff member confided that she sat in her car and cried afterwards, thinking that she didn’t get hired. It takes about a month or so to receive a job offer or a rejection.

My interview was especially awkward because I knew one of the panelists but I couldn’t remember his name. I’m notoriously terrible with names and a decade had passed since I left. We mutually recognized each other and smiled, it made the interview less intimidating. Returning to SFPL was like a class reunion. I contacted past coworker friends through email and caught up on life updates over lunch. It was sweet to feel welcomed back, like a homecoming. My coworker teased that I was SFPL’s prodigal daughter.

During my first week back, I was at the circulation desk when a distraught, middle-aged woman approached me. She whispered, “I’m using the computer over there, and the man sitting beside me is saying crazy things! He’s saying that he’s going to poop in his chair!”

“Oh no! Thanks for informing me!” I said and I hurriedly told my coworker, “A patron said a man sitting at the computer is saying he’s going to defecate!”

We both rushed to the computer area and saw a gruff looking, bearded, middle aged man. He looked like a combination of an ex-surfer, ex-lumberjack and an ex-UC Berkeley professor, covered in years of homelessness. He was extremely focused, typing furiously away on the keyboard.

“Is everything ok?” my coworker asked the man.

“Yup, fine,” the man said, then added, “Pop!”. while he continued typing rapidly. He was typing lines of seemingly random letters, without spaces or punctuation. He repeated, “Pop!” several times again.

“Thank you.”. “Everything’s ok.” my colleague said to me. “The patron isn’t going to do anything. He’s a regular. He’s here everyday to use the computers. He has Tourette’s Syndrome but he doesn’t bother anyone. He’s saying, Pop not Poop!”

His pop was like saying, *”I am groot.” It meant everything.

*Groot is a Marvel comic book character who can only say, “I am Groot”.


  1. Glad the interview went well.

    That gentleman with Tourette’s Syndrome reminds me of some of the people I encountered in the Public Library when I arrived in Calgary in 2016.

    Those whose lives took a turn and found themselves homeless.


    1. Hi Jeff, I was inspired to write this by your previous writing prompt but was worried that you wouldn’t like it. I’m glad you’re not offended.

      The patron had a rock star quality, I wondered what his back story was. After awhile his “Pop” was a part of the library. When he wasn’t there the place seemed almost too quiet.

      Liked by 1 person

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