With the early arrival of winter in North Idaho, Monday found our library a touch busier than it has been as of late. Normally, I am happy with an uptick in patrons walking through the door, but yesterday I spent most of the day observing a phenomenon that has me wanting to bathe in a sodium hypochlorite solution followed by a dip in antibacterial wipe pool of disinfecting excellence.
I was processing a large stack of new juvenile books when a noise drew my attention to the left of me. The creature that approached sounded a lot like my pig does when it's snout deep in a trough full of fermented apple mash. The snorting and snuffling that emanated from the shuffling creature made my tissue reaching reflex quiver with need, and I found my form backing into the holds shelf behind the circ desk with potential mucus spray fear.
"Can I get a computer guest pass?" croaked out the creature as it coughed onto my keyboard.
It honestly sounded like the poor soul said, "Troll is wielding a battle axe," but then again I probably heard that because I was imaging the battle raging between the virus and that kid's immune system.
"But of course, that computer, way over there is open." I chirped in reply as I handed the Mucus Munchkin a guest pass.
"Thank you." he sniffled in return and coughed in my direction again, right near my freshly steeped cup of orange spice tea.
The tea went down the drain, my cup was scoured, and I attacked the circ desk with disinfectant wipes like I was a level five biohazard containment professional. I will win this, I declared to myself.
All around me there was a cacophony of sniffles and hacking. I sat perched in my lofty circ desk chair, involuntarily spasming every time someone expelled droplets of viral doom onto library surfaces. It was after school and my domain was under attack. The kids at the table next to my desk were filling out Dungeons and Dragons character sheets, a few girls were sitting in the back texting each other while they sat next to each other, and the Roblox brigade was a few missions deep into their daily fracas. On any other day it would be a normal back to school scene. However, this was the back to school, weather change, let the plague begin day.
One of the D and D pustules walked up to me. He was a big middle schooler of about 5'11" or so, I have known him for years. Even seated in my high circ chair, he looked me eye to eye. His left eye was all puffy and something shiny streamed out of his right nostril.
"Could you..." he began while pausing to sniff in the snail slime.
"Help you find a book on the wonders of Echinacea?" I replied as I proffered the tissue box I keep behind the circ desk.
"No," he coughed, "I have a page that needs to be printed."
Holy threat level RHINOVIRUS! That meant I had to touch items that this poor plague vector had touched. I took a fortifying sip of freshly brewed orange spice tea and said,
"Sure thing, let me grab that for you."
Remember, exemplary customer service is always required, even in the face of imminent immune system crushing doom.
I got his print, took his dime, and proceeded to scrub the Hades out of my hands, for the sixty-fourth time that day.
On and on the interactions went, "Can you find me a book?" HACK, "I can't log onto the computer." SNUFFLE, "Can I call my mom?" COUGH COUGH. It was horrifying.
Finally, I made it through to the end of the day. We closed up the library and I went home to enjoy a delightful dinner of tacos laden with the jalapenos I pickled last week. Can you say: MUY CALIENTE! I felt a bit tired, but honestly was satisfied by my preventative efforts, perhaps I wouldn't be struck down by the season change immune system onslaught after all.