Cabinet of Curiousities

I visited the Midtown Manhattan Library today. Have you ever been there? Imagine a cross between a homeless shelter and a port-a-potty, with books, and there you have it. I guess that’s what happens when a New York City library stays open until 11pm. And quite unfortunately, I had to use the bathroom while I was there. Words can not even describe. After washing my hands, twice, I stood there (with dripping wet hands) staring at the door thinking, “I sure hope someone comes in here soon, because there is no way I’m touching that door.” (There were no paper products in sight and the door opened inwards – oh, the quandary!)

The library is huge, and I can say with little exaggeration that (on a Tuesday evening at least) it’s filled with semi to fully off-kilter (literally) individuals with whom sharing a crowded elevator begged the prayer, “Dear god, please don’t let this elevator get stuck. This man (who is accompanied by a cart overflowing with a trash bag) might actually pee on me (he’s, after all, peed on himself).”

My boyfriend told me that while I was on the second floor, he witnessed as he was waiting for me on the fifth floor, the elevator door open, and a woman fall out of it diagonally. When he told me the story, I said, “She fell, like actually fell, like to the ground?” Yup, and when my boyfriend tried to help her up, she replied in a proper British accent, “It’s just easier if I do it myself.” He helped her with her bag, and when she finally managed to stand up, she commented, “Well, that was dramatic!”

And that homeless man on the elevator, with the cart and the trash bag and the pee, he rode on our elevator because when the first elevator came and the door opened and the people inside took one look, they said, “No,” and didn’t let him in.

As we were standing in line to check out a book, my boyfriend says to me, “After seeing this library, I have a new awareness about library books.” “Because you figure at least one person has urinated on each and every book in circulation at the New York City public libraries?” “Yeah, they’ve got to be pretty dirty, but this one looks ok.”

I said to him, “So do you have to return that book back here or can you take it to our library?” “I don’t have to bring it back here, but I will. I think I’ll spend all day tomorrow here – I’ll have so many stories to tell!” “Ok, but be sure to burn the pants you’re wearing when you sit in one of these chairs before you come into the apartment.” “What are you CRAZY, I’m not going to SIT DOWN in here!”

And then we broke out the Purell.


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