You may or may not know this, but every day that I go to work at the library, I draw a portrait of a patron.

Usually, I draw the most obnoxious or demanding person I’ve encountered in a given day, or failing that, a particularly memorable person. As the library is located in a rural area with old time mountain folk mixed with the yuppies who have moved into the developments that exist where forest used to be, we get a good cross section of humanity.

Of course, I’ve made this gallery of human failures and wonders a secret, and only my closest friends can see it. I mean, until I leave this job – then it’s getting published. Anyhow, we have a patron who comes in almost every day.


He’s been coming in for years, and while I have multiple stories of him getting into altercations with other patrons, creating as much noise as he possibly can when he sneezes (which he sometimes fakes just for attention), and the time that he developed a ‘fear of books’ to explain why he didn’t return a whole bunch of biographies he took out until a year later, one memorable story happened the other day.

See, this guy couldn’t get into his car – not because it was locked with the keys inside but because he ‘gave some Muslim a ride’ somewhere. Said ‘Muslim’ was allegedly wearing some kind of oil or something which Patron was severely allergic to and ended up in the ER with very bad symptoms of something-or-other. As a result, he was convinced that he could never get into his car again and had to sell it. It remained in the parking lot of the library for a week or two as I helped him list it on Craigslist. I even helped him get the mileage off of the odometer because he was so terrified to stick his head into the car. Granted, the car smelled like a sweaty guy who smoked cigars too much, but to each their own allergies. I’m willing to suspend disbelief, if only because it takes too much energy to refute something so pointless. It became pretty obvious that racism was creating more of an intense psychological reaction than any actual substance was.

On Tuesday, he asks me for a ride to the place where he works. It’s right up the hill from the library and I go to that area anyway to buy lunch every other day.

Now, I know that signing on to do anything for or with Patron will be an adventure of weirdly epic proportions, but I’m ready for anything. So, I agree.

At 2PM, when I usually go for lunch, he suddenly wants a ride to his apartment too. Fine. It’s in another direction, but it’s also nearby. As my brand new car fills with sweaty cigar man smell, I realize that he’s the second person I’ve ever actually given a ride in my car anywhere, and I hope that he doesn’t leave anything behind that forces me to sell it. You know, ‘like a Muslim’.

As we finally depart from his apartment to the workplace, he’s screaming in my ear. His talking voice is a bellow, and my car is small, and I’m twitching and trying to keep both eyes on the road. He screams for the entire ride.

“Nothing against Muslims, but I would kill ‘em all!” he says. “This county was a lot better before they got here!”

I’m not about to start a sociopolitical debate in my new car. He’s gesticulating and every so often, brushing against my bare arm. It can’t be accidental. I don’t know anyone who tries to drive their racist point home with a gentle caress, but it wouldn’t the strangest thing he’s done.

“You know what I do? I KILL people with KINDNESS! You know what I’m saying? I KILL THEM. With KINDNESS,” he says.  He repeats this, literally, about a dozen times, obviously impressed with his own words. “That way, no one can be mad at me and I can get them to do stuff for me later,” he says to the guy who’s giving him a ride to the place where he works so he doesn’t lose his 3rd job in a row. Granted, he’s gregarious and friendly in a very gruff, forceful manner, but it’s wearying to everyone around him. I smile and nod. There’s too many things to argue against, and at this point, the adventure has already paid for itself in human weirdness. But it didn’t end there.

He complained that his best friend was too cheap, that the world was falling apart, that he didn’t want to sell his car, that people were jerks sometimes if they refused to be raped and slaughtered by his obvious kindness and do his bidding.

I dropped him off in front of his place of work, and he said that he wanted to give me a few bucks for a soda. I declined, but he insisted. Instead of giving me a few bucks, he wanted me to come and find him inside, get a $5 bill, purchase a drink, and BRING HIM THE CHANGE. I wasn’t going to argue the point, but after I’d already taken an extra 15 minutes to detour to his apartment, I didn’t have time to play Where’s Waldo for a Pepsi. I got my food and made sure that he didn’t see me as I bolted out and went back to work to eat in peace, knowing that he wouldn’t be back for the rest of the day. While I’ll have to answer for my evasion on Monday, it is what it is.

I have very small adventures, but I like them.