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If you are a people watcher, working in the library is one of the greatest jobs ever. You don’t have to wonder about people’s stories. They come right up to you and tell you most of the time. But sometimes I get a real stumper.

Yesterday I saw a lady who had a sign taped on her bag with two-inch packing tape. It was a full legal sheet of paper where she had scrawled “John Smith had me beaten up”

Notice the verb tense. Not “John Smith beat me up.” It was something that was contracted out. So there was an extra party in this story.

Of course the name wasn’t John Smith. I don’t recall the name. Her handwriting was messy. The name looked like a Hispanic name, but that is all. I’ve chosen a generic name.

This confused me. Why would anybody do this?

Is she trying to shame him?

Is she trying to show she is a victim?

Maybe a little of both?

Or something else?

She was in her mid 50s, about 100 pounds and 5 feet tall. She wore sweatpants. Her hair was very black and very short. Her accent sounded like she was from New York. She was friendly enough, but a little jumpy. I’m giving you this information so you have as much to go on as I do.

Sometimes I only have puzzle pieces. I hope to see her again. This was the first time I have seen her. Perhaps I’ll ask her about the sign if I see her again. Obviously it isn’t a secret if she has it taped on her bag.

There are plenty of things I would like to ask patrons about, but I don’t because it seems like it is not my place. But the best part is, I usually don’t have to ask. They just tell me anyway. I have no idea if it is just part of the job or something they see in me that says “tell all your private information”. This never happened when I worked retail. Some days I feel like I’m in a confession booth or a counselor’s office. Of course, if I was, I couldn’t write about it.

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