How far would you go to get a cup of coffee? Folgers, at that. Probably not very far, huh? Well, there are some patrons that use the library I work at like it’s a coffee shop…or their own kitchen. So, one day I opened up as usual (made coffee, unlocked the door), and a lady came in with a group of mentally disabled people. She seemed pretty normal…until she saw the coffee percolating. Right away, as quick as you can, she was on that coffee. We have tiny Styrofoam cups, the 12 oz kind, for patrons to use to get themselves a cup of horrible hot coffee. She didn’t even wait until the coffee was finished brewing, she just poured what was done right into the cup. And chugged it down. And repeated this. Until the whole pot was gone. The. Whole. Pot. I was astounded. Every time she has visited the library since, the first thing out of her mouth is: “can you make coffee?” if there isn’t some already on. Turns out, she’s not the only one that loves her coffee…
I not only act as a librarian, I am also the cleaner of the library. So I get to see firsthand some of the nastiness that happens in bathrooms, toilets, and drinking fountains. For a while it was chewing tobacco. So when I saw this brown flaky stuff in the drinking fountain one day, I thought “great, just what I need”. But it wasn’t tobacco. It was easy to wipe up, and I cleaned the fountain no problem. Then the librarian downstairs phoned up and told me there was something odd in the drinking fountain downstairs too. I went down to check it out, and it was the same stuff…it looked like coffee grounds. I wondered who the hell was spitting coffee grounds in the fountains…were they rubbing it on their gums?! The weirdest part of this situation is: the coffee grounds didn’t only show up once. No, I saw them again a week later. I cleaned it up, but not before noting that a local group home had been in to visit that day…and quite possibly the previous time this had happened. What was going on? Well, today, my curiosity was laid to rest…kind of.
Today as I was doing my routine cleaning of the library before we opened to the public, I noticed a water bottle from the fridge in the kitchenette downstairs, perched on a wooden shelf. I glanced at it, and noticed that it looked like the contents were a bit yellowed, and little pieces of what looked like coffee grounds were floating in the water. I’ll admit, my stomach turned a little bit. The water that should have been fresh from a spring had been tainted with who knew what. I emptied the offending bottle and threw the bottle in the recycling. As I was cleaning the men’s restroom, I noticed the trash bag seemed inordinately heavy. Peeking through the side of the clear bag, I saw another water bottle, of the brand we have in the fridge. And from what I could see, this bottle too, had weird brown floaters in it. Why were there coffee grounds in the fountains? Why were these bottles filled with water and what looked like coffee grounds? Eeeeew.
Upon further thinking, I realized that the day before, the group home had been in. I had made some coffee, and a man who usually grabs a cup, had poured himself some coffee, but before he could drink it, his supervisor had plucked it out of his hands and poured it out. “You know you’re not supposed to have coffee!” she reprimanded him in exasperation. He mumbled something about using the restroom and hopped into the elevator. Ok, so this guy was obsessed with coffee…and the grounds seemed to show up in the fountains after he had been to visit. I asked the library director what her first thought was. “Someone’s trying to make their own coffee” she said. A light went on in my head. YES!! The Children’s librarian kept a container of coffee in the refrigerator downstairs. Someone was taking the coffee from the fridge, and trying to make some sort of coffee with the fountain water, or when that failed, bottled water. You just never know what you will come across at my job. Just when I think I’ve seen it all (a patron pooping in the hallway and paying me $5 to clean it up, anyone?), I discover a new wonder. I love being a librarian. *Takes sip of hazelnut coffee*