Apathy is a thing that I'm learning to have while working in a library. I'm being broken down by tiny little micro-aggressions, some intentional, most not. I just don't care anymore. I can't allow myself to care because it drains my resources with no reward. I'm not personable enough/don't have the energy reserves to take care of my coworkers and the library's patrons, so I'm extending myself psychically only to coworkers. But that means I have to figure out how to say no to some things. Also, there's one coworker that I can't handle psychologically. My hyper-empathy goes crazy around this person and it's REALLY not working out for me.
Today I had to be at the front desk while a young kid got arrested for "trespassing" because he'd been banned for LIFE from the library by us last week and he made the mistake of coming back in. He was disrespectful to one of my coworkers and called her names and SHOULD have been kicked out of the library for a week, a month, maybe longer, but for LIFE? How many of us have done something really stupid when we were 20? To never ever be allowed in the library again? And what a TOTAL waste of the police officers' time. And do the police think of librarians as "crying wolf" when they have to come take care of instances of non-violence like this? If I were them, I would.
It's a lot to take in...that I am a part of a library that creates so many barriers to entry. The moment you walk in you see signs everywhere telling you what you CAN'T do at the library, and that list is long.
You can't sleep in the library. You can't eat in the library, not even a butterscotch candy. You can't sit and talk in the library unless you're also holding a book or doing something else "library-related". You can't do your laundry in the public restroom...which is one of those rules obviously created because someone at SOME point in time did, but this is not a rule that needed, ever, to be written down. It's definitely not a rule that needs to be told to someone when they're signing up for a library card. You can't put your feet up on the arms of a chair in the library. For YEARS after beginning to allow cell phone use in the library we still had the signs up saying cell phones aren't allowed which makes it look like even WE can't keep track of all of our rules, which is often the case.
This kind of approach to the public is starting to wear upon me after 11+ years of working here. It's only very recently that I've been awakened to how cruel we really seem. Our reputation with the public isn't the best, and I can see why.
Thinking about these types of things has made me a weird version of perma-angry this week. I want to be a positive person that believes the best in people. This is a trait that comes naturally to me that people have told me is naive and "cute". I even believed those people for a long time that I probably had it wrong...that people are shittier than I thought. But you know what? They're really not. People in general will treat you with respect if you do the same for them. 95% of the time, people are nice to me. This isn't because I'm lucky. This is because I'm nice to them.
I am done treating patrons like criminals. I'll even occasionally break the rules to give them the benefit of the doubt. Our society is already cruel enough. The library doesn't need to be an extension of that cruelty.