* The Gestapo librarian

Officer Nasty works security at the library.  He doesn’t wait for trouble to happen or for someone to ask him for help.  Instead, he constantly patrols the whole place looking for people who may be breaking the rules, so he can put them out.  He walks up and down the narrow aisles of the computer center to see what you have on your screen.  He comes into the men’s room hoping to catch someone in the act — act of what, I can’t imagine.  You get the picture.

The wi-fi cafe at the library is about 15 feet inside the front door.  My custom was, if I weren’t going back to the computer center (about 60 feet from the front door), to stash my two heavy bags in there when I went out for a smoke break, and then pick them up when I’d come back in.  Saturday 06/09/12 he told me I couldn’t do that, but must take the bags with me.

There were conversations behind that, and e-mails exchanged (Not naming him, but only asking about the rules.) with big shots, and over the course of a couple weeks I learned new ways to handle my bags so as to not draw his attention.  It was simple enough.

I found nevertheless that part of me — the impulse to seek or make trouble, which I may as well call here “the itch” — still wanted to bring a complaint and make this all out as some kind of personal vendetta against me.  Perhaps he wanted to make it that much more inconvenient for me, and that much more obvious to other people, that I have those two heavy bags and am homeless.

But the fact is, in light of the actual facts of the situation, that in order to make a complaint like that, I’d have to concoct some fiction — to make up some story — to lie.  And I’m not willing to do that in this case.

(Reblogged 05/28/14.)

* Practical advantages of being a nice guy

It’s been a long time since I last considered this; maybe because, for some months, there haven’t been that many jerks among us at the shelter.  Whether the “spirit” I breathe out has anything to do with that, I don’t know.[1]  But I was in the shower 07/01/12 and overheard that they’d run out of wash cloths, and that brought this to mind.

Just being a nice guy earns me concrete, practical rewards.

A number of mainstream people help me financially who definitely would not help a jerk.

If we’re in the smoke pit and I need to bum one, I’m far more likely to get one than would a jerk.

Last summer, there was a shortage of wash cloths, for reason that people were stealing them.  At first, if you weren’t one of the first 40 to shower, you wouldn’t get one.  Then it became 30.  Then 20.  Several guys, it turns out, actually donated  wash clothes.  I donated 15.  They all disappeared.[2]

Some guys come to the clothes window and every day, it’s:
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I felt pretty chipper all day Tuesday 06/26/12, until I came into the shelter and put my things down on my bunk.  My mood changed abruptly.  All of a sudden I became ornery.  I felt out of sorts, prone to become irritated and to look for things to get upset about.

On the one hand, I wondered if some spirit of negativity had infested the place, and I’d picked up on it.  This has happened before.  See the subsequent post about starlings (link).  But I could not see or hear anyone who might be creating it.

On the other hand, it’s up to me to choose my own mood and outlook, regardless of circumstances.  And right now, it’s my job to be bright.  That’s my work.  That’s what God’s paying me to do.

(Turns out the one guy who works in the laundry toom was carrying a particularly nastty attitude that day.  Could I have picked up on that from 40 feet away?  It’s possible.  He never wears his name badge, which is a violation of the rules, so it took me several days to learn his name.  But I did, and put him on my prayer list.)