I’m sitting outside the library, on the ground, the wall behind my back as I wait for it to open. The library has free wireless, so I’m jacked in out here. I am not alone--there is a small group of like-minded folk keeping me company. The two guys beside me are from a shelter and they’re talking shit about who it’s okay to steal from and how they would stab people in the shelter randomly if their iPod was stolen, until the perp fessed up, hoping not to get stabbed too. One of them is on heavy meds – he uncaps a bottle and downs a mouthful. His buddy says “that’s gross’’, and he says they’re for his AIDS, then tells his buddy to go fuck himself and write an article about it. It is friendly advice.
Another guy says: “The FBI is trying to set me up. Has anybody seen my constitutional rights?” I mistake him for normal. Or near normal. He continues his friendly banter, his madness laced with good buddy humor. “The FBI can kiss the crack of my ass.” Cigarettes are bogarted, the air fills with the smell of burnt lungs
It is 10:00 a.m. The doors open. There are about 20-25 of us who funnel in. Most go to the elevators, I head downstairs to the café. I use the restroom, and though I’m the first one in, both toilets are, um, unflushed. I choose the lesser of two evils and close the door. A few moments later an Asian guy comes in. He is babbling, “I’m the only one here <Giggle> Gonna get some hot coffee. No, gonna get some hot tea <Giggle> Yeah, hot tea. Gonna get some hot tea <Giggle> hot tea. Yeah. Hot tea. Gonna get some hot tea.” The hot tea mantra goes on until he leaves. I leave after him, washing my hands longer than necessary in the not-yet-hot water. Two of the three hand dryers are not working.
I leave the restroom, take the elevator to the 4th floor and grab a window seat. From the window I can look down into the Civic Center courtyard. There are two tourist busses. Homeless people. Somebody yells something that should be inaudible to me. But it isn’t. The yells continue, inarticulate howls of anger and injustice, but are now coming from inside the library. Someone is not happy.
And I realize that I love the smell of madness in the morning…
I’m here to work though, to focus. As I write this, things have settled down. Security has done its job (and a considerable job It is) and have ushered out the most extreme cases. The hushed whispers of librarians instructing patrons and the random sounds of fidgeting and pages turning replace the howls. Time for me to settle in too.
My day has finally begun…