Friday, June 9, 2023

Only One Here

Working 9-4 at a small college library, during summer, can be a solitary job.

I'm the only one here

I can hear water dripping in the fish tank

on the other side of the room.

It's a big room.

It used to be filled with thousands of books

on metal shelves.

Now there are six square tables, 

One large round table

  with a well-used power strip in the middle,

Brown faux leather couches near the windows,

Plants on ledges.

The water noise keeps me company

as I sit

trying to think of something to do.

I hear a door close

in the hall,

probably someone coming in to use the restroom.

If they want to refill a water bottle,

I'll have company

for a minute or two.

I swear there's a hum,

Is it in my head

or is it coming from the HVAC system or lights?

I feel like the library queen,

Perched on my chair,

Looking out at the vastness..

Across from my perch at the desk,

A sign in a cracked plastic holder,

"Book Sale 2 for $1,"

We rarely sell any

of the outdated textbooks

and class related materials.

Maybe they were read once upon a time,

Now, they gather dust,

their spines lean on each other

and stare at me

every minute I am at the circulation desk,

which is around 55 minutes of each hour,

Except for when I pulled half a dozen books in the morning

and placed them in the red bin

for transit to other libraries

that perhaps are more busy than mine.

Time to make my hourly rounds

check the empty study rooms,

maybe push in a chair,

walk up the stairs,

  even the lizards are absent today,

walk through the stacks,

check that the A/V equipment room is still looked,

come back down,

maybe step outside for a minute to

feel the sun,

then back inside,

just in case the phone rings

or someone comes in,

Maybe I'll check the book drop,

even though I checked it three hours ago,

It was empty then,

just like it was empty yesterday

and the other days I checked it.

Working alone is okay,

but it's easier

when there are people in the building

and I can feel some of their energy.

Alone, in the building,

I feel my energy wane

and look for ways to recharge.


Two instructors come back,

their office is being recarpeted

so they're working from here.

And then a student comes in.

and then another.


I am not alone.

Except the students leave within fifteen minutes.

So it is just 

two instructors using computers

in the quiet room,

And me making the rounds more often than necessary

so my feet don't cramp

on the rim

of the black chair

I wiped down when I got here

because it is a hair and dust magnet.

I'm not the only one here

but it is quiet,

I'm thankful that the battery operated clock

was taken down

and the battery not replaced.

The echo of ticking

would not be as

easy to listen to

as the melodic drip of water

in the fish tank.

Oh, did I mention that the student who cleans the tank

came in, 

talking on his phone,

did his job,

and left?