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La Cucaracha!


I am a clerk at a public library. At such a facility, we serve a wide variety of people from all walks of life. Many are pleasant, some are horrible, some are rude or weird, and some are just plain gross. Something you have to keep in mind about libraries is that the books and other items go home with people – including some quite unsanitary folks.

One day, when a patron brought in some items to return, I had a most unpleasant experience — one that I’ve since learned is actually a somewhat common occurrence at public libraries. The patrons returning the item were quite odoriferous, if you catch my drift. I held my breath (and/or breathed through my mouth) and began to scan the items, as the patron stood on the other side of the desk watching me.

Everything was going fine (aside from the stench), when I opened a book to scan it for return and, to my great surprise and disgust, a cockroach (or maybe two – it all happened so fast) jumped out of the book and scurried across the desk. I looked up at the patron in horror, but they were looking away and didn’t even notice (or were at least pretending they didn’t). The cockroach disappeared somewhere fast and it took every fiber of my being not to let out a blood-curdling scream.

I proceeded on with the returns as if nothing had happened. The patrons did not notice and after the returns were completed, they went off to peruse the library stacks. As they left, I mentioned what had just happened to my co-worker. We began to sanitize the desk and the returned items with bleach wipes immediately.

Needless to say, after this and other quite disturbing experiences at my library job, I’ve decided to never check out another item from the library again. You just don’t know what people do with those books, movies, etc. And I’m not so sure I want to know, to be honest.

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