Ah, a magical once in a lifetime event*… Guess that means it’s time to be an asshole! – Every library patron yesterday.
If you’ve been on social media or even just the internet at all… Hell, if you’ve watched the news at all you must have heard of this strange and completely mysterious event when the sky goes dark and you can’t even walk outside without special eye wear or you go BLIND (I shit you not, there were people who basically believed this)! You might have also heard your local news-asshole- I mean anchor say that you can get a free pair of solar eclipse glasses at your local library~! Well, news anchors are assholes and that’s some lazy reporting because I can pretty much guarantee that the other library systems that were “lucky” enough to receive free glasses didn’t just give them away any more than we did. I mean, we did give them away but you had to at LEAST show up for an associated program because supplies were VERY limited and that means pissed off people who felt entitled to the free shit.
Some background for Eclipse day: all throughout the previous week and possibly even the week before, we told people that to get glasses you had to show up for the program the library was putting on (it was in the afternoon for the actual eclipse), that we had a limited amount (do not give a number), that it was first come first served, that you had to physically be present to get a pair of glasses because we were only handing out one pair per person there, and that we were prioritizing children/teens because the program was geared towards young, school-aged children.
Dawn the day of the Eclipse. It’s a night shift for me because the library is open late on Mondays so I don’t get in until after 11 a.m. and it’s already a madhouse. I approach my Boss and my Boss’s Boss who’s there of course and find out that they’re handing out vouchers to people so they can come back to claim glasses later in the day. Apparently people had been lining up before we were even open and my Boss’s Boss freaked out that the library was going to get filled up for people loitering around to get a pair of glasses at the program so they decided to go to a voucher system instead. Hand out 1 voucher per person and it correlates to 1 pair of glasses. Ok, different but basically the same and should be fine, right? Except when we opened at 10 a.m. we’d told a bunch of people that we weren’t handing out glasses until the afternoon program and they could come back later before we switched to the voucher system… But we still have the “one voucher per person present” thing, right? Except I actually witnessed some dumbass arguing about needing the glasses (which we weren’t actively handing out until the program) before the program because he didn’t want his kids to look at the sun during the car ride when he picked them up. Um…
1) We aren’t in an area of totality. Trust me on this, even with 90% or so coverage in the area the sun is still bright as fuck and hurts to look at so no, your children aren’t going to just be staring at the sun mesmerized.
2) 90% coverage literally only happens for a matter of minutes so please see aforementioned it’s still bright as fuck and hurts to look at the sun.
The sun doesn’t change and your children, even though you apparently can’t control a 3 year-old and 6 year-old on the car ride home, will be fine because they won’t want to look at the sun. You literally can’t see anything because it’s still too fucking bright!
My Boss’s Boss couldn’t give him the glasses because they hadn’t yet been delivered (Thank god), but caved like poorly baked soufflé and gave him extra vouchers for the children that weren’t there… So apparently the 1 voucher per person present rule is also now out the window.
The worst though was this one woman who hadn’t even come early and been turned away. She had been informed over a phone call some days ago that it was first come, first served at the program and arrived to find all the vouchers were gone and was understandably upset about things changing, but then she wouldn’t. Let. IT. GO! She literally hounded my supervisor, my Boss, and my Boss’s Boss about the fact that she had been told it was first come, first served at the program and we decided to change things. And that it wasn’t fair and that we were teaching her children that people who whined and didn’t follow the rules got their way (except the part where people didn’t break the rules, we changed them because we had to adjust to an unexpected situation). It’s like: nah, bitch you’re teaching your children that making an ass out of yourself and harassing people is a valid way to get what you want.
And she was right: because despite all the glasses (that had finally arrived) being spoken for and vouchers given out, despite this shit being free and that she was in no way entitled to 1 pair let alone the 5 or whatever she wanted, and despite her actively harassing staff and us being justified in making her leave; my Boss’s Boss decided to raid the small number we’d set aside specifically for the program (for the regular kids and teens that show up to participate in our programs) and give her several pairs just to get rid of her. It got so bad that my supervisor came to me with the ones she had left and we hid as many in our pockets as we could so the Boss’s Boss couldn’t take any more.
So none of the original rules we established are being followed and people are pissed and being obnoxious and entitled. Staff is stressed out and since none of the original rules are being followed half of them aren’t even sure what’s going on anymore so they can’t answer questions which just makes people angrier. The library is crazy busy and the poor people that have shown up just because they want to use the library like normal are having to deal with out of control kids and just so many people. That’s when I notice: there is literally a person sleeping on the couch which is against the rules, curled up without shoes on which is gross and also against the rules and this other family has an ENTIRE FUCKING PIZZA in the library and are eating it which is SUPER against the rules. I turn to my Boss’s Boss and ask her, because she can’t have missed it she just walked by these people, if I should be saying something since no one else seems to be.
“Oh, no don’t worry about it. It’s a special occasion.”
“SO IT’S JUST CHAOS THEN!” Is what I wanted to scream, but didn’t and realized that today is the kind of day when all you can do it give up.
I will admit that things did calm down a lot once the Eclipse started to visibly happen and people went outside to line up for their viewing glasses and watch it. There was also some nice moments of good will because once under way a lot of people were more than happy to share their glasses with others. I suspect that goodwill largely came from the reality that once you’ve looked at the eclipse it isn’t all that exciting anymore. I mean, it’s cool and it’s worth looking at several times over the course of the eclipse to watch the progression and everything, but you can’t just watch it. Even with the special glasses light leaks in around the outside and it starts to get uncomfortable because your eyes start to hurt and your neck has a crick. Also an eclipse moves slowly and most people didn’t seem to understand that so were probably surprised by how long it took. I mean, when I told one patron that the eclipse lasted from 1:15ish to around 4 they freaked out a bit and asked if it would be dark the whole time. 9_9
All I’m going to say as a finish up to this is, obviously by the time I was leaving work after that hellacious day I definitely didn’t want to cook, but do you know what I wanted to do even less? Talk to another person even just long enough to acquire food any other way. So I went home and made stir-fry just so I didn’t have to interact with another stranger.
*Except there is another one happening in 2024 that will pass over the United States again. Once in a lifetime my ass.