The Library – in real time

The library used to be  a serene sanctuary for studious souls like myself. But that was in pre- pandemic times. It was a place where I could write assignments, or apply for jobs, or channel my inner Shakespeare in an attempt to string together a few words and come up with a coherent sentence for my blog. The ambiance of the library, with its quiet whispers and soft rustling of papers and pages turning, was the perfect backdrop for stimulating the creative flow.

Serene sanctuaries – forget it

In recent months, I found myself lacking motivation to write, prompting me to revisit the library in hopes of sparking inspiration. But little did I know, I was in for such a rude shock. I only recognised the study area by the sign outside the door that said; STUDY AREA – QUIET PLEASE.  That used to be the quiet area but now it was so crowded and noisy, leaving me no option but to insert my natural wax earplugs that were a present from a snorer and to perch on one of the high chairs at the window like a bird without a nest. Needless to say , the ear plugs didn’t cut through the cacophony that was assaulting my eardrums  and the chair caused me  a back injury.

The sniffer

To my left, there was a dude who could have easily won a competition for the world’s loudest sniffer, if there were such a competition. While I could’ve coped with  a random loud sniff here and there, the incessant noise was pushing me towards an impending anxiety attack. Without a box of tissues at hand, I contemplated going to the john and rolling off a few metres of toilet paper and placing it in front of him. But I had the feeling he would probably stare at me looking puzzled while wondering what it was for.

The blusters

Then at another table behind me, there was a dynamic duo of two dudes. I think they were rehearsing for their next big podcast production.  They spoke incessantly, their voices reverberating through the space, devoid of any consideration for the library’s serene atmosphere. From where I was sitting, I could see them in the window that I was facing. They were looking at their phones, sharing, pointing and trying to outdo each other, all the while laughing loudly.

“Check this out”. “What about this?” “ Have you ever seen this?”

Everywhere I looked there were signs saying, QUIET PLEASE

What was wrong with the woman on the desk? Why wasn’t she telling anyone to be quiet?? Why did anyone have to be told anyway? You can probably tell I was  getting frustrated by the tone of my questions.

My mind drifted back to a time, a few years earlier, when I was told off for daring to answer a call in the library. It was crazy; I was the only one in the whole library. I know it was wrong to answer my phone but I was whispering to  the person on the other end of the line. Hardly making a sound.

Yet, like a hawk, Mrs Brown, with her stern leathery face and her brown- rimmed glasses perched on her nose, swooped in. She was serious about her job and patrolled the library with unwavering seriousness, as her brown lace-up shoes tapped on the polished floorboards. It was obvious she enjoyed silencing people who were showing no respect for others in the quiet space. But who was I showing no respect to? Myself??

The turnovers

Whilst reminiscing about the quiet old library days, when Mrs Brown was in charge, the noisy blasters had left. But they were quickly replaced by a gaggle of girls who barged in to conduct an afternoon gossip session. Their shrill laughter and loud, high-pitched voices were doing my head in. One particular girl was a stand-out with her high-pitched whiney voice.

All the while,  the sniffing dude didn’t let up. He sniffed. And sniffed. And sniffed. And then his  phone  rang. His loud conversation, punctuated by his persistent sniffs, almost drove me to the brink.

I must admit, it was strangely amusing writing this in real time with the sniffer beside me, doing his thing. It took the edge off my anxiety attack which could’ve easily  developed into a full-blown episode.

But just to keep my sanity, there was only one thing to do ….

Goodbye, Bentleigh Library.

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