Yesterday, She came back. You know. Her. The one with the granddaughter. The one that asked The Question.
This time, I was ready for her evil ways, so I watched her. And as I stared, it occurred to me that one of us did very much look pregnant. But it wasn't me. She was wearing athletic gear--high waisted yoga pants--the kind that cover the belly but do nothing to conceal or restrain it. The Question burned on my tongue. I forced myself to look away.
While I concentrated on NOT putting her in the same void of despair she put ME in, a little girl came in. She was about eight, young, cute, and eager to find books. I helped her look for a few Junie B. Jones novels to read. She explored.
When she came back around the corner, she walked up and asked if she could leave her books on the circulation desk while she looked for more. I told her she could. Then she walked away.
As she left, I noticed something. A wet spot.
She had wet her pants, I realized.
The location of the spot made it impossible for her to have gotten it any other way. But her grandmother was with her, I thought. Her grandmother would take care of her.
I went over and said as delicately as possible, that I thought the little girl had wet her pants.
What would YOU do if your child or grandchild or niece or nephew or little cousin or baby-sitting-charge had lost bladder control in a public place?
I know what I would have done. I would have whisked the child out to the car, put a plastic bag down on the seat, put the child on the plastic, then driven home before giving the child a bath and a change of clothes, then laundry. If we'd been in a store and I had a cart of things, I would bring them up to the service desk and tell them I was very sorry, but I had to leave in a hurry. If I were, say, here in the library, I would put the books down and take the child home.
That's what anyone would do, right?
Not this grandmother. She first asked the child if she'd wet her pants. The child, with her wet pants (they were gray leggings, so it was VERY obvious there was an issue), stood there. The grandmother checked, made a disapproving noise, and then said--
Wait for this. This is really something.
"Okay, we'll finish picking out your books and then we have to go."
They stayed for another fifteen minutes; the little girl sat on the floor, sat in chairs, leaned back against tables, pretty much everything any normal kid would do while looking for books.
Unlike any other child, when she did it, she left urine on the carpet, chairs, and tables. I watched her every move, marking in my mind the spots I would have to clean when she left.
After five minutes had passed and still I saw no signs of the family departing, I went into the office and asked what on Earth I could do to...contain the problem. Everyone told me to do the thing I'd already done--tell the grandmother and let her take care of it.
Except she wasn't.
I finally checked out the little girl's books, expecting the family to leave then. No. She sat down in a little chair and read a book out loud to her grandmother. The grandmother listened. THEN they went home.
And I went to work. First I grabbed disposable gloves. See, urine might be sterile, but it still comes from the inside of a living creature and is a waste product, so I wasn't taking any chances. Then I went hunting for carpet cleaner, which I basically dumped on the floor in the various spots where the little girl had been seated.
Then, still in my protective wear, I scrubbed down the tables and chairs with bleach wipes.
Once that was finished, I got a new wipe and scrubbed the bottle of carpet cleaner. Then I peeled off the gloves and threw them away, put the carpet cleaner back in the cleaning supply area, and then washed my hands.
This experience, along with Pooping Man, goes on the list of the things the library doesn't put in the job description. That's because if people really knew what they'd be getting into, they'd never sign on.
That's why I need this trip to Chicago so much. I really need a break from cleaning up human waste.
**While writing this, we had another issue, this time with a young man who apparently was unable to clean himself after utilizing the facilities, and now the entire top floor of the library smells like feces**