Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Kingdom for a Bathroom Key

The next town over has a very old library. One of the best things about this library is that in the children's section there is a carpeted area that very clearly used to be a stage and it's loaded up with toys.
After her swim lessons today, Girl begged me to take her to this library which was only about a block away from the Y.M.C.A (where her lessons were). Very happy to get out of yet another afternoon of watching her attempt to cross the monkey bars, I quickly agreed.
We spent a good chunk of time there, with her playing with the Polly Pockets from my purse in their giant dollhouse (there were no dolls for the dollhouse) or playing with cars from my purse on the giant parking garage/track (there were no cars for the track) and I read my book and occasionally read books to her (Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly; Pinkalicious; and No Zombies Allowed) I am telling you the titles in a kind of one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others-type scenario.
At any rate as 4-year-olds (two weeks from their 5th birthday) are wont to do, Girl needed to use the facilities, and as they are also wont to do, she didn't tell me until she was potty dancing.
I ran right over to the children's section desk and asked the clerk where the bathrooms were located.
"Oh, well the upstairs bathrooms are closed because of vandalism, you'll have to use the ones in the lower basement, but first you'll have to go to the main desk and get the key," he replied.


Let me give you an idea of the layout of this library in which this event is taking place. As I've said, it's an old building, the kind with high ceilings where the first floor is actually about a half a floor up and there are several flights of stairs before you get to the second floor. The children's section is on the second floor, the lower basement is actually three floors down. Did I mention my daughter is dancing?

So we bolt down the stairs (pausing briefly at the second floor bathrooms to determine that they are in fact locked). We rush down four flights of stairs and hurry over to the front desk, which is completely empty. A heavyset, old lady wearing cataract surgery lenses under regular glasses scoots out of the office and walks away from us with a stack of DVDs in one hand, holding the walls for support with the other. "I'll be right with you dear," she calls over her shoulder. I look at my daughter, her legs are crossed, her hand is firmly gripping her crotch and she is still dancing. "It's a bit urgent," I call back. I am ignored.
The old lady reappears and SLOOOOOOWLY makes her way to us. "We need the bathroom key," I explain quickly patting my daughter's head.
"Well, I need your library card." I scramble through my purse to get my wallet and practically fling it towards her as I make a grab for the tiny key attached to a giant purple dowel rod.
She backs away faster than I thought possible given her previous manner of movement.
"No, dear, you have to check it out."
She shakily makes her way to the computer scans my card and then scans a bar code attached to the dowel rod and slooooowly hands both back to me. I grab my daughter under my arm and make a Heisman-style dash to the stairs and go down six more flights. After a battle with an ancient uncooperative lock I get my daughter inside where she barely makes it to the toilet.

Now that the task is complete I can fully appreciate how fucking mad I am.

We return to the front desk and my little girl wants to return the key, but I want to yell (or whisper furiously as it is a library).

You need to know that I love libraries with my heart and soul. Almost all of my favorite places have been libraries and this one is no exception, it's lovely.

Finally after she helps the several elderly ahead of us in line, I approach the desk and ask cataract-lady who is in charge.
"That's me actually."
I proceed to tell her how fully irritated I am. My speech was lengthy and included forays into my daughter's constitutional right not to have an accident, and reminders about how she would be required to clean up any such messes and the greater danger of urine to books versus ink to walls. I also reminded her that public libraries were for the public and you shouldn't need a library card to pee.
All the while library patrons are staring and I am realizing I am not maintaining a library voice.
Finally I finish and the old lady looks at me and says in a very clear "I am brushing you off" voice, "I am sorry ma'am."
I grabbed my daughter's had and said (loudly for the benefit of my audience), "I don't want your apologies, I want you to fix your ridiculous policies!"
I wish old people had heard of the slow-clap, because I clearly deserved it here.
Anyways, we went back to the children's section to grab the books Girl wanted to take out and as we left I noticed the upstairs bathroom was open and a girl was scrubbing the walls.

I think I am still going to write to the local paper.

1 comment:

Cameron said...

"Pink" I said, "pink, pink, pink."

I've read that book 6,327 times before girl finally just ate it one day.

I can't quite understand your plight because our daughter still travels with her own potty chair at this point, she's afraid of the noise that public toilets make, but you're right, and some people (many people) don't understand that when a child needs something, they need it now.