Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Race, class, entitlement

A man walked up to the reference desk and threw the information slip that we give out regarding cellular telephone use on our floor on the desk in front of me. He then stated, " I DON'T SEE WHAT THE DIFFERENCE IS."

I was working on the computer, so I stopped and looked at the patron. I then said, " What are you talking about."

Patron: "That! I don't see a difference."

Me: "A difference, what are you talking about."

Patron: "Talking in the library."

Me: "What do you mean? Do you mean the difference between someone talking on a cellular telephone and what?"

Patron: "Between talking on a cell phone and just talking loudly!" Those people next to me are talking loudly.

* I didn't hear anything at the desk. I walked over to where he was sitting and didn't hear anything on my way over there. Yes, three people were talking, but they were speaking in low tones and even when standing next to then, I couldn't hear them clearly.

So the first thing I said to the patron is, " You should have just told me that you had a problem with the people talking next to you, instead of throwing that sheet of paper in my face( my head was facing down and he threw the paper in a way in which it landed directly in my line of vision.)

We went back and forth on that for a minute. Since I didn't hear anything, I told him so and returned to the desk. Here is where race, class, and entitlement comes into the picture.

The patron was melanin challenged and middle aged. The people he complained about were an African American male, a melanin challenged woman, her melanin challenged son, and the couple's biracial infant. They looked to be late twenties to early thirties. The woman's son was a teenager. The patron bypassed a melanin challenged librarian in order to approach me. At that point, I maintained the opposite side of the room from where he was sitting. He insisted that I check on his complaint. He was fuming when I didn't see things his way.

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