Butter Rum Cartoon

Butter Rum Cartoon

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011


In the mid 1970’s I was an acquisitions clerk for the Everett Public Library. It was a great job, but my position was due to be phased out. Meanwhile Mel, the library custodian, retired; and because Gary Strong, the director, didn’t want to lose me, he offered me the custodian job. It paid better, but I didn’t like the idea of leaving that great job of being the first to unpack the new, library books, to become a janitor. I needed the money though (I had just gotten married), so I accepted the offer.

I forget what it was called, but there was this neat program at the time in which teenagers could come and work at the library as helpers. I had boys help me prepare library books, during my acquisitions clerk job, by covering the dust covers with mylar and taping them to the books, stamping certain pages, glueing in card pockets, etc., and I also had boys help me in my custodial work. Brent was one of these boys--a tall, smiling-faced fellow who said his favorite were humor books--and Brent helped me before and after my job switch.

Geraldine was the library director’s secretary. She worked in the main office upstairs on the main floor. Despite her high position, Geraldine was a humble person--thirty-something, fairly tall, fairly nice-looking, and friendly. One day I came to work with disappearing ink, in a little squirt bottle. You could spray this dark blue ink on anything, and when it dried it would completely disappear. It was loads of fun. Well, I happened to be leaving for lunch as Geraldine was returning, walking outside in front of the library. She was wearing a white coat. Heh heh heh. Feinting an accident, as I passed her, I squirted ink all over the front of Geraldine’s coat. She jumped back, looked down, and groaned. Amidst my laughter, I managed finally to explain that it’s disappearing ink and would soon be gone. “No it won’t,” she moaned, “This is a new coat, and it’s not supposed to get wet. Even water will stain it.”

Yet she put up with me, and finally the day came when I overheard that Geraldine was going down to the supply room in the library basement. I slipped out of the office and ran downstairs. My custodian room was right next to the supply room in the basement, and although each room had its own door, inside the two rooms were separated only by open shelves. I grabbed Brent along the way, and the two of us hurried into the custodian room and slithered through the shelves into the dark supply room. Brent was much taller than I, and the two of us stood just inside the locked supply room door, waiting.

Soon we heard the clicking of Geraldine’s shoes on the hard floor of the library’s dimly-lit archives. This was a spooky part of the large building, and Geraldine assumed she was alone. Because there was nothing to prevent anyone from sneaking down into the archives, there was always that haunting feeling that someone unwanted might be hiding there. Geraldine unlocked the supply room door with her key, and opened it. And at the same time, out of the darkness, Brent and I poked our heads into the doorway, Brent’s head above mine, and together said a loud, “Hi!”

Geraldine stumbled back and turned white. She was so scared that her expression didn’t even show emotion--just kind of a dead-pan numbness trying to keep her consciousness. Brent and I then laughed heartily and walked out of the room. Geraldine managed to remain upright, and getting her breath, stepped into the supply room to get what she needed, and Brent and I went back to work.

Awhile later, I was called into the office and told by the director not to scare anyone again. Geraldine felt so weak after her fright that she had to take the rest of the day off. Fortunately I kept my job, and fortunately I’ve gotten away with the many times I’ve scared people since then.

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1 comment:

  1. RE: Scaring Geradine...
    You're evil.
    I'll tell you who I am, in a different forum.