Saturday was a bad day for me to go near electrical outlets in public. The library was exceptionally full, but I thought I had found a seat near an outlet… until I got under the table and realized it was a single outlet. There are signs telling us not to unplug the lamps, but of course people do if no one is using them.
I looked at my neighbors. It was a bright day and no one appeared to have turned on a lamp, so I crawled under the table again and switched lamp cord for laptop cord. When I emerged, my immediate neighbor made clear to me that he wanted his lamplight back.
I proceeded to work on battery, but my activities were not the sort that go well with battery use; I would flip through pages for a good while looking for useful articles, and every now and then actually find one and need to enter it on the computer and make some use of it. Eventually the battery got rather low, so I closed the laptop and turned to photographing one of my periodicals.
It was not long before the battery on my camera was low and I had filled up all the memory cards. I had no fresh camera batteries and I couldn’t dump the memory cards onto the laptop because that would completely drain the computer battery. I took to looking for more articles that actually needed to be cited, and wrote down pages of those that would need to be dealt with later, when I had electricity (I was dealing with two publications, one entirely text and the other of interest more for its images).
Eventually, my neighbor turned off his lamp and departed. No one else appeared to want lamplight, so I plugged in the laptop. By this time, however, I was hungry. I formed a plan: I would work at the library until the battery was fully charged, then go find food at a place that had at least one table near an electrical outlet.
When I arrived at my destination, I had my choice of two tables near outlets. One had some dirty dishes, but better light. There was no sign of other customers anywhere in the room, as most patrons wanted to sit outside. I moved the dishes to another table, set myself up, and ordered.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the employees come and pick up the dishes. Next thing I knew, there were unpleasant sounds of respiratory illness coming from the table behind me. Eventually I turned to look, and discovered the employee seated there reading a book with the dishes in front of him. It dawned on me that I must have taken his table. However, he wasn’t doing anything that required an electrical outlet, and neither he nor the employee who had taken my order had indicated that I shouldn’t sit at the table, so I returned to work.
I had ordered an item that takes some time to prepare and a fair amount of time to eat. While I awaited its arrival, my neighbor repeatedly ventured into the nearby bathroom, where he indulged in extended periods of hacking, coughing, spitting, and retching. I was astonished that anyone could sound quite that revolting, and wondered whether he was on break or merely couldn’t bear to stay away from his place of employment on his sick days. Either way, it did not do much for my appetite.
It also struck me that he might be putting on a performance especially for my benefit, since I had so wickedly stolen his table. This seemed a little far-fetched, but it was hard to imagine anyone sounding that sick being willing to leave home. I felt, however, that if he was doing this just to drive me away, he should not be granted immediate success.
When I had emptied about half my bowl, another customer entered. This was, I felt, my opportunity to find out whether the spitter was as sick as he sounded (on his last trip to the bathroom, he had left the door open so that I could hear even more clearly).
Indeed, the presence of another customer immediately quelled the loathsome noises, which made it somewhat easier to finish eating.
Since this is the only bad experience I have had in this establishment, it shall not be identified, but I am hesitant about returning in the near future. After all, next time he might be my waiter.
Unless, of course, I am completely confused and he works at some other establishment that I frequent and only happened to be hanging out at this one. If he is one of the younger librarians, it could be very embarrassing, but at least he would not be likely to spit on my books.
It would have been nice if a message had come to me early in the day warning me to beware of public electrical outlets.