By Rosalie Tirella
I have been going to the Auburn Public Library every day for the past two and a half years to do InCity Times business stuff: blog, write my columns, send/answer emails, read other rags, learn new social media skills, etc. Lovely experience! The staff, especially former head librarian, Cindee, were incredible! I used to have Internet hook up at my house, but I never got any work done there – just watched “I Dream of Jeannie” reruns on Hulu.com – so I made the APL my new media office. At home, I felt isolated and unmotivated. At the Auburn Public Library I felt connected, welcomed, liked. And got a ton of work done in a half hour to an hour. Fantastic!!!
And the Auburn Public Library’s fab librarians … Where to begin? They quickly became pals, women who greeted me when I entered, asked me about my Husky mix, Jett. Women who like my columns about my mom. Smart women who could teach me how to deal with this website: how to use widgets, plug ins, download photos, etc. Women who ran Facebook and social media tutorials, who said: cool skirt, Rose! or nice scarf! Gal pal librarians! How cool! I would give the ladies candy for Easter and Christmas and gave them a plant this spring. They are that helpful and super. Former head librarian Cindee was amazing. She brought APL into the 21st century re: computer programs, computer education, etc…. She even brought in a Keurig coffee machine so we library patrons could buy those great K cups and make ourselves a nice cup of java and enjoy Green Mountain’s best while blogging, etc. (bought one for myself this past Christmas, liked their machine so much) Cindee was so attuned to the library patrons, welcoming everyone. I remember seeing a little black boy, not a very common sight in Auburn, at the stand up computer. He was alone, doing homework. Cindee went right up to him, gave him a wonderful hello, knew his first name. A head librarian for the 21st century, Cindee was! She left almost a year ago. Sent me a Christmas card. I sent her a statue of a West Highland terrier because she had two adorable white Westies that she would sometimes bring to work! Adorable pups! Several months ago, a new head librarian, Dianne Ramsey, an older woman, took her place. The kind of woman you would expect to see retiring from a job in a few years, the kind of head librarian who knows little about social media, website building, 21st century library stuff. Not very open to me either … But I never expected this:
Three or so months ago, I began to notice that this old guy was always checking me out at the Auburn Public Library – like waiting for me to enter or leave the place. I was there. He was there. I was at the stand up computer. He walked by the stand up computer. I was at the sit down computer. He walked by the sit down computer. Sometimes he would scratch his ass as he walked by me. I changed my arrival times. He changed his arrival times. I came in late in the day. He was there late in the day. I came in earlier. He was there earlier. Our paths always seemed to cross. He was always staring at me. Creepy. Definitely not random. Definitely not coincidental.
A few weeks ago, another creep at the APL was more forward with me. (FYI: The APL is filled with wonderful people – these two guys are not the norm!!! But this is a column about women making their way in the world …) Anyways, this creep was leaving the library. I was walking my dog Jett. He, in his car now, drove right up to me, blocked my path and started talking to me, as if he wanted me to approach his vehicle. I would not and gave him an annoyed look and told him to drive away, waved him off. He did. But then as I walked Jett around the little pond behind the library, there he was: his car parked at the bottom of the hill on Southbridge Street, beeping at me and waving at me. I was freaked out. I went to the Auburn Police the next day and filed a complaint – and filed one with the library. The next day, he was sitting in the APL reading the paper. I said to him: STAY AWAY FROM ME. STAY AWAY FROM ME. I AM HERE TO WORK. He said: I was just giving you the peace sign yesterday and got right back into my face. Said he was an Auburn taxpayer (homeowner, I am guessing), intimating that because he owns a home in Auburn he has the right to … What? Block my path with his car? Intimidate me? Sit at edge of street, waiting for me and beeping at me as if to say … make me lady.
The Auburn Police were pointless when I filed the complaint. Made me feel like I was the criminal. Depressing … But the creep has kept away. Has not blocked my path with his car since. I had made a ton of noise.
Back to the old coot, creep #1…
Feeling emboldened by my ability to put the younger creep in his place, I was gonna deal with creep #1. There he was, in his maroon convertible, an old fuck, totally repugnant to me, driving a snazzy car … always there. Once, in the library, as he walked by, I made the most horrible scowl, the most wretched face I could imagine, as if to say to him, YOU ASSHOLE, YOU REPULSE ME. STAY AWAY. He walked by and scratched his ass. Knowing that the police would be pointless in this case, that no “crime” had been committed other than a kind of creepy stalking that would make most gals feel uncomfortable, the next day, I went up the old creep as he watched me walk my dog near the library parking lot, and took his photo with my cell phone. I also (later) took a picture of his car and his license plate number – 6241 RD. A Mass plate. I was not going to let this go.
A few days later, as I was leaving the library, there he was in his car, just sitting in it, staring. I stood in the library parking lot, yards away from him and became very Green Island. I shouted to him, in my best Green Island grrrrowl: STAY THE FUCK AWAY from me! Do not fuck with me! OR: You will be the star of one of my columns. I mean it.
So, unwilling to give up my fave work site, unwilling to have this jerk intimidate me out of the library I love, I went to one of the APL librarians and said: Can’t take this jerk anymore. This is every day. EVERY DAY. This is not random or coincidental.
We decided that I would work in a tiny room in the APL, on a lap top. With the door closed I would have privacy and not see the creep and he would not be able to see me, walk by me, smiling stupidly or scratching his old monkey ass.
Problem: It was like working in a little jail cell! My new space was such a small room, beige cinder blocks. No window. My work felt like work. I could not chat with my librarian gal pals, talk about vacations or animals or … anything. I thought back to last year at the Auburn Publilc Library. A beautiful blond, in her early 40s, was looking for a job on the Internet, updating her resume too. She was so beautiful and nice. Every day there she was, working on her future, feeling proud. Then some creep came in – I swear it was the creep in the car I just wrote about, looked just like him – but Mrs. Ramsey, the new head librarian, denies this. Anyways, the creep was hovering near the lovely blond. She panicked and just blurted out to everyone in the Auburn Public Library: I met him on a dating website. he won’t go away. I had to call the police. She was red faced, flustered. My heart broke for her.
She left the library. And never came back. Her job search ended …
Back to me in my little jail cell, feeling: Why am I stuck here? This is no fun! Why is he out there, still being the creep!
The tipping point: A few days ago, I had entered the library, ready to go to my teeny room. But decided to buy a coffee at the info desk. As I gave the librarian my money, we began chatting. Well, guess who comes out from behind the stacks, drawn out by my dulcet voice? The old coot creep. To just stare at me, from a distance … AURGH!!!! Into my new work space I ran.
After, I left the APL, I called Mrs. Ramsey, the new head librarian. Distraught. Upset, I cried: This has been going on for months! I am afraid!
Mrs. Ramsey shrieked at me: YOU NEED TO GET THIS STRAIGHT. THE MAN IS A RETIRED STATE REP FROM AUBURN. HE IS A RESPECTED LEADER IN THE COMMUNITY. AND YOU YELLED AT HIM. HE IS AN OLD MAN.
I told here I was writing a column about this.
Mrs. Ramsey shrieked: AND IF YOU DO, YOU CAN NEVER RETURN TO THE AUBURN PUBLIC LIBRARY!!! Then she hung up on me.
The wonderful Cindee would never have acted this way. She, like the fab head librarian she was, would have spotted the perv months ago – and dealt with him. The fact that the perv is a retired state rep, driving a convertible, scratching his ass in front of me, makes his a cliche in the sickest sense. Some player politician – probably married to some very nice meek wife – who thinks he can get away with this.
I was stunned by the assholeness of Mrs. Ramsey, someone I could sense did not like me the way Cindee did and the other librarians do. Probably didn’t feel I fit in …. Really, she is a throw back to the old school, the old fashioned librarians who can’t hack it in a diverse America an America of Twitter, social media, coffee machines, women who run papers … and nervy pervs who want to prey on women and girls. Auburn must look perfect, for Mrs. Ramsey. Her library must look perfect. Meanwhile, women looking for jobs leave or work out of rooms the size of a walk in freezer! And the way she screamed at me!!!!!!!!!!!!
This one is for the ladies!!!!
After, Mrs. Ramsey hung up on me, I cried. Like a baby! Then I pulled over to the side of the road, Googled town of Auburn, town manager and got the phone number of Julie Jacobson, Auburn Town Manager and former Worcester Assistant City Manager, Wusta, my city. Julie knows my rag, I have interviewed her for InCity Times. I told everything to Julie. She was, as always, the perfect professional. She told me I was made to feel “uncomfortable.” She told me to go to the police to report the creep’s behavior. She said what she could do on her side of the equation was to call Mrs. Ramsey to tell her what she said was inappropriate. She did – the same day. Thank you, Jules!
Libraries are public places, places where women have the right to write newspaper columns, look for jobs, read the newspaper etc IN PEACE. Not be made uncomfortable by CREEPS.
A pal said: Just don’t go there anymore, Rose. Problem solved.
She is well meaning, but NO, the problem is not solved. The creeps will just get more brazen … and there will be the next woman.
People need to be aware … smart …. tough … Women need to stand their ground, even when women like Mrs. Ramsey turn the tables, call foul on you and go to bat for a … perv cause he is a retired state rep who has clout (who drives a convertible, and thinks he is cool …. like I said a cliche beyond cliches. The guy is an ugly old monkey!)
I think I am in the middle of a shit storm, gentle readers.
And I will not give one centimeter.
I am writing this column in the middle of the Auburn Public Library. Not in my little jail cell room. I am drinking flavored water and enjoying being around all the great, diverse people who come together in the Auburn Library, a very American place. Democracy in action.
We are all equal in America, in our public spaces.
Like I said: This one is for the ladies.