It’s been awhile since I’ve had a run-in with a local freak, for lack of a better term. You know them: the random, semi-crazy appearing/acting people who engage you in conversation without an invitation.

My favorite such encounter was sometime in the mid–90s at a Dillons in Lawrence, KS with one of that city’s most notable weirdos. I was attempting to buy some anti-perspirant and this man sidled up to me, grabbed a container of Speed Stick or whatever, and started mumbling some nonsense that had to do with being a pawn in the desires of big business, or something along those lines. I kind of enjoyed it, as this dude just seemed out there rather than dangerous in any way. I tried to keep the conversation going but he was more interested in spouting his views rather than having a true dialogue. Somewhere I have a journal with the entire conversation written down. I probably should have looked for that before I started this post…

Anyway, Monday I popped into the local library to grab a book I had reserved. To get to the Holds section you must walk past two tables of public-use computers. As I passed one of the tables I heard someone say, “Are you doing ok, sir?”

I realized I was the only sir walking by, so this question must have been aimed at me. I looked around and saw an odd looking fellow sitting at one of the computers looking at me. Before I could say anything he continued, “It’s ok, sir. It’s just a library,” with a hint of both concern and ridicule in his voice.

I kind of half-chuckled, rolled my eyes, and continued.

I guess this triggered him. He threw his hands up in the air and shook his head in total disgust. I quickened my pace to get around the corner and beyond the safety of the stacks.

I grabbed my book and headed back to the check out area, which would take me by the computer table again. I decided to look casual and devote my total attention to picking through my keys for my mini library card

I should share at this moment another key detail: this guy had wild hair and a face tattoo. Not to stereotype, but I’m guessing someone who seems a little unhinged and has a face tattoo is not one you want to push.

I kept my peripheral vision alert just in case dude tried to rush me. I kept an ear open just in case there were any more comments, too.

Fortunately for me, but probably unfortunately for this story, I had no more interaction with this gentleman. Once I was safely in my locked car, I let out a breath and started laughing. You can get all kinds at public libraries, but between Covid and mask requirements they have seemed less interesting for the past two years. Glad to see things are getting back to normal.