Samantha Pilecki, 5/2/2016
Current Occupation: Librarian
Former Occupation: Body Piercing
Contact Information: Samantha Pilecki is your typical librarian who collects dead bugs and spends time with her pet rats. She enjoys strong green tea and Fuente cigars. More of her work can be found at El Portal magazine.
Kat worked at the Library. She loved books. She loved her job, which required working with books; putting them where they belonged, straightening them according to the myriad stickers on the spines. She answered phone calls and created paper decorations for the Children’s Department.
That’s where the trouble began. With the decorations.
“I don’t know. It doesn’t…do anything for me.” Lisa stood, hands on hips, surveying Kat’s newest bulletin board. “There’s too many colors. Too much going on. It feels…scattered. I know, I’m the last one who should say anything. I don’t have a creative bone in my body. But I feel…” Here she trailed off, the dissatisfaction on her face evident of what remained unsaid. Lisa sighed, and settled into her four hour shift which consisted of checking her Facebook and match.com accounts.
Lisa’s ambivalence wouldn’t be so harmful in itself, but when coupled with her twenty year friendship with Irma, the library’s Director, it became dangerous. Irma agreed with Lisa, and then made a point to summon Kat.
A summons to Irma’s office had all the ominous connotation of a trip to the principal’s. As most Library girls had been good pupils in school, the dread of a closed door and the damned visit weighed heavily. No one wanted to go into Irma’s office; no one wanted a scolding. No one wanted to be on her bad side.
Irma could make you miserable. Irma could ruin your life.
During the first visit, Irma told Kat she wasn’t working hard enough. Kat thought about Lisa’s binges of social media and cigarette breaks, but didn’t say anything. Irma already knew her lap dog had a lazy work ethic, and didn’t quite care.
So Kat worked harder. She needed this job.
She ran for phone calls, organized the library’s collection until it was immaculate, and made bigger and more intricate bulletin boards. Dinosaurs hung from the ceiling. Letters lit up. Her creations could be window displays, instead of bulletin boards.
This only increased Lisa’s ire. “This really burns my biscuits.” Lisa shook her head, coffee mug in hand, and stood, sipping and critiquing, for the first fifteen minutes of every day. She had nothing else to do. “Doesn’t Kat know someone can get hurt? What if those fancy LEDs start a fire? There’s too much…I can’t say she did a bad job though. It’s just a concern of mine, that’s all.”
On the second visit to Irma’s office, Kat learned she was written up. Three write ups in a year could get you canned. Kat wanted to know why she was being written up, and Irma showed her a letter stating someone ‘felt threatened’ by her. It was in the suggestion box. Irma was such a good director, she read these suggestions personally “I’m sorry, Kat, I don’t feel you’re a threat, but we need to be careful about these things in this time. It’s only policy I have to document it. Maybe you should concentrate on your work.”
So Kat worked harder, and harder. Her bulletin boards were sensational; she knew it from people’s reactions. Her blog began featuring her library inspired creations and she was ‘an artistic sensation.’ A library magazine interviewed her, and wrote an article on her work.
But Lisa clucked her tongue as she read the blog comments. “Well, I guess I can see how some people like it. But would you look at these people?” She stabbed pictures with her finger. “I bet they do this sort of silly thing all day. Just like Kat. You know, you’d really think folks would do something more productive with their time …oh silly me, what am I saying. I’m happy for her.”
The third time Irma summoned Kat, she was told to stop decorating. No more bulletin boards. “Knowing what a success you are, with your obvious talent…we feel this is something that’s personal, and should be developed on your personal time. Not on work time. It’s just more appropriate that way.”
When the library patrons complained about the lack of decorations, Irma hired Tabitha, some college kid. Her job was exclusively the bulletin board. Tabitha had some mighty big shoes to fill, and tramped around in a mist of glitter and hot glue, spending her days covered in paint and looking for rulers. Kat knew the girl put a lot of work into her creations; Kat envied her.
It wasn’t long before Kat hated her.
Now, Kat stands with her coffee cup, in front of Tabitha’s work. She’s twenty pounds heavier, and shows no sign of slimming down; the march of the scale has been steady. She wears fuschia lipstick, her signature, the only bit of color left to herself. She has finished her first pack cigarettes, and is thinking about buying a new one.
Kat blinks at Tabitha’s bulletin board and sighs. “I’m confused why she wanted to put the puppy dog there. It feels off balanced. There’s no symmetry.”
“You know, I wasn’t going to say anything. But I feel the same way,” Lisa says.
Tabitha walks into Irma’s office. The door is closed. Tabitha works harder.