They Don’t Belong Here

It was a cold, windy afternoon.

While checking out some library books I heard a conversation heating up:

“… and they could have bedbugs.” The woman anxiously jerked her grey curls to three men reading in the corner surrounded by their tattered backpacks and faded grocery bags.

“Everyone is welcome here,” the clerk replied.

“But bedbugs jump! Someone could be infected just by walking by them.”

“I can’t ask them to leave just because they have a few bags.”

“Well, how are you going to keep the books safe? Vancouver has had serious issues with bedbugs hiding in their library books. They’ve even had to shut down some of their facilities.” [note: I have no idea if this is true by any stretch of the imagination.]

“We vacuum and clean the library regularly.”

“That isn’t enough! There are other community centres they can use. They don’t need to stay here…”

To be honest, I had sympathy for everyone involved here:

  •  The clerk for being forced to entertain such a bizarre request.
  •  The disheveled men for once again being stereotyped and rejected.
  •  And even the woman who made the complaint. It must be exhausting to live with that much anxiety.


Anyone old enough to read this has no doubt had his or her own share of interesting encounters in public spaces. Come tell us about them in the comment section.



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0 Responses to They Don’t Belong Here

  1. Good post, Lydia!

    I love how we first demonize the poor, then tell ourselves we’re compassionate people.

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