Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Quick Note To High School Dropout Tweakers Who Assault My Former Pupils...


So I'm drunk.

Scratch that. I'm completely shitfaced. I had three different people buy me shots tonight. I had two rather attractive bartenders feeding me drinks all night, too.

It's been a while since my hands twitched. Twitching like they're twitching now.

I probably shouldn't be blogging, because, well, its dangerous for someone with my background to be blogging while intoxicated. I'm actually breaking one of my cardinal rules by posting anything, really...

* * * *

So I got into an altercation with someone much younger than myself, someone without the experience to discern who, exactly, one can pick a fight with and actually win.

There are very few such altercations I've lost; if you've read this blog long enough, you should know that I'm not the kind of guy who backs away from bullshit pissing contests or vulgar displays of power.

I'm not the kind of librarian who will sit idly by while my clients are in states of duress; I'm not some Marion the Librarian tea-totaler who would rather write some batshit article for the professional literature than actually take a stand for their users.

If, say, a would-be suitor of a young woman that I've been tutoring suddenly decides to go Ike Turner on one of MY clients, leaving one of MY students, someone who I've been tutoring to learn that, no, being born poor is not a crime, a victim of domestic violence...

Trust me, I'm not going to simply pull you aside and have a friendly conversation about overdue books or fines. I'm not going to beat my chest like some animalistic primate, either.

* * * *

Before I was a librarian, before I was a journalist, I was a Grade-A hoodlum. And not just any hoodlum - I was THE bad motherfucker who had no problem whatsoever dropping a guy for doing something stupid. I was good at it. Long before I was an information professional, I was a professional weapon of mass destruction.

As a teenager, I was once voted most likely to be dead by 21 by classmates; if it hadn't been for my friends (many of whom are now incarcerated or on probation) and a 1390 on my SATs, I'd be wearing an orange jumpsuit right now....

* * * *

If any guy feels the need to punch one of MY charges in their teenaged face for DARING to want something more than a life as a baby mama, I'm going to become somebody's worst fucking nightmare, something they didn't learn while watching 50 Cent videos in a one-horse town in the middle of fucking nowhere.

I'm not some bookish introvert who turned to librarianship as a way to escape the real world. I'm not a librarian because I wanted a job where I could grow fat on a steady diet of the latest fiction while refusing to take responsibility for the repercussions that go along with changing people's lives through information literacy.

I'm the kind of guy who patrons turn to because I can show them that they're not stupid for wanting to learn, the kind of librarian brave enough to try to understand the whole patron, not just the normal, everyday reference-interview bullshit.

I care about what I do. I care about my patrons. Being a librarian, for me, does not stop at the end of the day.

* * * *

If a girl who I spent much of the last year teaching how to read calls me up, tells me that her ex-boyfriend just used her as a punching bag and PISSED on the books she checked out from another library, I'll get involved. I won't bring it up in a staff meeting, I'm not going to create a fucking READ poster, and I'm not going to give a bullshit presentation at a bullshit conference.

So, if you're the kind of 20-something loser who would punch a young woman in the face for daring to overcome her learning disability, for daring to want to spend more time with a good book than being your fuck buddy, please be advised that there are people bigger than you, stronger than you, and smarter than you who may show up on your doorstep to demand answers.

And we're not talking Melvil Fucking Dewey here.

* * * *

As a man who's experienced domestic violence and who's watched female friends go through it, Im sorta honor-bound in situations like this.

But for someone to resort to physical abuse because a person has learned to respect themselves through a better understanding of the world beyond poverty and illiteracy? There is no damned way I could look at myself in the mirror, as a man or as a librarian, knowing that a person I've helped was abused.

What can I say? Sometimes a guy just has to make housecalls.


Let's just say I don't regret a SINGLE DAMNED THING I did tonight. Period.

Don't assault my patrons, people I tutor, or women in general. That makes me very, very angry. And, while you may feel the need to talk smack, to call me a faggot or a bookworm while I'm confronting you on your behavior, please remember that I've lost count of the number of times I've done this in my lifetime.

And the asphalt, or so I'm told, will never taste the same after our not-so-polite conversation has ended.

# # #


Cat. said...


Yes, you must be pissed (in Br. and Am. senses): it's Marion the Librarian.

This raises to TWO men I know of who, this week, have stood up to men abusing women for stupid reasons.

Hell, I'd just like a punch landed for abusing the books, too.

...not that I'm condoning violence...

Have an aspirin and a big breakfast.

And thanks.

Amy said...

hey J. Echoing the cat lady here and saying thanks. see this is the reason why i had the hots for you all last year. do you remember going hitman on a guy outside brickstreet last year because he spit in sarah's face? i've never seen a guy do that before. it was probably one of the coolest thing i saw all through college. i'm told that thereyou're a very honorable man and lol i'm glad there are other ppl who won't stand that shit.

was the girl in high school or something? i remember you telling me about it but i forget the details. was it the same asshole from may? the trailer park guy? and hmm attractive bartenders...i thought you swore off bartenders after the last one ;-P

hope you're doing well. was thinking about you for some reason this morning. might catch you online later :-)get some sleep mr. 5 am :-)

*lynne* (azlynne1972) said...

Always nice to know there are *some* men who actually seem to have a better grasp on right and wrong. Tho I suppose some may say you shouldn't go beating up people even if they deserve it. Not me, though. Too many people abuse "their women" because they know they can get away with it. Thank you for showing one dipshit that he can't.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Zenfo! I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your writing style. It reminds me of Charles Bukowski, almost a real-time beat narrative.

This is by far one of my favorite evening reads. Sorry for the trouble and hope you keep writing!

Smurf said...

Wow Jason. I really like your reasoning in becoming a librarian, that is so cool. I never knew that about you. I didn't know you wanted to change the world through what you do, that gives me so much respect for you. But should I be suprised, naw, you have always been very deep.

The domestic violence on the poor folk thing hits home right now, more than you would imagine. But you know domestic violence can be found in any class, its just much more known in lower class citizens. As for why, I have no clue.

You know one thing that just has been lodged in my head was one particular statistic I learned in my sociology class. The person most likely to commit suicide is a white protestant RICH male. Then they went on to explain, and I think if you analyze that at all you can see why. when you are poor or have less money to start out with, you have to work for what you are getting and it means more to you. You have to learn to work together as a team and you really learn who your friends are. The sad thing is a lot of rich people never know who their REAL friends are. "Do they like me for me or for my money?"

Now here comes the question, is it because strife is very common in low income families that there is so much domestic violence? Do you think the leading cause to domestic violence is strife or do you think there is much more to it? Hmm... that would be something for me to think and ponder on some. lol I know that probably sounds a little strange... like some of it would be a given, but honestly is it? Hmm... anyways... another good post. ttyl :)

alice said...

Well, I won't be messing with you.

HL said...

So you care about this woman? You care about domestic violence? Really? Then why did you just place this woman in greater danger? If you knew anything about domestic violence you would know that what you did accomplished only 2 things: 1. it made you feel better (how does that help the victim), and 2. the boyfriend is now going to be more violent towards this woman. It's a fact, not rocket science. You just placed your patron--that you claim you care so much about--at greater risk. This isn't my opinion, it's my experience. I fight for the rights and protection of victims of domestic violence. I've run a battered women's shelter before & I daily dealt with bruised and raped women and children. I listened to those women and children and asked them what they wanted to happen, what they needed to feel safe. None of their answers had anything to do with me going out and breaking down the door of their abuser and attacking him. That would get them killed. No joke. The worst thing you could have done is what you did---you flared up the situation and now she is going to pay. Consider this, people in abusive situations are advised to not go to couple counseling because the abuser will punish the victim once they get home based on anything she said to the counselor during their session together. A counselor's office is calm--and even in that setting, the abuser will go home and take it out on the victim for telling someone what happened. Looking at that example, what do you think is going to happen to the woman who told you what happened and you go and beat up the guy? Do you really think he is suddenly going to become peaceful? Do you think he is afraid of you? Here's the kicker, he probably is afraid of you now--that's not good--because what do you think an abusive idiot does when he is afraid? He doesn't come after you. He will fuel his need to feel strong and powerful again and will attain that feeling by abusing someone he views as weak (your patron). I know you care about her, but if you really cared about her, you would have listened to her, tell her it wasn't her fault, ask her what she wants to happen now, and encourage her/help her to call the protect hotline that will set this woman up with resources, help, safety, and a safety plan that she can use to escape the next time the guy is about to explode. You could have supported her if she wanted to talk to the police. And hey, you seem to like to tutor, well, you could have sat down with her and help her learn about red flags and warning signs of abusive behavior, options available to people to stay safe. I think you mentioned she was a teen--did you know that there is a teen hotline for teen dating violence? A hotline isn't some lame option--it's a person on the other end of the phone who knows exactly what she is going through. It's a personal connection to safety. It's not some drunken, vigilante response that places her in more danger. You have a chance to still help this woman. Try to do it when you are sober. And this time, try to do it with her safety in mind.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Lol, actually I was more pissed afterwards, hence the the post :) Don't lose my top in situations like this. I have this bizarre ability to in these types of situations. But precision is one thing; eventually there's gotta be some recall - hence the binge-drinking and twitching. ;)

Amy: comment :) Sorry. I did sleep well, though.

Yeah, violence, under what I call "perfect world" scenarios, usually isn't an answer. Sadly, the only "perfect world" that exists is the ones portrayed by blind pacifists, perpetual victims, and those so far out of touch with the real world one questions how they survived into adulthood. Thanks for the support, chica :)

LMAO! Oh, cool! I wasn't expecting that! Thanks! I plan to keep on truckin' :)

Very good points, actually. I've always felt that the reason such behavior is known in lower socioeconomic classes is because the vast majority of those studying choose to examine the poor because, well, its easier to study someone from a larger social class, one that's often completely different from their own backgrounds - I've known way too many researchers in families where one has the economic resources to actually attend good schools, have a choice of universities, etc., in their backgrounds. It's impossible for any human being to remove their bias, and I imagine it would be quite difficult to turn the microscope on one's own backyard and to accept that the shared background may hit too close to home to maintain objectivity. Just a theory, but...

Compare the media coverage, amount of community resources, and public outrage over the events surrounding the Columbine shootings to the everyday violence that's plagued America's inner-cities for decades and ravaged the developing world for decades. How are they different? Or what about the flash-in-the-pan outrage over the Amish school shootings? Locally, news coverage, for instance, often featured relatively affluent school districts beefing up security, offering touchy-feely counseling, etc. One night, a local news outlet spent 2 minutes on suburbia, while giving approx. 30 seconds to a shooting in Cincy's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, one of the most brutal, embarrasing examples of urban poverty I've ever seen.

I wish I could offer answers, but, well...sometimes, there are no answers.

LOL...hey, if there's one person I don't mind messing with me, you should know by now...

Besides, you'd probably take me in a kickboxing ring...I've seen your legs, chica...

(Lol...please tell me this is "Cooper" Alice and not some other

The ZenFo Pro said...

Ahhh...and hl...

First, thanks for stopping by and sharing your opinions. Dissenting views are always welcome and everyone has a right to their views.

But, well, I hope you don't really expect me - someone who was actually on the scene and involved in the situation, someone on the ground without the luxury of playing anonymous online crisis manager - to react to your assumption-laden, reactive comments. I've obviously sparked some emotional response by my post, because, given the thought and time you put into this, you were unable to mask your displeasure at my handling of the situation.

I appreciate your concern, but, well, you are doing nothing more than building up some hypothesis of how events went down based on a few words written on web page - you may not be aware of this, but you really have no idea about the events or the situation involved, because, well, you only have my introspective analysis of my thought process, of my feelings, to go off of.

You see, there's a reason I leave out details on this blog, why I'm very careful to protect the names and identities, the privacy of those involved in situations like this. I'm less worried about libeling someone than I am of someone jumping to conclusions based on an a very human response to gaps in knowledge, i.e. filling in the blanks, based on one's own experiences, background, and observations.

Do you realize that in your comments you have revealed more about your life than I'd ever reveal about mine? Do you really think you're dealing with someone who somehow hasn't been through this sort of thing before? Please. Your analysis is, well, "perfect world" textbook cases, where one is asked to make assumptions based on a limited set of facts. Life, however is not a textbook and massively overstated generalizations rarely apply.

What if, say, you were to learn that I personally deplore violence, that I was not intoxicated at the time of the event? And how do you know, for instance, that I don't have some very real, very hands-on experience? As I posted, I've done this before. You assume the victim was not advised to seek counseling...where, exactly, is that posted? And as for my emotional state? Trust me...I learned a long time ago that one never gets angry in a potentially fatal situation. That, HL, would've caused more harm than good; with all sincerity, I'm glad most folks have never had to learn that.

Oh, and this uncontrollable beast of an assailant? Where was he in my post, exactly? And what about the father? What if I told you, say, that after the incident, I made quite a long nighttime trip to make sure a single parent, who'd been at work at the time, was aprised of the situation and had the legal options explained to him?

As for legal, it sure would be nice if every victim had the luxury of simply calling the authorities, of having them respond with haste, of having them come in and save the day with the help of well-trained, professional couselors who were more than underpaid, overworked social workers, wouldn't it? Or that every victim was, say, a middle- to upperclass legal resident who could afford things like mobile phones not reliant on calling cards to call for help, where caseworkers and the fuzz would understand and not cost their family their future simply for stopping abuse? Wow, such a wonderful world.

Sorry for the sarcarm, but I'm trying to illustrate something here, and since that seems to be the M.O. that you've used, I'll throw it back atcha. Regardless of your knowledge of the subject, you are, frankly, not qualified to make assumptions about me or the situation. You don't know me as anything more than a string of HTML and a neat-o Cascading Style Sheet.

I can almost hear John Lennon's rotting corpse singing sweet lullabies to suburbia right now. What sweet music he makes.

I want to sing hippy folk music, watch the nightly news and forget what it's like to smell steel and gun oil, that time when I negotiated a peace between two men bent on murdering one another. I want to learn to love a peaceful world seen through rose-colored glasses, to forget that I once had to call a watch commander at a military base to prevent another human being from ending their life while in a drug-induced haze. And how I wish I hadn't had to drive someone who reads this blog to an emergency room after her sexual assault, how I hadn't had to learn to sutcher a bullet wound or tell a photog to snap pix of a decapitated 15 year-old or cover a serial killer while a journalist...

Maybe then I'd bother to try to understand why someone has enough time to post a "shame on you" comment on my frigging blog simply because they filled in a few intentional gaps because they wanted to be angry at something, to feed into that "hero" (lol, too funny, huneeb) thing I'm often accused of trying to feed, to be the "righteous expert," the calm, omnipotent voice of suposed reason in a completely batshit world?

And it is a very, very batshit world. And textbook solutions and jumping to conclusions fixes nothing.

I hope this hasn't been to harsh of a response; in all honesty, I wasn't planning to write as much as I have.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit dude. Yeah, saw this and just had to comment. I was a bit upset when I first read the post but then I read the comments. I agree with hl that there are official ways to handle these things but reading your response gave me something to think about, like what good are DV hotlines when someone doesn't have a phone or can't speak english? Ppl who work hotlines and at DV shelters at least the ones Iknow often don't have the resources to deal with every client plus there's the need for professional distance and such. But, yeah, there's no such thing as a perfect case. Wow. Even knowing how Ox Vegas works and having known you online for a while it was easy to just jump to fucking conclusions despite that.

I hope you're not mad that I tried chewing you out online last night and for calling tyou at work. Just wanted to know the real story, buddy :-D

~ Stacy

Smurf said...

That is true. I was mainly posing a question that really can't be answered, but what you are saying is very interesting. You are probably really right because in every class there is domestic violence and it seems like often people with money are able to hide it better? Wow, what a comment above. I am not quite sure what to say if anything about it. The only word that comes to mind is.... wow.

Anonymous said...

Just a point to offer up: DV shelters & DV hotlines have translation services for victims. Many grassroot orgs that work with undocumented and documented immigrants provide help to diverse community members re:DV. And DV hotlines and shelters are often operated by volunteers who are survivors of DV--that increases sensitivity and cultural competancy. It's not textbook, hippy-idealistic, righteous expert, removed work that survivors and professionals do in the DV world--I don't get that point. DV folks know the reality of the streets and barriers to help--over 85% of homeless women and children are homeless because of DV. DV folks know this and go out in the streets--they don't wait for a phone call from someone who doesn't have money even for a payphone. Immigrants are abused at greater frequency than non-immigrants--so dv professionals do grassroot outreach through community informal leaders. There's nothing removed or idealistic about this work. And Smurf was wondering about the socio-eco aspect--background on that is that you're right, it's not that lower income folks are victimized more than others--it's just that those stats are based on that cohort because researchers have access to shelter and hotline data and most people who get help through those venues are people who can't afford to re-locate on their own or go to private counseling. For example, if you looked at the research data that is based on shelters, you wouldn't see that up to 1 in 3 gay men are abused.
P.S. ZenPro, I too thought you were drunk because you wrote: "So I'm drunk. Scratch that. I'm completely shitfaced." And I too thought you used violence because you kept talking about yourself as: "a professional weapon of mass destruction", "a Grade-A hoodlum","going to become somebody's worst fucking nightmare", "the asphalt, or so I'm told, will never taste the same after our not-so-polite conversation has ended." Guess I too, misunderstood you.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Lol, no worries. Why is it, exactly, everyone automatically assumes that I'm going to get mad?? Chica, if there's onething I have, its rather think rhino-like skin :) Yeah, knowing the facts does make it easier. It's my writing style, actually, that seems to be causing quite a bit of confusion I think. See, if there's anyone who can attest to my handling of sensitive situations like this, well, you're one and there are several others, too.

I've also become aware, thanks to a few braver local colleagues and readers who'd rather ask than simply spread gossip, that, lol, who'd a thunk it? Not too many people in my position have the kind of background that I do, that many have never even sat foot in some of the surrounding area's not-so-nice, don't-talk-about-that communities, much less actually lived in one. One of the problems with areas with such great disparities between certain populations, in terms of economic levels, education, and expectations of safety, is that there tends to be quite a few cases of self-imposed, often unintentional, blindness. While my hoodlum past makes me an anomoly at work and elsewhere, it's only because the folks I'm dealing with have never had to fight for survival, known murdered people, or ever had to face death. Seriously, if I hadn't had some very good role models and caught a few lucky breaks, I'd be just an older version of this guy.

Why the heck would I be mad? Opinions are opinions. Words are words.

No worries. As Anon/HL? points out in the comment below, because of the readily-available data one can get from shelters, et al., there tends to be this built-in bias in the data analysis that's extremely difficult to overcome statistically. Factor in the fact that, yes, there are numerous more avenues available for the financially well-off (better mental health care options to the ability to just pay off victims/law enforcement, and yes, even caseworkers - heard it all), and that can easily create the illusion that one group is more succeptible to violence than others.

Again, valid points. Spoken, again, like someone speaking as a well-intentioned advocate (you are obviously passionate about whatever motivates you to be passionate about this topic), but I'm wondering if you've ever actually dealt with the system you're advocating from the user end? Any professional is automatically removed from their product or service, unless they've been both a client and a practioner - hence the success of things like AA, Scared Straight programs, etc., and the general distrust and unwillingness by victims to come forward, because they don't trust the motives of people who haven't experienced what they've experienced.

Being a victim and being a victim's advocate are two very different things. For example, I know of individuals in at least five major metropolitan areas, in three timezones, who've been given advice through various hotlines by rather poorly trained persons, two of whom almost died as a result from the person on the other line - simply because the volunteers/staff in question weren't taught that telephony, by its very nature, is merely a one-sense medium. I myself received some very bad advice from a someone supposedly trained as a counselor, who forgot to disclose that she herself suffered from the same personality disorder (a high-functioning Borderline) as two of my exes. (And thank goodness for the ability to seek out second and third opinions.)In fact, I've even had caseworkers, probation officers, and, yes, random anonymous IMers share similar stories. While the intention is there, I'm not sure things are as affective as one would hope...

Victims experience these services from what information science folks call the "end-user" side of things; counseling, like librarianship actually, suffers from the same affliction - using source statistics to bolster a need for better services because its hard to get good, qualitative information that measures success rates of programs beyond individual accounts.

As for the off-the-cuff comment about idealism, well, forgive me for being cynical - and yes, you're quoting textbook stats but really not conveying any personal stake - beyond possibly a professional one - in actually resolving conflicts. Reads a it like a blog-abridged version of a DSM-V section, actually. How many times have you ever actually witnessed those statistics stop, say, a bullet? The truth is, they don't. But they do help in their own way.

And, well, again, I seem to have struck a nerve - there's no need for feeling as if you need to defend DV advocates. It's only natural that people in different parts of the world have different perspectives based on their backgrounds. I appreciate the fact, actually, that you were willing to jump in and actually add your two cents.

I think part of the tension here is, as I've had three different people in this field who work in this area now tell me privately, is the fact that you're probably not familiar with my writing style, many of my earlier experiences, and the fact that I carefully word everything sometimes causes confusion. The passages you've quted, I believe, all contained the verb was, as in past-tense. And yes, I was all of those things. We're talking euphemism here, too. There are still police officers in my hometown who remember me by old nicknames, people who still want me to sit on porches drinking forties with a "crub" (a short wrecking bar wrapped in batting tape, a Dirty South thang) on my lap and a case to plot. Comes in handy sometimes, like when an individual decides to take a swing at you and you're foced to defend yourself :) Of course, I'm sure there's a hotline for that, too (j/k)

Nice snap at the end. Oooh. Sarcasm. Care to play the dozens sometime? ;)

Smurf said...

YOu know this whole topic is rather interesting. You see, I am a victim of domestic violence. I have seen a lot over the years and it took me a while to get out of the denial stage and realize that is really where I was. I find so many of the this is the way it is things very interesting. The biggest thing Ihave to say about all of the things that are being said is that because Domestic Violence happens to people and there are so many variables in the situation, there is no ONE RIGHT way to handle any of it. Its good to be prepared to give them resources. But then you have to realize a lot of us are afraid of leaving at this time or that because one, like said above, we become homeless and two if we go to the shelther, will they take away our kids? I left my husband and then was abused even worse physically than in the other place. I had to quit my job because of the PTSD that my children especially my son were experiencing. So when I ask questions like that I was merely thinking outloud and contemplating. The domestic violence I am in and have been in is directly related to stress. And I guess I was curious if I am alone in that or if its as common. I am not like TV portrays certain people to be, but then again is me saying that my denial? I am not sure. But this is all very interesting and I am enjoying reading what all of you have to say. YOu are all very intelligent you can tell by you well thought out answers.