When I was a little girl, my mouth was always getting me in trouble. I was a little sassy, a little too smart for my own good, and always having to get the last word (still true), but mostly in a “think before you speak” way, a phrase Mama Bear and Daddio repeated countless times before it finally sunk in. I don’t think I was ever overtly disrespectful, let’s be clear – I was just word vomiting all over the place without thought about what would follow.
So would someone please remind the teens in Teen Space that 95% of the problems that are caused there are from them opening their mouths? Tonight’s incident was a perfect, perfect example.
A bunch of teens were working on computers when their friends came in and started chatting. Which is fine – we want Teens to be a social space, but not too loud. So a couple of times my coworker W and I asked them to quiet down, to lower their voices.
Finally, after about the third or fourth warning, I told them that they had lost their privileges and had to leave because they couldn’t keep their voices down. One or two of them did leave, but the others just stayed and looked at me as if I’d grown three heads.
As I was repeating myself (sigh), Boss walked in, saw what was happening, and called security, just for reinforcements.
(We didn’t think it would escalate, but then again, we hope nothing does. Often we’ll have security come and do a walk-through, just to establish a presence, but clearly Boss had some sixth sense about what was going to happen.)
The talky teens kept ignoring me right up until three (!) security officers walked in, and I mentioned to them that we had some loud patrons who had been asked to leave, but were a little slow about it, and pointed out the teens in question.
With some prodding by security, all of the teens left, some less voluntarily than others, until one – we shall call her Teen Girl – decided to get a little mouthy, and this is where all the trouble started.
Teen Girl had left her bag behind and came back into Teens complaining that “that woman” (me, I suppose) hadn’t made it clear that she needed to leave, and “that woman” (again, me) was an ass. Which, for the record, I had made it very clear that she needed to leave, and I am many things, but I am not an ass.
A security officer who heard that told Teen Girl sharply that she had to watch her mouth. To this, Teen Girl began to word vomit all over the place, and responded that she didn’t have to watch her fucking mouth, that she could do whatever the fuck she wanted, and that, dear readers, is when Teen Girl was put into physical restraints, and escorted to the security office, yelling “fuck this” and “fuck that” all the way down the hall.
Had Teen Girl quieted down the first three times I’d asked, it would have been nothing. Had Teen Girl just taken her stuff and left when I asked, it would have been nothing. If she had just taken her stuff when the security officers asked, it would have been nothing. But later I ran into the responding officer in the hallway and thanked him for the assistance. He told me that not only had Teen Girl been yelling bloody murder all the way to the elevators, she physically attacked him and another officer in the elevator and would probably be going to jail.
All of that could have been prevented if she had just kept her mouth shut.
[Here’s something else that occurred to me. (And I may be sounding a little “hey, you kids, get off my lawn,” so do forgive me.) But after the teen was escorted out, one of the remaining teens commented to her friends that if her mother had ever heard of security personnel laying a hand on her, she would have come down and raised hell.
One, if my parents had heard that security personnel had put their hands on me after a confrontation, they would have:
a) gotten the whole story from both me and security, and woe to me if I lied about any of it;
b) sided almost certainly with the security officers;
c) shaken the security officers’ hands, invited them to dinner, and given them their cell numbers to call immediately if I caused any more trouble;
d) really let me have it when I got home. Punished me till forever and a day for being disrespectful to an adult.
That kind of disrespect was not, and never will be, tolerated in my parents’ minds. Ever. And let me state here and now, I would never have spoken to an adult that way – Little Miss Prissypants-Youth-Group-Bookworm me would have been too scared. I would have sworn and dropped f-bombs at adults just as soon as I would have tried to juggle chainsaws.
Two, if you’re old enough to swear at security and get all kinds of defiant, you’re old enough to face the consequences of your actions without calling your mama down.]
A final thought: Did Teen Girl really think that she was going to win an argument with security? That she could cuss them out twelve ways from Sunday and think that she was just going to waltz out of the library? I mean, come on. Was it worth it?
*shaking my head*