When I was employed as a shelver at the library, I was one of the oldest. I was working with high school kids while I was in my forties. But, I got along well with them. It was some of the patrons that were a little rough.
I had been told on day one to be on the look out for a man who frequented the location and would perversely snap pictures of the workers. I was always aware of my surroundings and who approached me.
Some of the places I had to put the heaviest books, usually in the reference section, were high up. And that section was the most secluded, it seemed. So not only did I have to lift the weight up over my head, but I often stood on my tiptoes to reach. This was probably the most challenging part of the job.
I actually felt him breathing loudly on me before I turned around.
“Well, aren’t you just vertically challenged,” he whispered down my back.
There was a tone to the voice that had me instinctively move to protect myself.
I let go of the large volume I had in my hand, sending out a loud thud like a bomb. I backed up so I could see who had invaded my space.
The smell that surrounded him indicated he had not been near a deodorant stick for a while, and he had this crooked smile of yellow teeth.
He came towards me, and I grabbed my cart and put it between us.
“I’m looking for documentaries. Can you help me find those?”
“Over there,” I said, indicating the farthest corner on the other end of the building away from me.
He moved closer.
“I want you to show me.”
The last thing I ever want to do in situations like this is seem afraid. Somehow along the way, I learned how to flip into another mode to combat an unwanted advance.
I never want to bring out my best weapon in my arsenal, but I do when it’s necessary. I cannot see what I look like when someone has gone beyond their boundaries with me, but my girls have said it’s frightening after they have witnessed me doing this in public.
And from the look that came across his face, I knew I was doing whatever that was.
“I believe you are capable of walking yourself in the direction I have indicated. It’s a few short steps away from here, but the people at the reference desk can help you if you get lost on the way there.”
I saw his body language change from aggressive to defeated. Like a dog that had been reprimanded, he hung his head, turned, and walked away.
On another occasion, I had to wear a shirt for a week to promote an event that the library was hosting. Typically, I embrace the idea of not deciding what to wear to a job, especially one where I spent a lot of time crawling on the floor putting books away.
The downside to this was what was written in bold letters across the back: Please ask me for help!
That is like walking into a room full of hungry wolves wearing meat.
Within moments of my shift starting, I had to put something on the tallest shelf. Both of my hands were occupied, and I was again trying to elevate myself up.
There were times when the spaces between the books were too big, so I had to bring an entire row together, hold that and slide a metal bar down to keep it there. All of this while I’m stretching to make myself reach.
A low voice spoke into the back of my head, near my right ear, making my hair move, so way too close for my comfort.
“I could use your help.”
It made me jump, but I executed the same technique as before by putting distance between myself and him.
“Your shirt says I am to ask you for help.”
“Yes, it does. But it isn’t a requirement,” I said.
I had a feeling he wasn’t there for reading material. He towered over me with this weird smile, expecting me to speak or go into fake friendly mode. For some reason, he thought I would be an easy target.
That was part of the problem for the younger girls who did this job. They would end up trying to back out of an intimidating situation with laughing and small talk, which only seemed to prolong the awkward and uncomfortable encounter. I had a few of them run to me afterward just to feel safe.
I did none of that. I continued to stare him down, waiting for the realization to hit.
I saw the same wilting look as he became more aware that his approach toward me was unacceptable.
I was in the mystery section, next to many titles about murder.
He tried to fill in the blank space with words.
“Uh. So…uh..can you tell me where the newspapers are?”
I pointed in the direction that they were kept. He stood there, blinking, waiting for a reaction from me. When he got nothing, he slunk away.
One of the most elusive people was the visitor, who seemed like a phantom. I wasn’t even sure if this was a female or a male, but they went out of their way to find and display every book the library had about human anatomy. I would be moving along quickly, returning items where they belonged, and would stumble right into their handiwork of propped open material that was not rated for general audiences.
I took issue when I started to find them in the children’s section. I wanted so badly to catch this individual.
One evening, as I approached the young adult selections, an elderly lady almost ran into me. Her eyes were huge, and she looked alarmed.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
If she had been wearing pearls, she would have been clutching them.
Trying to spit the words out and short of breath, she said,
“That shouldn’t be there!”
I walked into the aisle where she came from and found at least ten titles standing up, opened for all to see. I pulled them all down. She unknowingly had strolled through skin row.
“That’s terrible!” She said as I came back.
“I know. We have someone I am trying to catch. I’m sorry that happened to you.”
She staggered away.
There was an inconclusive sighting where one of the front desk employees saw a middle-aged man running to his car right after I found his signature calling card. I wanted so badly to get this person. I came close, but again, they dodged me, and I only saw a blur. It was like trying to grab wind. Big Foot got away, and after he was almost apprehended, it quit.
I actually came across something even a bit more ominous than that. And like that situation, it wasn’t easy to comprehend.
Sometimes, while in certain places working, books would fly off shelves. At first, I thought it was gravity, but some were coming from tightly in line places. They were holding each other up, leaving no room for anything to tip over.
I would stop, pick it up, and put it back. Once this started, it would continue in other rows around me. Usually, I was alone, but one time as I heard one hit the floor, a woman said,
“How did that happen?”
I popped my head around to see what she was talking about.
“That book looked like something pulled it off the shelf.”
“I don’t know,” I said as I fit it back into its space.
I tried to implement the same approach I had with intimidating humans coming in. Don’t engage too much, and move on.
Then I heard that there was talk of a ghost or two roaming around. I started praying over myself for protection, just in case. With all the energies entering that location, I just felt it was necessary.
What would it hurt? It could ward off real-life creepers as well as anything ominous in the unseen realm.
I had no inclination to engage with whatever was following me. If I sensed something near me, I would start talking to God. And within moments, I would feel it leave.
“I don’t believe in that stuff!” said a young coworker of mine. He and I usually worked evenings together.
Highly intelligent and extremely likable, he and I always found subjects to discuss and made each other laugh. He was nearing the end of high school with a career aimed at using his natural abilities in architecture.
His nature was to see fiction versus reality very clearly. There didn’t seem to be room in his way of thinking for any grey areas, such as a spirit wandering at his place of employment. He had great insight into solving problems for his age, but this was too much for his belief system that was a little bit on the black and white side.
This was a topic we parted ways on.
“I believe in it. I just try not to disturb anything.”
“This is not real!”
I looked at him and shook my head.
“Listen. Don’t tempt it. Just don’t say anything else.”
It was the end of the night, and we were in the back setting up carts for the next day’s workers.
He looked right at me and said defiantly,
“Hey, ghost! Come get me!”
“No! I wouldn’t do…”
I tried to warn him.
We had lanyard name tags around our necks that had a stretchy cord. Suddenly, as if someone had taken a pair of scissors, the line on his was snipped real quick, and his photo fell to the floor at his feet.
He looked at me like he had seen a..well..you know..
And, he let out a slight scream.
“I told you to stop!” I said, laughing.
He couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
I had always been taught never to disturb a bee’s nest, and much like that, interacting with a spirit I don’t know, I had learned to shield myself with the first line of defense not to antagonize. Second, I asked for angels to surround me.
It takes discernment to know how to navigate your way through certain circumstances. This is when hearing God’s voice is imperative. Some might have told me to “cast” out that spirit. Some might have said to hug it. At that moment, it wasn’t my job to “fix it.” I did what the voice of the Creator told me to do. Ignore it and carry on.
The same way with the two men who approached me. My reaction in those situations was to send a message that the door was slammed shut and there would be no exchange of energy between us. I had no guilty conscience doing so, hoping that they would stop behaving that way toward me and others.
It takes practice just like anything else to know what to do, how, and when. But that’s the great thing about having heaven speak directly to you.
One of the areas I spent a significant amount of my time reshelving was in self-help. The name can imply that you are working out your issues on your own, and many people must be doing so with the number of books I was putting back.
If you view authors as voices, that’s a lot of talking and advice. While I have found much inspiration from that, it can also become contradictory, leading to confusion. What works for one may not be the answer for another.
But, God knows you through and through because you were a special design put here for a specific purpose.
In Matthew 7:7, it says,
Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. (TLB)
If you are looking for an exclusive answer made just for you, all you have to do is make a request, and it will show up. It will be extremely accurate, give you exactly what you need for the situation, and always comes with peace.
Following God’s voice over all else won’t ever come back to haunt you.