Viktor is Russian, retired, former computer programmer/hacker. Looks like a down and out department store Santa Claus, so much so that I asked him once if he’d ever had that job. It was the season. You can tell he needs the money. And he’s usually jolly.

“Yes,” he said, smiling ruefully. “I did. One time. In Russia. In Russia, they call him Father Christmas. I was Father Christmas one time.”

“You could do it now,” I enthused. “You’re perfect. You’re just the type they’re looking for.”

“Never again!” he insisted, shaking his head in disgust. “It was bad. The parents bad as the kids. And the kids smell like piss!”

Viktor always asks for a Research computer and will spend as many hours as he can get to read and hear news on Russian-language sites. Sometimes I see him working on computer code. Who knows–maybe Viktor is the Russian spy who hacked the Democratic Party files.

I was working the afternoon shift on the day after Christmas when Viktor arrived on the library shuttle bus. A curious smile played on his mouth as he approached my desk, removing something from a plastic grocery bag. “For you,” said Viktor, carefully placing an orange on the counter. When I stammered my thanks and could feel my cheeks flushing red, he said: “So rare you smile.”


Joe Blow was managing the desk yesterday when I arrived. The first time I’d seen him  out of his office in weeks. “You know the old guy that comes in on the shuttle every day?” said Joe Blow. “That Russian guy named Viktor?”

“Viktor. Sure, I know who you mean. He’s here every day.”

“Well,” said Joe, “you wouldn’t sign him up for a 5-hour turn, would you?”

“Ha,” I laughed. “That Viktor. He likes to joke.”

“He’s a joker,” Joe Blow agreed. “But you wouldn’t do that, would you?”

“Of course not. He gets one hour at a time. Just like everybody else.”

“That’s what I thought. He must have been kidding me about that.”

Joe left and Viktor arrived at his usual time, asking for his usual 5-hour turn on a Research Computer.

“Sorry, no more five hour turns.”

“Because why?”

“Because Joe Blow says so.”

“”Who is Joe Blow?”

“Joe Blow is the boss.”

“That guy that was just here? He is Boss?” Viktor snorted in derision. “Again! Why is that? Stupidest guy is always Boss!”

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