Michael Fahey: The day I saw a man snoring in the library – and had to decide whether to wake him up or not

Posted on November 5, 2013

I often go into the public library to read the daily papers while my wife goes shopping.

I was ten minutes into the Guardian one day, when this young guy (in his thirties, a little bit shabby, with a bulging carrier bag) sits down across from me, picks up the Daily Mirror, spreads the pages over his knees…

…and falls asleep.

That’s the Daily Mirror for you! Shortly afterwards, his head fell back and his lips started burbling away.

Now, being profoundly deaf myself, he wasn’t troubling me. But then I started thinking: ‘Is this guy making a noise? You know, actually snoring his head off in a public library, disturbing around twenty people?’

So I surreptitiously peeped over the top of the letters page to look at other people in the library – who I presumed had all their senses intact – to see them peeping over the top of their own choice of reading material, and (since I was sat closest to the guy) they seemed to be saying to me with their eyes: ‘well go on, wake him up!’

‘Not a chance,’ I thought, ‘do your own dirty work.’ I then stuck my head back in my paper and continued reading it in peace!

A few minutes later a little old lady (who was reading The Sun, by god!) got up, collected her bags and walked off up the stairs.

Two minutes after that, a big shaven headed security guard bounds down, looks around, and stalks straight over to the lad (who by now must have been making a hell of a din, judging from all the frowns), pokes him gently awake and tells him off for falling asleep in the library – before warning him that he would throw him out if he did it again.

The poor guy said: “Whaaa… I’m reading the paper! I must have just closed my eyes.“ The security man looked at him fiercely, shook his index finger and went back up the stairs.

The lad shook the paper, turned over the page, looked around at everyone, nodded, smiled, put his head down into the paper and – you guessed it – fell asleep again!

I would have loved to have seen what happened next, but my wife arrived and I had to go. That was the end of an entertaining little episode in my daily life.

Mike is a semi-retired fine artist working from his home studio in Lancashire. As a profoundly deaf lip reader, he is just one of a large family with a genetic history of deafness. Mike attended a mainstream school before being transferred to a school for the deaf aged 11. He worked as a landscape gardener for thirty years and married Sara (who is hearing), then attended university as a mature student and gained a BA and MA in Fine Art. He is father to a son (hearing) and daughter (deaf on one side) and is currently preparing for cochlear implant surgery.

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