Dave Wrobel came to the library to study. As a non-traditional student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Wrobel has found that he focuses best when he's not tempted by the TV or fridge or any other distractions in his south-county home.
But Wrobel hadn't bargained on cell phones.
Whenever he tried to study at the Tesson Ferry branch of St. Louis County Public Library, he says, he was plagued by all the blabbing. "It happens every time," Wrobel says. "There are signs all over -- 'No Cell Phones' and 'Quiet Study Area.' But people answer their phones and just start talking away."
And so it was on the evening of February 14. Wrobel had an exam to work on -- but the man seated a few tables away answered his cell phone and seemed to be in no hurry to wrap things up.
Wrobel had had enough. This time, he spoke up -- and set off a brawl so vicious that both men ended up requiring medical attention.
And, to his consternation, Wrobel, the guy who tried to enforce the rules, now finds himself banned from the county library.
As Wrobel tells it, he'd been working about ten minutes that February evening when the man a few tables over answered his phone and began chatting away. "I sat there and waited awhile, thinking it's going to end," he recalls. "It didn't."
So Wrobel, 55, picked up one of the table-top signs banning cell phone use and placed it directly in front of the gabber, pointing at it for good measure.
The man looked up -- and flipped him off, mouthing, "Fuck you." He did not hang up the phone.
When Wrobel told the librarian what had just transpired, she stopped by and asked the man to refrain from cell phone use. At that point, he finally hung up. But the minute the librarian was back at her station, the man had words for Wrobel -- mainly, Wrobel says, he threatened him. "I'm going to beat your fucking ass," he recalls the man saying. "I'm going to wait for you outside." And then he stormed out.
Wrobel is 55 years old, with wire rimmed glasses and a neat white goatee. The other man was bigger and younger -- 38 years old, or so the guy later told the police.
"I saw him walk out towards the front of the library," Wrobel recalls, "and I said, 'Is he actually going out there to beat me up?'" Part of him wondered, he admits, whether the man had a gun.
Adrenaline flowing, he raced toward the librarian's desk and told them to call the police. "There's going to be an incident," he warned. Then, without thinking, he stepped outside to see if the man was still there.
"He came at me, and I put 'em up," Wrobel says.
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