An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Best Patrons EVER

I spend a lot of time here telling tales about the worst patrons who visit the "liberry" and writing up Rogues Gallery lists for them, but I've not spent much time on the best patrons.

If I were to write a Best Patrons EVER list, the Asners (not their real name) would be at the top of the list. Unlike some families who frequent the library (such as the Fagins--which is not their real name, though I shouldn't care if I wrote their real name here as we have documented proof of their many years of treachery and theft), the Asner's are simply wonderful, wonderful patrons.

Mr. and Mrs. Asner have five or six kids, (they're hard to count because they're never all in at once, though frankly we wouldn't mind if they were). These kids must come from some kind of angelic genetic stock, cause they're all just the best-behaved, most polite, loving, cherubic, bright and beautiful children you'd ever care to know. Most of them are probably around year or two apart in age, ranging from, I'm guessing, 12 down to 2 (and the youngest is, in fact, the Cutest Baby in all the World, bar none). They're always just quiet and helpful and polite and everything you could ever wish for in children. I've never seen them angry or even a little upset. I've never seen them sad or crying. They obey their parents without question, with nary a tantrum if the don't get to check out something they want. I think I can say with full conviction that the Asner kids are the best children I've ever encountered. They're just a joy. I've told Mrs. Asner exactly that.

And better patrons have yet to be born! Most patron families of their size load up each and every child's card with the full limit in books and videos, which makes for a freakin' long checkout time and check in time, should they return with all they borrowed, which they never do. The cards of most families of that size are a tangle of overdues and even blocked patron records due to unreturned books from decades past (See: The Fagins). Not so with the Asners. They're a librarian's fantasy come to life. They never take more than they need in books or videos, almost always less than half the 10 item limit, and they always bring them back well before the due date or call to renew. There's never a fine to be seen or a lost book unfound. And they read quality stuff. Even the little ones, who love the Magic School Bus series and Winn!e the P00h, but never get mindless pap like Barn3y or T3letubbies.

I don't know how Mr. & Mrs. Asner managed to do it, but I know their house is a loving one.

And it's been something of a family tradition that as they reach the front door to depart, the Asner girls almost always turn around and sweetly tell us, "God bless you" before leaving. (They even say it on their answering machine.)

Now I know this sounds like a very Ned Flandersy sort of family, but it SO does not come off like that at all in person. It's utterly genuine. And for me, a guy who has to suffer through bitter patron after bitter patron (some of whom are the grumpiest people in all the world), the Asners are refreshing.

As to the Asner's secret behind their amazing family-skills, I firmly believe it lies somewhere in their daughter's parting quote.

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