Saturday, February 28, 2004


I have something of a love/hate relationship with working Saturdays at the "liberry."

On the one hand, it's usually fairly quiet and peaceful, as opposed to most week days. On the other hand, I gotta get up early on a Saturday and come in. Plus I have to deal with mailing out all the interlibrary loan returns that have accumulated throughout the week. It's not the least complicated process and it's one I don't usually have to fuss with. Miss E, our weekend "Liberry" Ass. is usually responsible for doing it, but I'm subbing for her today since she was nice enough to sub for me during the play. Trouble is, I work Saturdays so infrequently that I have just enough time to forget how to do the ILLs before I have to come back to do them again.

But we have had a parade of colorful patrons today.

  • Mr. B-Natural popped in for his daily visit to his favorite computer crossword puzzle website. For a guy who's the grumpiest man in all the world, he's usually far less grumpy on Saturdays and has even been known to help us carry books in from the book return box of his own volition. Not today, when I'm working, mind you, but Miss E says he helps her all the time.

  • Matilde the Cranky Wiccan followed shortly thereafter. I've not spoken of Matilde before, cause there's really not much to speak of. She drives around in a beat up old car with lots of pro-pagan bumper stickers, like "Goddess Bless America" and "Wiccans Rule!" She's not a Liberry Rogue, per se, as she rarely does anything rogueish outside of occasionally being cranky. See, Matilde's one of the full-fledged members of the Liberry Internet Crowd, a loose and varied group of people who only come to the library for our internet access and may or may not even have cards with us. As such they tend to be very cranky about anything that interferes with them getting their Internet Fix. They get cranky when the computers are all full and they can't use one immediately. They get cranky if they have to wait ANY length of time for one to open up. They get cranky when the internet isn't working properly, as has been the case for over a week now. They get cranky when their time runs out and you tell them they have to get off the computers and let someone else have a turn. Mr. B-Natural is, of course, their king. We've not really had a queen before, but Matilde the Cranky Wiccan might fit the bill, not only for her computer useage but for her relationship to Mr. B-Natural as well. See, they actually LIKE one another. In fact, just about the only time either of them have been observed to display traits of happiness and good will is when they're in one another's presence. Scarier than that is the way they greet one another. Matilde walks in, see's Mr. B-Natural and issues forth a gutteral, sultryish, "Hey, baby" or "Hey, Sexy" to which Mr. B-Natural smiles and appears friendly. This is disturbing on so many levels.
  • Mr. Smiley, the second grumpiest man in all the world, also popped in for a visit. He wasn't particularly grumpy today either, but didn't seem too happy that none of his many interlibrary loans had come in. I was thankful that he brought one of his old ones back, just in time for me to pack it up and send off. I was laying money that I'd get all the ILL stuff packed up and then nine people would walk in with more, but it didn't go down like that.
  • And, finally, we had a visit from Cap'n Crossdresser, who was decked out in a knee-length little black skirt with matching pumps and a darkish coat that I'm sorry to report I didn't get a good look at. Not sure why he's on the Rogue list, come to think of it. He's actually one of the nicer patrons we have and has never given us any trouble. He just likes to dress up in women's clothing. No crime there.
  • Thursday, February 26, 2004

    Actual Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #1


    ME: Tri-Metro County Public Library.

    FEMALE CALLER: Yeah, um, what's the number of the fifth Harry Potter book?

    ME: What's the number of the fifth Harry Potter book?

    CALLER: Yeah.

    ME: That would be five.


    CALLER: What?

    ME: Five. The number of the fifth book in the Harry Potter series is five.

    CALLER: Oh. I meant, `what's the title?'

    ME: That would be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

    CALLER: No, the fifth book!

    ME: That is the fifth book.

    CALLER: Really? Well, what's the sixth one.

    ME: There is no sixth one.

    CALLER: Yeah there is.

    ME: Nope. There will be seven but she's still got two books to go.

    CALLER: Really?

    ME: Really. (SENSING DISBELIEF) There's Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. That's all five.

    CALLER: Oh. Well.... Thanks.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2004

    The Defeat and Utter Humiliation of Mrs. Carol Satan

    Ahh, what a most blessed and glorious day it has been. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I got to help put Mrs. Carol Satan in her place.

    I'd been at work for only a couple of hours when she arrived. I knew her before I saw her by smelling the thick haze of cigarette smoke and brimstone that flowed ahead of her to announce her presence. She dropped a stack of 6 women's novels on the desk and slunk over in the direction of Mrs. C, our librarian. Mrs. C was having an in-person conversation with Mr. Rob, the librarian from the neighboring community college, and she, quite correctly, didn't feel it necessary to pause her conversation in the slightest just because Mrs. Carol Satan wanted a word.

    While this was going on, I checked Carol Satan's patron record and saw she was still on hold for Danielle Steel's book Dating Game, which she had been on hold for a couple months ago, back when she decided to tear me a new one because she was four days late picking it up.

    For a moment, I considered being the kind and helpful liberry ass. that I usually am and going over to the shelf where I had left the book she wanted sitting for all these weeks and getting it for her. Then I remembered the holy hell she raised for something that was her own damn fault and all the lies she told to try and cover it up. I left Danielle Steel alone and returned to the desk.

    In the meantime, Mrs. Carol Satan wandered the shelves, selected several more books and came up to the desk where I checked them out to her. I would just like to say that I was sickeningly sweet and cheerful to her. A passing diabetic went into a coma.

    Unfortunately, about that time Mrs. C allowed a chink in her conversation and it was long enough for Carol to jump in with a question.

    "Did you ever find that book you said I had out?" she belched.

    Mrs. Carol Satan, see, had a book out—ironically, Adam's Fall, by Sandra Brown. The last time she was in, last Thursday, Mrs. Carol Satan swore she had returned the book to us the previous Monday. She swore she had put it in the book return. She swore she never keeps books late because she always keeps library books in the SAME EXACT PLACE in her house and she NEVER forgets them. EVER.

    "No, we still haven't found it," Mrs. C told her.

    "Well I brought it back! I remember it very clearly because I brought it in with me last Thursday and I laid it on the desk."

    Last Thursday, if you will recall from two paragraphs ago, is exactly the day she complained that she had put Adam's Fall in the book return the previous Monday. Already Mrs. Carol Satan has been caught in a lie.

    "Yes, I remember," Mrs. Carol Satan continued to spew, "I remember I put my books here and there was a... well, a... a good sized girl behind the counter. And I remember she didn't check my books in right away."

    "Yes, ma'am," Mrs. C said. "She is one of our staff members here. "

    "And I remember that there were all these..."—and at this point, she dropped her voice down to a low, tar-crusted whisper—"these retarded people running around in here. And they were looking at the shelves and they were over here," she said, pointing to the desk. "Any one of them could have picked it up."

    Now this hell-belching gorgon was blaming our mentally-handicapped patrons for stealing her stupid late book—a late book, I might add, that we wouldn't have charged her a fine for ANYWAY because of some computer issues we're going through at the moment. Forget about the fact that this walking poster-child for Not Smoking is lying to begin with because it was on that very previous Thursday, Feb 19, that Mrs. C asked her about Adam's Fall for the very first time

    I don't know how, but Mrs. C remained diplomatic. She explained to Mrs. Carol Satan that despite the fact that we did take the book return apart and had not found Adam's Fall within it and despite the fact that the book still wasn't on our shelf, we would continue looking for it and would she please do the same.

    "I don't need to look for it! I brought it back already!" Carol bellowed. And Carol continued to bellow on in a similar loud manner. Mrs. C decided to leave Carol to it, and she left the desk entirely to go look for a book for another patron who had wandered in during Carol's earlier diatribe.

    After venting her foul air for a while, Carol stomped for the door, pausing briefly to look back and say, "I may be crazy about a lot of things, but I'm not crazy when it comes to bringing back my library books!" She then slammed the door and was gone.

    "It ain't library books that's made her crazy," I told Mr. Rob, who had witnessed the whole scene in amazement. He laughed. I then started to tell him about my previous deadly encounter with Mrs. Carol Satan when the door suddenly flew open and in she came.

    Carol was no longer fiercely angry. In fact, Carol looked positively befuddled. Still, she managed a nervous sort of laugh as she teetered up to the desk clutching a lone book in her talon, one Adam's Fall by one Sandra Brown.

    "I looked in the last place I could think of," she said. "It was under my car-seat."

    "Ahhhhhhhhh!" I said in what I gauged was a slightly maniacal-sounding degree of wonderment.
    "It must have fallen down between the seat and the door when I put my books in the other day."

    "Yeah, that'd do it," I said.

    "So I guess I... had it... all along," she said. She turned and left, forked tail tucked between her legs, cloven-hooves clattering on the floor.

    Sure, she didn't actually come close to apologizing for raising such a stink. Nevertheless, it was an admission of guilt I will savor for weeks to come. Mrs. C and her friend rushed back in to join the celebration. If we'd had champagne, the cork would have been popped and bubbly poured all round. The great and powerful Mrs. Carol Satan had been defeated....

    ...for now.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2004

    Now that's EVEN MORE Monday for your ass!

    The rest of my Monday went pretty typically for a Monday, which is to say bursts of chaos followed by periods of downtime, punctuated by incessant phones ringing with caller after caller saying either "What time do you close?" or "Can I renew my books?" or "Is Mrs. C/Mrs. A there?" I knew that was going to happen. Every single time Mrs. A goes out of town, the world comes apart with people who seem to think their butts are going to implode if they don't speak with her right this very minute. When Mrs. A's not in, they'll settle for Mrs. C. But Mrs. C was out of town too and Mrs. A is on the other side of the country on vacation at the moment. So I got to hear the sound of several asses imploding throughout the day. The truly frustrating thing is that most of the people who call to ask to speak to A or C know good and damn well neither are in. As soon as you say it, they tell you, "Oh, yeah. I knew that." Then why did you bother to call?

    I also had to interrupt making copies for a needy patron to answer a call from a guy who said, "Do you know the number to the DMV? I tried looking it up in the phone book but I couldn't find it."

    "No, I don't know the number to the DMV," I said, deciding not to point out to him that we were a library and NOT directory service and therefore should not be expected to know such things. Story of my life, really. When I worked in radio people called for even goofier numbers than that. Somehow if you're in mass media or library work you're considered a depository of knowledge to be consulted at whim and leisure.

    I tried looking up the DMV's number for the guy in the phone book myself, trying the WV STATE LISTINGS section and giving him a play by play of my phone-book. In the guy's defense, the DMV seems to have gone out of its way to remain unlisted. All I could find was an 800 number for a statewide line where anyone calling it had about as much hope of speaking to a real person as I did calling my bank this morning.

    At 4:30 I started trying to get my closing duties taken care of, calling the holds, counting the till, trash taking, etc. But I couldn't count the till. Mabel the Amateur genealogist was still back on the computer, printing out dozens of pages that at .10 a pop were going to become a factor in my end of the day tallying. Why bother to count the money in the cash box when I'd just have to make change with it for Mabel's prints, destroying my count and making me have to do math?

    At 4:56 the last wave of patrons began. Like I said, none of them are aware of our Monday 1-5 p hours despite their decade long existence, so 5 O'Clock is no reason for them to slow down. Fortunately, most of the people who walked through the door at 4:56 were with my favorite patrons, the Asner family. I whispered to them that we were about to close, but gave em free reign to go find some books quickly. Right on their heels, at 4:59, was a couple I'd not seen before, returning their books. I've dubbed them Mr. and Mrs. Thrill. After dropping the books on the desk, they began slowly meandering around the room in browse-mode.

    "Uh, just to let you know we're closing in about one minute," I said.

    The man gave me a deeply dirty look and said, "Whuut?"

    "We close at 5 on Mondays," I said. "You're welcome to look around quickly and find something, if you like," I added--after all, I had a children's room full of Asner kids who weren't exactly rushing. The man wasn't happy about this, though. His dirty look got even dingier, bordering on and then crossing over into insulted.

    "That ain't no good. People don't get off work til fiiiive," he said.

    "I understand, sir. That's why we only close at five on Monday. The rest of the week we're open til 7, but we do close at 5 on Monday."

    This didn't help. His wife, meanwhile, was in a tizzy-panic trying to decide what to look for in the ten whole seconds I'd allotted her to find a book. After the inner egg-timer in her head dinged off, she turned to her husband and threw up her hands in defeat.

    "Pick you something out," he said.

    "But, I don't... I... They... They're closed," she said.

    "Go on and pick you something out," he told her, but she was too far gone to even try. "We ain't coming back," he told her on their way out the door. Hmm. Our loss.

    After the Asners had gone at 5:05, it took another 10 minutes to close the rest of the joint down. I half expected patrons to continue pounding on the door to get in, but there was nary a knock.

    Got home to find out has canceled the order of pendants that our smarmy CAsshole made with our card. They're also crediting our account the amount they'd charged, so it looks as though we won't have to contest anything. We'll just have to file the police report and hope their brethren in San Diego can figure out what's going on and hopefully prosecute whoever did it.

    We're still not sure how they got the credit card number in the first place. Ash had used it on-line early the morning of the new mystery purchases, but the site she used it at was a secure one. We're thinking she may have gotten an e-mail worm virus that could have spied it and mailed it on. So now we're having to erase and reinstall her laptop to try and get rid of any creepy crawlies.

    Chester and the Narrowly Averted Trip to the Hurt Locker

    Mrs. C was out of town on yet another meeting today, so Mrs. B and I held down the fort at the liberry, taking turns listening to asses implode during phone calls from those desperate to talk to Mrs. A or Mrs. C.

    I regaled Mrs. B with my recent tale of woe and financial difficulty. Then I told her a bit of what went on during our typical Monday Mass Chaos, specifically about Chester's dumb ass. Mrs. B hates Chester even more than I do, which is a considerable amount to start with.

    I also began to tell Mrs. B about Mr. & Mrs. Thrill, the couple who came in at the crack of 5 yesterday and got all worked up and threatened to never come back because I told them we were closing. Before I could even start to speak of them, though, they walked in the door.

    (ADOPTS HOMER SIMPSON VOICE) Mmmm... Synchronicity.

    I don't think they were expecting, nor hoping I would be there when they came in because both of them looked suddenly sheepish at having their feet caught being set in a building they had said they weren't coming back to. They quietly mosied around the room and eventually chose a couple of movies to borrow. I was glad I hadn't been in the middle of my story to Mrs. B when they came in, because I had a hard enough time not cracking up laughing while they were there as it was.

    Luigi was back for much of the day, though with considerably less muddy boots this time. I gave em a good once-over at-distance inspection when he first came in. He came and went throughout the afternoon. Finally, at 4, he came back and asked if any of us had any kind of automotive repair knowledge in our heads. Seems his truck wouldn't start.

    "What's it do when you try to start it?" I said, armed with a cache of broken car knowledge from my many years as owner and driver of unreliable vehicles.

    "It just clicks."

    "Sounds like the starter," I told him. "Happened to me once. I had to have mine replaced."

    Luigi phoned a repair shop he knew. They told him it was the starter and that he should go and hit it with a hammer. We loaned him a hammer and watched him go, but neither Luigi nor any of us actually knew WHERE the starter was. Finally, we told him to phone the repair shop down the road and see if they would come up and hit his starter with a hammer for him. They did. Luigi's truck started right up.

    While most of this was going on, I was trying to take my break and was using the internet. Our internet connection is still very unfaithful as LOCAL ISPnet has still not finished replacing its routers, or some such. So the net is up and down and up and down throughout the day, which just pisses off our usual internet crowd something fierce. While I was trying to use it, someone came in, but I didn't look up at them since I was technically on-break. Still, my Spidey-sense got a tingle.

    After failing to get the net to do anything I wanted, I gave up and returned to the circulation desk. A few minutes later Mrs. B came through the children's room carrying a small stack of kids books on tape. She looked irritated. She began mouthing words to me. After a couple of tries, I read her lips to say "CHESTER's in the children's room."

    I bolted around the desk and caught sight of Chester's ratty vest and stupid little short-brimmed cap. He was indeed standing in the kids room. Why? Cause there was a pre-teen girl in there, that's why. Dammit!

    Mrs. B knows that I have no problem making Chester's life miserable by following him around conspicuously, so she passed her kid's tapes off to me so I'd at least have an excuse to harass him. When I entered the kids' room, Chester was gamely trying to look like he was engrossed in one of our Who's Who in West Virginia books we keep on a high shelf in there. He had his back turned to the little girl, so he couldn't be suspected of doing anything untoward. This just pissed me off. I wanted to grab him by the arm and say, "Can I have a word with you outside?" then drag him out before he could even reply. I wanted to hurl him out the door and give him the speech I've been writing in my head for the past two years. I want to tell him that we know good and damn well what his game is, that he likes looking at little girls and that he has no business being in the children's area. Oh, and we also know his sick ass has been stealing our Teen People's. I wanted to tell him that I better not see him so much as fart in the kid's room EVER again or even look in the same direction as another patron, let alone a little girl, or I won't hesitate to call 911.

    The trouble with this is, no matter how much we KNOW in our heart that this truly is his game, he has still done nothing illegal. It would be one thing if a patron complained to us about him. I'd be on his ass like carbs on potatoes if someone would just complain about him. But I can't exactly throw him out for leafing through a Who's Who in WV which can only be found in the children's room. I didn't even see him staring at the girl this time. I just know he was doing it before I got there.

    So instead of assaulting the man, I parked myself in the doorway and stared at him. When he saw me, he put the book back on the shelf and gathered up his notebook and a cluster of loose paper that he'd put on the kids-books on tape shelf and wandered back toward the computer hall. I didn't even have time to move before he was back, though.

    "Uhm, can I... Do the computers... Uh, How do I?" he stammered, jutting a thumb back toward the computer hall.

    "You have to sign in on the clip-board up front," I said, jutting my own thumb behind me. It's only the 834th time I've had to tell him this, because he asks that EVERY SINGLE %$#!ing time he wants to use a computer. Chester went to sign up and I went back to log him on. As I did, I noticed the top page of his stack of loose paper was from the local community college. I don't normally snoop, but this is %*#!ing Chester, after all. The page was a note giving him instructions on how to apply for financial aid. Hmm. Maybe all those FAFSA forms he's been taking from us were for something after all? More likely, he just wants to take classes so he'll have an excuse to sit and stare at girls. I guess at least the girls would be of age then, but he's still a sick #%&*!

    After Chester sat down at the computer, Mrs. B loudly announced that she thought she'd just stay in the children's room to straighten up a few books. I went back to the circulation desk, where I had a good view of the door between the computer hallway and the children's room. I still had Luigi's borrowed hammer and I decided to keep it on the desk, if for no other reason than Chester might notice it and speculate as to what I was planning to gavel with it.

    I expected Chester would start his traditional slow walk through the children's room in a quest for a pencil routine, but he stayed put for at least 10 minutes. Finally, he did get up and come to the desk, carrying his stack of stuff.

    "Is there something wrong with the computer?" he asked. "It won't go anywhere."

    I smiled. "It's been up and down all day. LOCAL ISPnet's working on it."

    "When will they get it fixed?"

    "Who knows?" I said. "We'd hoped they'd have it fixed already. It's been a week."

    Chester looked irritated. I love seeing Chester irritated. He stood there for a few more seconds, allowing me to bask in his frustration, then he left for good, or at least as good as it got today.

    He didn't seem to notice the hammer, though.

    Adventures in Tri-Metro Land

    This morning, Ash took all the little scraps of paper, on which I'd been scribbling vital information about our debit card theft, down to the bank to confer with them on our next step. So far none of the charges the thieving CAsshole made have hit our account, likely due to the fact that they've been canceled at the source. Still, we don't want this weasel to get away with it, so after consulting the bank, Ash popped down to see the police. Unfortunately, you can't just pop into ANY police station for this sort of thing.

    "We can't do anything," the policeman at Town-A's police department said. "You're not in our jurisdiction. You're in Town-C's jurisdiction so you need to go see their department."

    See, we live in the Town-A/Town-B/Town-C Tri-Metro area of small West Virginia towns. The towns are very small, but they're so close together that you'd hardly notice you'd moved into another town unless you paid attention to the signs. So Ash piled in the car again, traveled from Town-A through Town-B and to the Town-C police department, a journey of no more than 4 miles, and was hardly shocked to find Town-C's police station was empty of all life.

    Town-C, which we live closest to, is not large enough to have a full fledged police force, you see. They have a handful of officers who have to both patrol in the cars and come back to run the desk. They can't do both at the same time, so they don't even pretend to. It's not at all uncommon, therefore, to see the police station sitting empty and locked up with all its lights out. In the department's defense, Town-C is a very poor community. It used to be the hub for all lumber activity and the money that came with it and for most of its life was actually something of a Flourishing High Society mecca. But logging dried up and most of the high-society crowd moved over to the more clean and historic-looking Town-A, leaving Town-C to dry up.

    So poor is Town-C's police department that some of its officers have been known to moonlight as police officers for Town-D, 11 miles down the road. And, a year or so back, a couple of these Town-C/D officers did a wildly intelligent thing. They pulled over a woman over for speeding, she offered them sex in exchange for a free-pass on the speeding ticket and they took her up on it. They then proceeded to head back to one of the officer's apartments where they VIDEO TAPED the "encounter". Then, in some kind of endorphin-fueled haze of fraternal camaraderie, one of them decided it would be a great idea to show the tape TO THEIR BOSS back at the station the next day. Fortunately, their boss WAS a good cop and he had the pair charged, prosecuted and ultimately fired. Mayberry, this is not.

    In order for Ashley to file a police report today she had to first come home and CALL the police. This evidently routes through 911's dispatcher who forwarded the call to an officer who then agreed to come back to his station for a few minutes so someone would be there to let her in and help with the report.

    So now the report is filed and will soon be winging its way to San Diego where we'll see what happens. As I said before, it seems phenomenally stupid that our CAsshole debit-card number thief would actually ordered stuff off the internet and sent it to his own home. If he's smart enough to have gotten the number, it stands to reason he has some sort of plan for not getting caught. I'm thinking we're not likely to find him. But maybe, just maybe he really was that stupid and the cops in San Diego can nail him to the wall for this.

    Monday, February 23, 2004

    Now that's some MORE Monday for your ass!

    Sure enough, as I drove up to the liberry, a full seven minutes before we were scheduled to open at 1 p, there were already three patrons pounding on the door to get in despite the whole really obvious hours of operation sign on the door. I parked and then made a point of walking past them on my way to the back door.

    "We'll be opening in just a few minutes," I said. They looked suitably irritated with me.

    I went through all the opening duties then watched the chain-smoking rubes who were still impatiently waiting outside. I'd worn my bright red "DO NOT DISTURB: I'M DISTURBED ENOUGH ALREADY" t-shirt today. It didn't work at all.

    The front door opened at 1 p.m. exactly and not a second before. The flood gates opened with it and a steady stream of patrons poured through the door. Three of them immediately and hungrily signed up for computers, leaving two latecomers to stand in slack-jawed frustration at the half-hour wait time. The internet crowd can be especially irritating on Mondays. Most of them are used to being able to come in at 9 a.m., but on Monday's they have to wait an extra four hours to get their e-mail fix. They don't like it one bit. Makes em cranky. They were also irritated that our internet connection has been intermittent at best for the past week. Our ISP has been replacing servers or routers or something and the service keeps going down. I understand how frustrating that can be, but we've had patrons threaten to punch their monitors because of it. I keep having to explain that their inability to check their e-mail and play their on-line crossword puzzles is not our fault.

    The patrons who didn't want computers or tax forms or my help with either seemed to desperately need my help finding books. ("Um, hey, I uh, got a book here a long time ago. It was about this girl and she wrote in her diary. The book was about this thick, you see? Whuuut? No, I don't know the title or author.") or making photocopies with the devil-copier, or try to find books we don't have for their kids' book reports, all of which were due tomorrow, of course.

    Bout the time I'm neck deep in needy patrons, who walks through the door but the patron who must not be named, Chester the (potential) Molester. He headed through on his inspection rounds and went upstairs. Now, there were three teenagers in the library at that moment two of which were guys--one in the kid's room and one reading at the top of the stairs. They were hopefully off Chester's radar. However, we did have one who was upstairs somewhere herself. Fortunately, there were several mentally handicapped patrons and their aides upstairs by this point and I didn't figure Chester would try anything with so many witnesses. Still, as soon as I could shed myself of needy patrons I grabbed a stack of non-fiction and went up to see what he was doing.

    As I put my books on the cart by the door, I could see Chester sitting alone at one of our tables. He was facing our front outer wall with his back to the handicapped patrons. He was still able to swivel his head, and did in my direction as I walked in. Chester looked terribly pleased with himself for some reason. He was smiling in that Chris Penn gone to seed sort of way he has. (I know, I know, this is really insulting. I mean, have you seen Chris Penn lately?) A happy Chester is not a good Chester, though and it wasn't until I was back downstairs that I realized why he was so happy. The teenage girl must have been sitting at one of the closer table's on Chester's side of the room. I hadn't seen her because that table is blocked from doorway view by shelves, but it's the only place she might have been had she been sitting up there. Before I could worry about it too much, the girl came down the stairs, gathered up her backpack and left. She didn't seem angry or worried, so maybe she was just leaving already. But it made me wonder if she found it difficult to bear the Chester's happy stare.

    After a bit, (long enough for the girl to have gotten away) Chester came down, looking far less happy than before. I openly watched him as he passed through and toward the door, looking for signs that he had any stolen magazines stuffed into his vest. I figured the guy at the top of the stairs might serve as a deterrent for Chester to do any pilfering, but who really knew.


    Now that's some Monday for your ass!

    Sweet merciful crap, where do I even start?

    Okay, shortly after I made the below post, I get a call from Sony. Not Sonny, mind you, but Sony the corporation. It seems someone ordered $302.12 worth of headphones, Walkmen and memory sticks using my wife's debit card number and wanted it shipped to an address in San Diego. Sony just wanted to know if this was legit, as the address did not match ours here in WV. (ADOPTS AMBASSADOR KOSH VOICE: "And so it begins.")

    I assured Sony that the charge was indeed a fraudulent one, as they suspected, and they in turn said they were cancelling it and would not be charging our bank account after all. As an added bonus, they gave me the home address that this merchandise was to be shipped to in case I wanted to pursue the matter legally. I thanked them for watching my back on this one and said keep up the good work.

    I immediately hung up and spent the next 15 minute on hold with various operators trying to get through to have Ash's debit card cancelled.

    It was maddening!

    I called my bank and got the recorded message runaround for a couple minutes before realizing their voice-message system had no intentions of connecting me to an actual human. So I called one of the branch offices instead and got a person right away. She couldn't take care of the problem from her end, but was happy to transfer me to the right department and assured me that I just needed to tell them what happened and they would cancel the card right away. One transfer later, I was on hold with Fraud Claims. A few minutes later and I get to tell them my sad tale. In retrospect, I think they must have misunderstood what I wanted them to do, or I had been transferred to the wrong department in the first place, because they decided to transfer me to Mastercard proper. So I get to tell Mastercard my story. They decide that they can't handle me either and want to transfer me to the Global Distribution Mastercard department. Another transfer and I get to repeat my story again. They start asking me questions about whether Ashley needs a new card to replace her lost one and I realize that they completely don't Get It.

    "No," I told them. "Her debit card is not lost. Her card number has been stolen somehow and someone is sending stereo equipment to San Diego with it. She still has her card, we just want it cancelled. Quickly."

    "Ohhhh, it's a debit card," they said. "Well we need to transfer you to your bank's card department."

    Son of a....

    So, a full 15 minutes after I began my quest to speak with my bank, I'm finally transferred to them and start the process over.

    The lady at my bank was really cool, though and just like the first bank lady said she shut down the card ASAP. She said that she could see a few more charges on their way in through Ash's account number, specifically a $400 charge to Staples and a $250 charge to, an internet diamond broker and a $1 charge to set up a Yahoowallet account, into which they no doubt intended to funnel the rest of our money. Bank-lady said we needed to wait for the charges to hit then we could come in and dispute them and file a police report against the smarmly little asshole in San Diego who'd ordered all this stuff. (And I wonder if the guy at the address all this stuff was going to is even the perpetrator at all. It seems colossally stupid for someone to do what has apparently been done, so perhaps someone is setting him up for a fall somehow. I don't know. I don't care. I just know that we don't have $1000 to shell out on colossally stupid smarmy little assholes. I'm the poor spouse of a poor medical student, we're well over $100,000 in debt as it stands and I work in a frickin' library! No, sir, our smarmy asshole budget is $0.)

    After hanging up, I decided to call Sony back and make sure I had all the contact information for the smarmy asshole correct. Sony confirmed it all and even gave me the order number, the asshole's e-mail address and told me how to go to their website to print it all out to hand over to the cops. I thanked Sony's fraud rep again for being so vigilant on my behalf, as there were three other companies which had, as of then, not. He suggested I try to call the other companies and get the orders halted. Great idea!

    I called Staples and and spoke with fraud representatives who put a stop to the orders, confirmed that they were both being sent to the same smarmy West-Coast based asshole's address and assured me that while my account might be charged initially, a credit for the full amount would follow shortly thereafter. They said this was the sort of thing they usually caught, but we just happened to beat them to it. Mighty nice of em.

    That done, I got ready to head in to work.

    I thought my day couldn't get any worse. I was wrong.

    Monday, Monday--Can't Trust That Day

    I don't think I've had to work a Monday since starting this blog last November. This is a good thing, cause Monday's suuuuuuck.

    "Oh, Juice," I hear you saying in a sing-song he doesn't know what he's talking about voice. "Monday's suck for everybody, not just you."

    Yes, I am aware of this. But allow me to assure you, Mondays at the liberry suck even harder than all that. You know that new Catwoman movie coming out this summer, starring Halle Berry in the title role? You know that one? You focused on it? Okay, not to be gross, but that movie's gonna suck some serious goat wang. In fact, my pal Joe says that goats are already lining up with packs of cigarettes tucked into their shirt sleeves, raring to go due to the extreme suckage that that movie's gonna exert on the goat-wang populace.

    Monday's at the liberry suck even more that that!

    Now in theory, liberry Mondays don't look so bad. After all, we don't open until 1 p.m. on Mondays, as opposed to the butt-crack of dawn 9 a.m. (See, already I'm losing the sympathy of the early-rising readers.) And we get to close at 5 instead of 7. This is really not so good, though.

    See, despite the fact that the liberry has been opening at 1 p.m. for well over a decade now, none of our patrons have actually paid attention to this fact. Every Monday, Mrs. C--who normally works Mondays and comes in at 9 anyway to get the Inter-Library Loans done--says that from the time she gets to work until 1 she hears nothing but patron after patron pounding on the door to get in, oblivious to the giant sign she's hung on it that says we don't open until 1 p.m. No one reads the sign, at least not until they've pounded on the door for a while first.

    And every week, once the doors are finally opened, Mrs. C hears the same thing from a different patron: "When did you all start opening at 1 on Mondays?"

    "Over ten years ago," she tells them.

    Or better still, she'll hear: "You know, if you're going to start opening late/closing early on Mondays, you need to inform the public first."

    Well, it's been well over a decade now. We think the public has had time enough to start paying some attention.


    Thursday, February 19, 2004

    Miscellaneous Losers

    After all the slow/no liberry news last week, this week is off to a hearty good start.

    When I arrived today, Mrs. C the liberrrian told me I'd just missed a visit from my least favorite patron in all the world, Mrs. Carol Satan. Carol was in to return some books, but not ALL of her books. Seems there are two books left on her card that are WAY overdue. Of course, on Carol's planet she returned those books months ago. ("No, decades ago. In fact, I never checked them out in the first place. I don't read books! I can't even read at all! I have glaucoma from smoking too many cigarettes! Hell, I've never set foot in the library before and I'm not even here now! I've never been treated so rudely in all my life!"... etc. etc.) She said she put `em in the drop box outside, cause she always puts her borrowed books in the same place in her house and they're not there so she HAD to have returned them. (Try looking under the cigarette crate sometime, lady!)

    Mrs. C said Mrs. Carol Satan didn't actually throw her usual hissy, but the threat of one was definitely there.

    It's probably for the best that I wasn't around for her visit. I'm finding it more and more difficult to resist the idea of returning fire at full bore upon her next verbal onslaught.

    We also were paid a visit from another patron who is usually one of our nicer patrons, but today he was the messiest patron. Let's call him Luigi. He's usually harmless enough and mostly comes to the library to look up gardening information, as, I'm pretty sure he's a member of our local Back to the Land movement. From what I've gathered from talking to a couple of friends in the movement, Back to the Landers pretty much live off the land, farming and eschewing such amenities as electricity and running water in favor of living like our forefathers from early last century and before. Many of them are, understandably, former 60's hippies who didn't ditch their ideals at the first sign of 80s prosperity.

    I don't pretend to know what Luigi's exact situation is. I'm not even entirely sure he's a Back to the Lander. All I do know is that he tracked a great deal of that land into my library in the form of intensely muddy footprints.

    See, we've had something of a cold spell for the past three months here, with loads and loads of snow which has now piled up into great heaping, road-grime and pollution absorbing mountains of ice. Over the past few days, however, we've had a warming trend, with temperatures reaching the upper 50s and lots of sunshine. Much of the ice has started to melt, mingling with the soil and churning up mud in its place. So now, at the liberry, we no longer have to constantly vacuum due to the road-salt being tracked in and the idiot patrons who somehow always manage to avoid the perfectly good door mat outside in favor of using the runner carpet from the door to the circulation desk, no now we have to deal with mud.

    When Luigi came in, he somehow managed not to get much mud on the runner itself, which means he didn't even attempt to wipe his feet. He stepped across it and left muddy footprint after muddy footprint through the main room, then through the carpeted children's room, up the carpeted stairs and into the uncarpeted non-fiction room upstairs where he proceeded to a table beneath which he left a sizeable puddle of mud and filth. Unfortunately, we didn't notice what he had done until some time after he'd already done it. We had to follow the muddy footprints up the stairs and to his table to determine that he, Luigi, was the culprit.

    And the thing is, while there is mud outside, it's all in the library's lawn and NOT on the perfectly clean and well-swept cut-stone sidewalk and walkway leading right up to our front door from the equally unmuddy parking area. For Luigi to track in as much mud as he did, he would have had to go walk around in the muddy portion of the lawn, which is NOT even near the library's front door and which he would have to go out of his way to get to in the first place, and really put some effort into getting his boots truly good and muddy whilst there. It seems like this muddying of our floors would almost have to be intentional.

    Rather than cleaning the mess up right away, we decided to wait until Luigi had left, as he was just going to track more mud in the process.

    Much mopping, vacuuming and scrubbing of carpet on hands and knees later, we managed to get most of the mud up and are now considering boot-checks as standard library policy.

    But those two losers, terrible as they are, pale in comparison to the joy I had in getting to mail a letter to a completely different patron whose tale I have not yet chronicled here.

    When I arrived for work, Mrs. C told me I needed to take all our interliberry loan packages to the post office to send out. That's the kind of grunt work I occasionally have to do. You just have to lug a bunch of bulky packages down the street to the post office, dump em on the desk and wait ten minutes for the postal employee to get em all processed. It's a hassle but it's not difficult.

    In addition to this, though, Mrs. C needed me to send a certified letter to a particular problem patron whom I have not yet discussed on this blog. I speak of none other than Kammy K: the Book Hoarding Bizatch.

    Kammy K. is a local employee of the county. In fact, she's one of the higher-ups in a local county-run office, which I will omit from naming so as not to soil their good name. She's not an elected official, by any means, but still a higher up in her particular neck of county business.

    In May of 2003, Kammy K. asked us to interlibrary loan a book for her called "Real Age: Are You As Young As You Can Be?" We ILLed it from another county and gave it to Kammy K when it came in.

    That was the last time we saw that book.

    Now, most interlibrary loans give patrons a month to read the book and return it to the library that borrowed it for them. Rules such as this evidently do not apply to Kammy K., for she ignored them.

    Kammy K. kept the book beyond her month limit. When she passed into overdue status, we phoned her to remind her to bring it back. We could never seem to get through to Kammy K. herself, but we were able to leave messages asking her to please return it.

    Kammy K. ignored the messages.

    Weeks passed and many more messages followed.

    Kammy K. ignored them too.

    Next we sent non-certified cards and letters to Kammy K. asking her to please return the book or at the very least contact us regarding it.

    Kammy K. ignored the cards and letters.

    The loaning library from another county, annoyed that we had not yet returned their book, BLOCKED our library from borrowing any more books from them until its return. We weren't offended by this; it's standard procedure for most libraries and if the tables had been turned we would have blocked their collective butt too.

    So, again, we sent more letters to Kammy K. and loaded down her office and home voicemail with messages explaining our situation of being unable to borrow books from the loaning library BECAUSE of her book-hoarding ass.

    Kammy K. ignored them all.

    Next up, we started leaving messages with her co-workers, hoping that the embarrassment of having her entire office staff know that she's borrowing books with titles like Real Age: Are You As Young As You Can Be? might cause her to reconsider ignoring us.

    Nope. Kammy K. began ignoring us with renewed vigor.

    About this time, I suggested that instead of leaving messages with Kammy K.'s co-workers complaining that she had an overdue book called Real Age: Are You As Young As You Can Be? we should really be leaving messages about a book called "STD-Ridden Anal Lice: How to Cope." This idea was shot down.

    I then suggested we needed to start putting the names of problem patrons, such as Kammy K., in the newspaper. Hey, it works for all the property-tax-evaders, traffic-offenders, bad-check-writers and deadbeat-dads around here. Why not asshat-patrons? Besides, Mrs. A is always stressing over having to come up with material to put in our weekly column in the local paper so why not just spend one week a month running Liberry Deadbeats on Parade? This idea hasn't been shot down yet, per se, but I'm thinking it's not going to be enacted any time soon.

    After all that, we began trying personal visits to Kammy K.'s office, which is just down the road from us. However, Kammy K. was mysteriously never in when we visited, so we were forced to leave more messages.

    About three weeks ago, Mrs. A complained about Kammy K. to the liberry's board of directors. One of our board members, Mrs. Emm, knows Kammy K. personally. I think their husbands used to work together or something. Mrs. Emm figured it would be no problem to pop down to Kammy K.'s office and ask her about the book. It would turn out to be a big misunderstanding, they'd have a laugh and Kammy K. would produce the book for Mrs. Emm to take back to us. No problem.

    Evidently, when Mrs. Emm went down to Kammy K.'s office, Kammy was there. Kammy K., however, refused to see Mrs. Emm. Gave her the brush off, if you'll allow. Shunned her, if you will. Blew her off, if you catch my drift. Said, "F**k All Y'all," if you suss my meaning.

    This was NOT to be done, nor forgiven in the eyes of Mrs. Emm.

    Mrs. Emm is now on the warpath. She's pissed and no longer in the mood for dicking around with book-hoarding bizatches. This book is getting returned even if we have to pull the blasted thing from Kammy K.'s cold dead hands. An example is now going to be made of this woman that the liberry is not to be trifled with nor ignored. The impending battle promises to be terribly fun or at least funny.

    According to the WV Code of Law, once a patron has been notified in writing that they have an overdue book, that patron has one month to return it or the "liberry" is well within their rights to take said patron to small claims court over the matter. This has never, to my knowledge, actually happened with our library, though Lord knows it should with folks like the Fagins walking the earth. Mrs. Emm has made it clear, though, that going to court is very much an option she intends to exercise if she doesn't see a certain book come back. I couldn't be happier.

    I also couldn't have been happier to have the privilege of mailing Kammy K. an envelope full of threats to this effect, return receipt requested.

    Kammy's envelope includes another letter, hopefully the last, explaining that we're now sending her a bill for Real Age: Are You As Young As You Can Be?, which she has had since May, along with instructions that she is to either return the book NOW or pay the bill NOW. Also included is a copy of the above library-related law code concerning small claims court and our obligations, which we've now fulfilled 20 times over, in the matter before hauling her in.

    My guess is she'll pay for it, but if not then the next letter she receives may be a subpoena.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004

    More Tales of the Bladder Thieves

    Both the official and unofficial investigations into the theft of the "liberry's" laptop are going frustratingly slow. [See Legion of Evil Doers (with Bashful Bladders), Tales of the Bladder Thief and Drama, Drama, Drama to find out where we last left our Junior "Liberry" Detectives.]

    The suspects in the case, Jimmy the "Anonymous" Snitch and the Amazing Bladderboy, continue to flaunt their guilt by coming in to use the computers. Actually, only Jimmy uses the computers; Bladderboy usually goes upstairs, (where I'm happy to say he's found the upstairs restroom annoyingly locked at all times, should he have attempted to get into it), or sits in a chair near the computers.

    It annoys me tremendously that they do this, mostly because I'm not allowed to give them dirty looks and make snide comments about their not needing to use our computers since they already stole our #$!%ing laptop, as I don't want to tip-off Bladderboy that we're onto him, prompting him to ditch any incriminating evidence, or, as is the case, tip off the current possessor of our laptop into ditching it.

    Herein lies the problem. According to Jimmy the Snitch's original anonymous letter, the laptop is no longer even in Bladderboy's possession, as he's already passed it off to a third party friend.

    Meanwhile, there's been little word from the police as to whether they've contacted Jimmy the Snitch regarding his anonymous note to us claiming he knows who horked our laptop and that he's willing to turn-in said weak-bladdered asshole and his third party friend. Mrs. A decided to simply confront Jimmy the Snitch about the matter.

    One day when Jimmy was in, sans Bladderboy, Mrs. A drug him up to her office and put the question to him: Are you gonna piss or get off the pot? I'm paraphrasing, of course, but that's the gist. Was Jimmy planning to get off his ass and rat out his thieving friends any time soon so we might have some hope of getting our laptop back?

    Jimmy whined that the third party friend who has the laptop is out of town at the moment, but would be coming back and at such a time Jimmy thinks he can probably get the laptop and get it back to us. Mrs. A pointed out that this might lead to an asskicking or worse if Jimmy's friends ever noted that we had our laptop back. He didn't seem to concerned, which leads me to think he no longer has any intentions of helping us and is just trying to pacify Mrs. A. I say this because we know that Jimmy frequently gets beat up. We presume that Bladderboy is the one doing the beating, but we don't know that for sure.

    (Of course, my solution to all this would be to inform Jimmy that if he doesn't hurry up and rat his thieving friends out, we're going to inform his thieving friends of his treachery against them and let them all sort it out on their own with their own methods. Unfortunately, this might lead to Jimmy's death and/or dismemberment, so I can't in good conscience go through with such a plan.)

    Jimmy tried to assure Mrs. A that he didn't think his third party friend would try to sell the laptop, or if he did he might try to pawn it somewhere. (I imagine the police have thought of this.)

    Unfortunately, our own Junior Detective work has lead to the discovery that the Compaq laptop serial number Jimmy quoted in his anonymous note is not in fact a serial number from a Compaq laptop at all, but is, at best, the part number from a Compaq laptop battery. (Asshole!) We have since confirmed the actual serial number of our laptop, after an irritatingly long time spent on the phone with Compaq, so if the police ever find the damned thing they can match it all up.

    As to whether Jimmy's third party friend is planning to sell it, that's still up in the air. In fact, a startlingly similar Compaq notebook has appeared in the local want-ads of the paper. Mrs. A called the number of the guy who's selling it and asked him a few pointed questions as to what model it is. She managed to get a model number out of him on the pretense that she wanted to look it up on Compaq's website.

    Now this is where it gets even foggier and more frustrating... As of this writing, I don't know if Mrs. A or Mrs. C has actually looked up the laptop to see if it's even the same kind as was stolen from us. I also don't know if they've passed this info on to the police. I'm hoping they have, but things have moved rather slow in that direction thus far and Mrs. A was not around for me to ask. Here's hoping Thursday goes better.

    Monday, February 16, 2004

    The Big FAT Lie

    No one's actually asked me, or anything, but regulars here who know that I'm on the Atkins program might be wondering where I stand on the issue of the recent medical record releases and the subsequent revelations concerning the condition of the late Dr. Atkins at the time of his death.

    For those who don't know, the Wall Street Journal recently ran an article based on the illegally released medical records of Dr. Robert Atkins that showed that at the time of his death he weighed 258 pounds and had heart disease and failed kidneys. On the surface, this information would seem to back up the claims of Atkins detractors that the diet causes kidney failure and heart disease, just the sort of thing they've been looking for for years. Many allegedly reputable news organizations, the Wall Street Journal itself being far from the least of these, jumped on this story and ran with it, utterly failing in their journalistic obligation to actually research the claims and show what the reality of the situation is.

    Allow me to put this in perspective from a semi-learned medical point of view. (My wife IS a third-year med student, after all.)

    Yeah, Dr. Atkins did weigh 258 lbs at the time of his death. That tends to happen when your kidneys fail and your body begins retaining all the water the kidneys can no longer process. And kidneys often tend to fail after the body's systems begin shutting down following a massive head injury (like the one Dr. Atkins received when he slipped on ice last year) and resulting coma (like the one Dr. Atkins was in at the time of his death). What the Wall Street Journal article also fails to mention is that Dr. Atkins weighed 196 lbs when he was brought into the hospital following the above head injury, a darn fine weight for a 6 foot tall 72 year old man.

    What about the heart disease? Sure thing. At the time of his death, Dr. Atkins was suffering from cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle that is completely unrelated to diet intake and which, in Dr. Atkins case, is thought to have been caused by a virus. (Dr. Atkins own doctors say he had almost negligible cholesterol build up in his arteries.) Also, Dr. Atkins was hardly trying to keep his heart-condition a secret. He openly spoke of it on Larry King Live after first being diagnosed with it a few years back and it was a well known fact among the Atkins community. He was still in phenomenal shape and very active for his age.

    The truly shocking thing to me, though, is the fact that the Wall Street Journal published this article in the first place. The information in it came directly from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, who gave the medical records to the journal as the basis for the article. The PCRM name sounds nice on paper, but they're actually an animal rights activist group who illegally obtained Dr. Atkins medical reports in the first place, evidently for the purpose of smearing his name and getting people to eat less meat and therefore fewer tasty animals. Don't think so? Take a look here.

    Why is it illegal to release medical records? Cause the law states that they MAY NOT be released without prior consent of the surviving family. Mrs. Atkins in no way authorized this, so anyone else leaking the information is in violation of the law and should be prosecuted.

    Now granted, the above information comes from an article at Atkins own website from his own organization. Sure, they have a bias toward the good Doctor in the first place, but who else in the world would have a vested interest in getting the FACTS of this case right and try to head off the media ignoring them?

    I highly recommend anyone interested in this check out the articles on Atkins website where the information has been nicely summed up. You might also give Mrs. Atkins own article a gander.

    The unfortunate part of all this is that most of the newspapers and sundry media that were so quick to jump on this story in the first place will also utterly fail to report the truth about the issue since it will just make them look like the half-assed bunch of ball-dropping hacks that they are.

    As far as my own feelings on the diet program are concerned, I'm still all for it. As a future medical professional, my wife has done a lot of research on Atkins. She felt it was her duty to know what it was all about and see how it worked. As such, she has combed medical journals looking for any evidence that Atkins and similar diet programs are harmful. She had not been able to find a single study that debunks the Atkins program. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine states that it does in fact work and work well for most people who use it. NEJoM says that people on the program tend to lose weight, have less high cholesterol and diabetes associated problems and live longer as a result. They, of course, admit that they don't know HOW the program works, as Dr. Atkins program flies in the face of the government's nutritional guidelines and just about everything the medical community has been saying about how the body is supposed to work for the past century, but they still admit that it does work.

    The program is not for everyone. Some people, my own step-mother included, have had gasto-intestinal problems on it that they felt made it unsafe for them to continue with it. And people with bad kidneys to begin with should definitely avoid it. All of these warnings are spelled out explicitly in Atkin's book. No one should be able to claim they walked into it unawares.

    And as for its effectiveness, I've been on it since early October and have lost 27 pounds. (Course, I probably gained back a bit of that over our Valentine's Weekend Cheat-A-Thon, but I'll drink a bunch of water, go on a couple of power walks and be back in the swing of things within the next few days.) And I feel great. In fact, the only gastro intestinal difficulties I've had as a result have come on the few occasions when I've cheated and ate a bunch of carbs. Then I feel bloated and sluggish and gassy for a day or two until I can process all that out. Probably more information that you cared to know, but it's the truth.

    Saturday, February 14, 2004

    Valentines Day

    It's been a splendid Valentine's Day. In fact, it's been a downright splendid Valentine's weekend.

    My wife Ashley and I decided also to forego all the cards and flowers and traditional Valentine's day gifts in favor of just eating whatever the hell we want all weekend long.

    See, my best friend in the world, Mr. Joe "Damn" Evans and his girlfriend Lorna Abbigail (not her real name) drove in from Richmond to see the play I'm in and hang with us for the evening. We thought it would be rude to subject them to our monastic diet, so carb-chomping we did go. (In fact, when I finish this sentence, I'll be devouring the final bite of a crazy-tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with genuine Jiff peanut butter on two slices of fresh, heavenly Tuscan bread. Mmm, that's some peanut butter goodness for your ass.)

    As far as Liberry-related stuff goes, it's been a phenomonally boring week there. About the most exciting thing that happened was the decision to do not one but TWO Patron Appreciation Days this month.

    For the past year or so, we've done an open house PAD the last Friday of every month. This is a day where we the liberry staff bring in home-baked goods and sundry sweets, set it all up on a table with punch or cider and let the patrons have at it all day Friday and, if we're feeling especially generous and have stuff left over, Saturday and Sunday too. (Patrons, though appreciated, are still not allowed to cart their punch back to the computers, thank you VERY much Mr. B-Natural.) Ostensibly we do this because we like our patrons, but I think we secretly just want to make the other libraries in the county look like they're slacking off and hate their patrons, which is quite possibly true in many cases.

    The weather being what it's been around here, we didn't do a PAD in January. So Mrs. A and Mrs. C decided that since it was Valentine's weekend, they would do PAD's on Thursday AND Friday of this week.

    "Oh, great!" I said when I heard the plan. "Now I'll have TWO days of sheer torture instead of just the one."

    See, the trouble with all these PAD's is, I always have to work them and since I've been doing Atkins I can't eat any of the tasty goodies and wind up having to eat low-carb stuff like pepperoni, peanuts and pork rinds just to stave off my cravings for what's on the sweets table. I was able to save myself on Thursday by tucking into some mixed nuts. By Friday, though, I was feeling kind of weak-willed. I decided that since we were going to be cheating later on anyway cause of Joe and Lorna I could go ahead and eat what I wanted and it wouldn't really matter in the end. With that firmly rationalized, I started biting and managed to put away several cookies and a heart-shaped Rice Crispies treat before I could be stopped.

    The only other exciting thing that happened during the first PAD was a visit from some of our mentally handicapped friends from down the road. They saw the table of goodies and naturally wanted some. This is cool with us, as they are some of our most faithful, and usually great patrons (Ron the Ripper, excepted). Their aid, who I believe is the same greenhorn who was so appalled at Ron's behavior a few weeks back, didn't seem to think it was a good idea for his two clients to have any food. I guess if I was him I'd live in fear of sugar-rushes too. Finally he relented, though, after his clients completely ignored all of his attempts to verbally draw them away from the table.

    "Excuse me," one of the clients said. "Could you come pour some of this for us?" He was pointing to the little crock pot full of hot cider we had set up.

    "Sure thing," I told him and came around from behind the counter to help out. Unfortunately, our choice of cups was not ideal. Mrs. A had brought in those thin, clear plastic cups, that do cold drinks great but tend to melt when hot liquid is poured into them. I found this out after pouring a ladle of cider into one, which nearly scalded my hand through the cup itself. I only filled them to 2/3's full so there would still be a sufficient lip for the men to grab on to.

    "Now, be very careful with these. They're really hot," I said, passing the first cup to the man who had asked me to come pour. I poured a second cup, which the other man snatched out of my hand.

    "Be careful, it's hot! NO! WAIT! IT'S HOT!!!"

    Too late, the man lifted the cup to his lips and took a big gulp. He immediately began blinking rapidly and licking his lips, but didn't seem all that put out otherwise.

    This morning we arose and drove 50 miles down the road to breakfast at Biscuit World. Allow me to sing the praises of Biscuit World. It's just aFrickin'Mazing! When you order a biscuit sandwich from Biscuit World, you're playing with live ammo. Don't make the mistake of assuming you're gonna get the traditional crappy tiny biscuit the fast food world has become known for. No sir, Pepe. You're getting a big ass cat's head biscuit, piping hot with your choice of toppings.
    After gorging ourselves there, we piled back in the car and headed one exit back east to Grand View. If you're ever in the Beckley, WV, area, besides a manditory stop at Biscuit World, you should head over to Grand View State Park. There you can see one of the best views in the country of the second oldest river in the world, ironicaly dubbed the New River. I won't even attempt to describe how cool it is there, but suffice it to say it's one of my favorite places in the world. You can probably even find pictures online if you're so inclined. We went out and trudged through the snow and stood at the overlook and took it all in. We also stomped around the stage of Theatre West Virginia, where Joe did Summer Stock over four years back, two full years before we moved to the area.

    It's just been a great weekend all around.

    Being Valentine's day, I'm gonna stop wasting time on the internet and go spend it with my sweety.

    Sunday, February 08, 2004

    Long Lost Tales of Mrs. Carol Satan

    Well, it looks like we're still waiting for news about the ongoing laptop/bladderboy drama. I do have a leftover bit of liberry-related news from earlier in the week.

    On Wednesday, Mrs. C handed me a Danielle Steele book with one of our hold-bin Post-its adhered to its cover. Whose name should I find on said Post-it that of Mrs. Carol Satan's.

    "You wanna call her?" Mrs. C asked with a grin.

    "Yes I do!" I said with evil glee. I did indeed want to be the one to phone Mrs. Carol Satan up to tell her we had a book on hold for her. After delivering that news, I planned to politely add: "Oh, and by the way, Mrs. Satan, if you don't mind, would you please confirm for me that today is in fact February 4th? You see, I'd like to avoid any unpleasantness that might result from further confusion on your part as to the exact day we called your hideous, stanky gorgon ass."

    That's what I would have WANTED to say, at least. I might have even come within spitting distance of such phrasing too, but Mrs. Carol Satan's phone was busy when I dialed. And it remained busy for the next three hours, with each member of the liberry staff taking turns calling, because no one wanted to let me have all the fun by myself.

    While we were playing phone tag with the devil, Mrs. A came downstairs and laughed when she heard what we were up to. She then surprised us by telling a heretofore untold tale concerning the very object of our ire.

    It seems several years ago, our library had another male employee (we're a rare breed, I tells ya) who I shall call Mr. Jay. One day, back then, Mrs. A was at the front desk when Mrs. Carol Satan appeared in a whiff of brimstone to pick up a book on hold. After picking it up, Mrs. Carol Satan leaned over the desk and loudly announced that one of the library employees was stalking her.

    "Stalking you?" Mrs. A asked.

    "Yes. He keeps calling me. I have caller ID and I can see that the man who works here has been calling me."

    "Carol, he's been calling you about a book," Mrs. A said.

    "Oh, no. He isn't calling about a book. He's calling me to harrass me on the phone."

    About this time, Mr. Jay, who'd heard all of this from the other room, steps in, walks right up to Mrs. Carol Satan and said, "Lady, I wouldn't call you if you were the last woman on Earth!"

    We laughed at this and I made a note to thank Mr. Jay, who is still a patron of ours, the next time he comes in.

    We also decided that it would be a good idea if we documented in exact detail the number of times Mrs. Carol Satan's phone was busy on any given day so that we could shove it in her face when she came in to bitch about not getting a call. Before we could put this plan into action, though, Mrs. C dialed and got an answer.

    I'm terribly disappointed in Mrs. C. She didn't come anywhere close to being even subtley rude to Mrs. Carol Satan. She just told her that she had a book on hold and that she had until February 9 to pick it up. What a wuss.

    And to make matters worse, I wasn't even at work when Mrs. Carol Satan came in to pick it up the following morning. From all indications, she didn't make a big scene or even bare her fangs at Mrs. H, the liberry ass. on duty.

    Thursday, February 05, 2004

    Drama Drama Drama

    Okay. We've had a lot of drama at the liberry lately, but today really pushed it to a new level.

    Remember a couple weeks back when we had our laptop stolen? Remember how, clever Junior Detectives that we are, we had narrowed down the list of suspects to two people, one of which had been a daily computer user UNTIL the theft of the laptop? Well there have been new developments in the case and we've FINALLY called the police about it.

    Now, mind you, the entire "liberry" staff has been BEGGING Mrs. A to call the cops about the theft since it all went down. I don't know why she didn't want to, unless maybe it's because all our evidence as to who did it was based on a hunch. Thankfully, hunches have now been abandoned.

    Today, (before I arrived, of course), one of our key suspects came in and asked if he could speak with my fellow Liberry Ass. Mrs. B in private outside. Let's call him Jimmy the Snitch. So Jimmy tells Mrs. B that he knows who took the laptop and he wants to turn the person in but he wishes to remain anonymous while he does it. He said that he didn't learn of the theft of the laptop for four days after it occurred and once he found out about it he decided he wanted no part of it. According to Jimmy, the laptop's hard drive has been wiped clean and has actually been given to a third party at this point by the second party who originally stole it. Jimmy is willing to provide evidence about the laptop, but he's scared and doesn't want the second party--let's call him The Amazing Bladderboy, as it was his bashful bladder that lead him to our private bathroom where the laptop was stored in the first place--to learn that Jimmy was the one who'd snitched on him. Jimmy also doesn't want the cops to think HE had anything to do with it because Jimmy the Snitch has a long history with the local law enforcement already. He's been brought up on embezzlement charges and taken to court on more than one occasion, including one several years ago where our own Mrs. C served on his jury and was only unable to help convict his ass that time because the evidence was too weak.

    You think the drama's flying thick yet? Oh, no. It gets better.

    Not only are Jimmy the Snitch and the Amazing Bladderboy friends... they are also LOVERS! Well, maybe WERE is the more appropriate word here...

    Still, the fact that they ever were leads me to ask the question, what the hell is it with our library and half-assed gay master-criminals? I mean, we already had the Untalented Mr. Ripley and the Even Less Talented Mr. Ripley... now we've got Jimmy & Bladderboy too?

    So anyways... Jimmy not only tells Mrs. B he knows who took the laptop, but he gives her a nice typed up anonymous note to that effect too. It even includes the make and serial number of the laptop for added authenticity. Pretty sweet no? What he doesn't give is the name of the person who took it, i.e. Bladderboy. Then Jimmy the Snitch leaves, saying that if the police are interested he's willing to cooperate.

    Mrs. C calls Mrs. A, who's out of town, to let her know all of this and Mrs. A finally relents and tells Mrs. C to call the cops and get the ball rolling on the official investigation (I guess since we've already pretty much wrapped up the un-official one). So Mrs. C calls a guy on the force that she knows, but has to leave a message for him as he's out.

    Bout this time, I amble in and hear the above sordid details. I say I figure Jimmy's probably telling the truth about not being in on the laptop's theft since he knows full well that Mrs. C works there and that she had served on the jury against him all those years before and has no great love for him in the first place so she would most certainly suspect his previously-nearly-convicted ass of stealing the laptop in the first place, which is exactly what had happened. Makes sense to me, at least.

    Now it's all pretty dramatic up to this point. You'd think we were bout drama'd out for the day, no? Uh uh.

    "Isn't that the guy?" Mrs. B said from her position by the liberry's front window.

    A moment later the door bumps open and Bladderboy himself comes in. Not only that, but he looks SUPER PISSED. He stalks through our main room and then back toward the computer hall where he has a look at the people there. Evidently he was looking for buddy Jimmy, who wasn't there, so he stalks back through and out the door. Mrs. B, still at the window, quickly notes Bladderboy's license plate number as he drives off, earning her yet another gold star on her Junior Detective Score Card.

    By mid afternoon we'd finally gotten through to Mrs. C's policeman friend and he came down to take possession of the anonymous note from Jimmy, plus Bladderboy's license number and to hear our version of the whole matter.

    "Wow. You all are doing some detective work here," the officer said.

    "Are you kidding? This place is information central," I told him.

    "So I should probably be coming up here for tips more often?"

    "Oh, yeah."


    Wednesday, February 04, 2004

    Update on Chesta D. (P.) M.

    I think Chester the (potential) Molester may finally be getting the hint that we're on to him as far as his stealing our magazines goes.

    On Tuesday we saw his car parked out front, in the half-hour parking spaces, for two hours, and knew a visit from him was imminent. Unfortunately, Mrs. A and Mrs. C fled home before he could turn up, leaving me to deal with him alone when he finally did. As he began his usual rounds, inspecting the place for preteens, no doubt, I figured he'd go right for the magazines and pilfer a Parents or Seventeen yet again. Being the lone gunman in the house, though, I didn't exactly have time to ride herd on him while leaving the desk unguarded. But I did have time to take a load of non-fiction upstairs.

    So up I went with my pile O books. Only, instead of sneaking up behind Chester, who I'd assumed was nearly to the magazines already, I found Chester sneaking up behind me, as he'd actually been in the bathroom. (And, no, Chester's not the serial shitter. I've already investigated that avenue.) Well, this is awkward, I thought. Then I had an idea. When I reached the top of the stairs, Chester at my heels, I walked over to the magazine rack and very conspicuously and thoroughly scanned its contents, doing an obvious mental inventory of all the magazines, sending to Chester, I hoped, the message I'll know what's missing when you leave. It seemed to work. Chester grabbed YET another FAFSA booklet, finished his inspection of the upper floor, and then hightailed it to his car.

    That was Tuesday.

    Today his car was back in the half-hour parking. We'd already resolved to clock his dumb ass and call the meter maid the minute his car's half-hour was up, but he didn't give us the chance. While I was back filling my water bottle at the fountain near the bathroom, here he came on his pitstop at the can. I immediately abandoned my water and raced upstairs. As I did, I caught the eye of Mrs. A in her office. I gave her the international sign-language motion for "Chester's in the can downstairs, but is about to come up and try to steal a magazine. I'm gonna hassle him." To which she replied with the international motion for "Good one."

    So I sat back in one of the comfy chairs adjacent to the magazine rack and flipped through a copy of Rolling Stone while I waited for Chester.

    ...And waited... And waited.

    "You can give up now," Mrs. A said from the window of her office. "He just left."

    Left? Left without even trying to hork a magazine? No way.

    Gosh, I sure hope he doesn't think we don't like him.

    Evil Incarnate Update

    Interesting news today on the Deposit Book Crowd.

    When I got in this morning, I suggested to Mrs. A that she hotfoot it down to the bank to cash the checks of Mr. and Mrs. Deadbeat, the Deposit Book felons she'd talked to on Tuesday, before they had time to put a stop on their checks. Mrs. A didn't think it was likely that they would, as it usually costs $20 to do such a stop. I said, it would be cheaper for them to spend $40 to stop two checks than to allow the full $300 value of those checks to hit their account. Then they would have our books and we wouldn't have funds to replace them.

    "True," Mrs. A said. "I'm actually considering just calling them back and telling them they can have their checks back if they'll just return the books, and that they'll be banned from using our library afterwards."

    Hmm. Sounded win-win to me. After all, we don't really want their money; we want our books back. The money is just there as added incentive for them to return the books. It's just that Deposit Book Crowd people NEVER want to jump through our hoops.

    Before any action could be taken, though, we got a call from Mrs. D, the librarian at the nearest library to the Deadbeats. It seems Mrs. Deadbeat had dropped off three of the five books and Mrs. D was popping them in the mail to us even as she spoke. An hour later, Mrs. D called back to say she'd phoned Mrs. Deadbeat and told her they needed the other two books as well and Mrs. Deadbeat agreed to bring them in too.

    Will wonders never cease!

    Tracking the Serial Sh*tter.

    I think we have a new Serial Shitter to contend with. Which, I guess, means I need to get off my ass and tell the story of the old one first. I don't know for sure who the new one is, but I suspect they are one of the "special" patrons who come in with the local Unobstructed Doors social services group. In which case it might not entirely be their fault that they keep shitting on the seat of our public toilet. All I know is, I'm a little irritated at having to clean it up.

    As I've said in past entries here, Unobstructed Doors has made it policy that their aids have to bring their mentally handicapped clients to the library every week. So far, D-Day has been on Weird Wednesday and so far we've had S.S. incidents on the past couple of Wednesdays (and a Thursday or two to boot). Not conclusive, but enough to draw circumstantial evidence.

    We're not the only library to have problems in this regard. Mrs. V, of a neighboring county library, reports that her public restroom is regularly befouled by the Unobstructed Doors crowd and in much more unpleasant ways than a dab of poo on the toilet seat. It seems the special patrons there have veritable Poo Festivals in her bathroom and she's fed up with it. In fact, she asked one of the Unobstructed Doors aids to clean up after her client. The aid said that she wasn't about to do anything of the sort, to which Mrs. V said, "It's not my job to clean up shit. It's yours." The aid protested that she disagreed with this assessment and believed it was indeed Mrs. V's job to clean up the shit. Mrs. V counter-protested that it was not and added the threat that if the aid didn't go in and clean up the shit right then, she, Mrs. V, was going to call the aid's superiors and tell them what had happened and insist that they have the aid come back down to the liberry and clean the shit up after all. That seemed to do the trick. We haven't had any such confrontations yet, but I fear they are not far off.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2004

    Evil Incarnate

    The "liberry" was rather chaotic today. It usually is when I'm not even supposed to be there.

    At 11 a.m., Mrs. A called me at home to ask me to come in as Mrs. B was unable to get up her mountainous driveway due to the torrent of ice and snow we got Monday night. I can't make fun. We had our own similar driveway adventures this morning and the only reason I was able to get out and go to work was because I spent my morning shoveling the drive.

    In addition to the usual stuff, we were inundated with Deposit Book Crowd people desperate to check out our deposit books.

    Let me just say this about the deposit books: I hate them, I can't stand them and I wouldn't live next to them. They are probably the worst part of my job simply because you're never going to find a more despicable bunch of human beings than most of the folks who come in to check out the deposit books. (Oh, sure, you'll have your occasional Hitler or Pol Pot crop up and blow the grade curve for everyone else, but you can bet that even those assholes had a few overdue deposit books stashed in a bunker somewhere.)

    On paper, our deposit books are a great idea. Most of them are of the sort designed to help people study for state licensing exams and the most popular are the ones needed for the WV Contractor's Licensing exam. So as a service to the public, we try to keep the books in stock so that people who wish to take a given exam can come in, borrow the books, study up for it, then take the books in to the open book exam for the license, hopefully pass it and ideally bring our books back. This method keeps the average Joe who wants to become a licensed contractor from having to buy $1000 worth of books just to pass the test. Unfortunately, it means that WE DO. Multiple times! Keeping our deposit books circulating is one of the hugest hassles you'd ever care to deal with--which is why I don't.

    For one thing, the Deposit Book Crowd tend to be folks who normally wouldn't be found dead in a library and have only come in because we have what they want. They don't usually grok the whole "You need to have a library card before we can loan you any books" thing. And they get especially testy when we ask them to leave a deposit on the deposit book they want. After all, "liberry books is supposed to be free." They give you all manner of excuses and dirty looks as you explain to them that leaving a deposit means they do have to leave some form of money with us in order to borrow the book, but that they get that money back in full provided they BRING THE #$%*ING BOOK BACK on time!

    Sure, they only get a week's loan on the deposit books, but they're allowed to renew it for another should they need to, and over the phone, no less! This is too much trouble for the Deposit Book Crowd.

    I've often wondered why exactly many of them refuse to ever bring back our Deposit books. Perhaps it starts when they fail to pass the OPEN BOOK test they're preparing for in the first place and decide to hang on to them so they can bone up for next time. Maybe they're just evil, evil people. Whatever the case, the books don't get returned with near the frequency we'd like. And this is why the deposit system was implemented some years ago.

    Our original policy was to charge a $10 deposit on each Deposit Book. The library's logic was that people will want to get their $10 back, so they'll return the book on time. The patrons' logic, however, was, "Get me, I just paid ten bucks for a $60 book. Huzzah!" And they weren't shy about telling us that either. During my early months at the liberry, patrons who checked out deposit books, balking at the need for a deposit in the first place, would frequently smile and say, "Oh, so I'm just paying $10 for the book then?"

    "No," I would correct them, "you are leaving a $10 deposit on the book. If you don't return the book, it then becomes a stolen book and stealing is still a felony in this state." (Okay, so it may only be a misdemeanor unless the book is worth over $500. Saying such things still tends to make mouthy patrons shut their pie holes toot sweet.)

    With Deposit Book Crowd bad attitudes firmly in place, the number of books that failed to turn up by the due date, or at all, steadily increased.

    Last year we replaced the whole lot. We purchased brand new recent editions of nearly everything. We also installed a new deposit policy whereby if a Deposit Book Crowd patron wishes to check a deposit book out, they must leave a deposit equal to the full cost of the book. That way, when they don't turn up with it by the due date, they've essentially bought it and we have money to buy new books with.

    Good idea, no?

    And you'd think that this sort of policy would work pretty good, wouldn't you?

    Of course not.

    Witness, as example, the semi-paraphrased telephone conversation between Mrs. A and two of the Deposit Book Crowd patrons this afternoon...

    Mrs. A--Hi, Mrs. Deadbeat? Mrs. A from the library. I just wanted to call to ask if you could please return the WV Contractors books that your husband checked out from us a while back.

    Mrs. Deadbeat-- Oh, he still has them?

    Mrs. A-- Yes ma'am, he does. I've talked to the librarian in your county and she's agreed to let you drop them off there, if it would be more convenient for you. We really need them back because we have patrons who need them for their exam.

    Mrs. Deadbeat-- Okay. How do I get my check then?


    Mrs. A-- No, Mrs. Deadbeat. I don't think you understand. You've already forfeited your deposit on these books.

    Mrs. Deadbeat-- Do whuut?

    Mrs. A-- Yes ma'am. If you don't bring the books back on time your deposit is forfeit. We have a slip of paper that your husband signed saying that he understood this.

    Mrs. Deadbeat-- But we renewed them books.

    Mrs. A-- Yes ma'am. You did renew them once, back in October. It's now February.

    Mrs. Deadbeat-- But we renewed them books.

    Mrs. A-- You can only renew them one time ma'am. Your husband renewed them for an additional week in October and he didn't bring them back.

    Mrs. Deadbeat-- But we renewed them books. Wait, lemme put my husband on the phone...

    etc, etc. etc.

    We'll never see those books again. And unless Mrs. A gets to the bank super quick before Mr. and Mrs. Deadbeat get a chance to have their check canceled, if they've not already, we'll never see money out of it either.

    New Addition (a.k.a. Gassy Dogz II Men)

    Last summer, we received a mysterious donation in our book return drop box. It was a bright yellow children's book called Walter the Farting Dog, written by William Kotzwinkle and illustrated by Audrey Colman. It's the tale of a dog named Walter, who is rescued from the pound by a kind family, only to find himself in danger of being returned to the pound due to his uncontrollable and graphically illustrated flatulence (which persisted even after a heavy application of Low-Fart Dog Biscuits).

    We loved it. The entire staff thought it was one of the funniest things we'd ever read. We passed it back and forth amongst ourselves, crying with laughter. Then we were forced to show it to some of our patrons, who had inquired as to why we were all standing around crying with laughter.

    None of us had any idea who had bestowed this gem of gassy brilliance upon us, but it was in pristine condition and we were grateful to have it.

    However, when it came to actually adding this work of joy and light to our library's collection, Mrs. A put her foot down. It's not that she was offended by the book--far from it, she thought it was fantastic. Instead, Mrs. A was afraid the first parent whose child came up wishing to check out a book about a farting dog, no matter how well-told, would be deeply offended and begin raising a very different kind of stink.

    We begged and pleaded with Mrs. A to add it anyway, pointing out that as much as we the adults adored fart-humor, kids adore it ten times as much and would get an even bigger kick out of it. Besides that, if patrons truly wished to be offended, there are plenty of other books in the children's room they could find that were far worse, (though, granted, most of these are in the Young Adults section and many were added at my suggestion, but the point still stands). Mrs. A remained steadfast in her refusal.

    And so Walter the Farting Dog remained on a shelf behind the counter, with no call number, date due slip, book-wrap, nor bar code...

    ...that is, until last Thursday.

    When I came into the liberry on Thursday, I found our copy of Walter lying flat atop the hold bin cabinet, fully processed and added into the system. I was ecstatic. When I inquired about Mrs. A's change of heart, Mrs. C explained that one of our local highschool English classes is requiring its students to choose a children's book to read in class and one of those students had heard the legend of Walter and called to request it. Mrs. A had no choice but to enter it into our system, as it would be utterly unthinkable to simply loan it to him otherwise. (Librarian logic, you see.)

    When the kid arrived to pick it up, I thanked him profusely for his choice of books and told him that he'd helped expand our collection with quality material as a result.

    Now I have to start a lobbying campaign to see if I can get Mrs. A to order the sequel, Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble at the Yard Sale, which was recently published.

    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.