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.

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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.