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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Actual Semi-Paraphrased Second-Hand Information Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #2

*RING*

MRS. C: Tri-Metro County Public Library.

FEMALE CALLER: (Angrily) What?

MRS. C: (Annunciating) Tri-Metro Public Library.

FEMALE CALLER: (Still angry) Do you do inter loans?

MRS. C: Interlibrary loans?

FEMALE CALLER: (Angrily) What?

MRS. C: (Annunciating heavily) Do you mean INTERLIBRARY LOANS?

FEMALE CALLER: Whatever. Do you do them?

*CALL WAITING BEEP*

MRS. C: Yes, we do.

FEMALE CALLER: Do you do them out of state?

MRS. C: No, ma'am, I'm afraid we don't.

FEMALE CALLER: (Angrily) Why not?

MRS. C: Well.... I'm not exactly sure, ma'am, except that we don't have access to book databases in any other state but West Virginia.

*CALL WAITING BEEP*

FEMALE CALLER: (Angrily) Why not?

MRS. C: We just don't. We're a state library system. We only have access to West Virginia databases.

CALLER: (Intensely angrily) Well, no wonder people say this state is so backwards! (*SLAMS DOWN PHONE*)

At this point Mrs. C hit the phone's flash button to see who the other call was from. It was one of the State Reference Librarians with the head office in Charleston calling to warn Mrs. C about an impending call from the above angry woman. It seems the angry woman had just called Charleston's branch a few minutes earlier because she entirely failed to find our library's phone number in the local phone book. (I don't know why so many people have trouble finding us. We're a county library. Our library's name has "County," "Public," and "Library" as it's last three words with the the actual county name as the first. We're therefore listed as OURCOUNTYNAME County Public Library in the phonebook. I've had people call me to complain that they had looked and looked and looked and couldn't find our number ANYWHERE in the phone book and that they had to call another library to get it. When they say this, I open up our phonebook and quote them the page number our phone is listed on and suggest they try again.) Angry woman had asked about out-of-state ILLs and had been told by this reference librarian that such things were completely at the discretion of each individual library according to their policy. When asked by the caller if the reference librarian's branch did such things, the librarian responded that yes they did, but only for State Employees as her library services the state capital.

"That's discrimination!" the angry caller had shouted before slamming down her phone.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Do you love Kayla like I love Kayla?

Today a little two year old girl named Kayla came in the library with her mom.

How do I know her name was Kayla? Because her mom said that name seven thousand times! I think this child had been loaded up on Red Bull and Runts just prior to coming in because from the time she came through the door to the time she left Kayla did nothing but run and stomp and squeal and scream and drive everyone crazy, especially her mom.

At the time, I was upstairs shelving, a task that doesn't get done quite as often since Mrs. J, our resident shelver, has been out with a bad heart. (And believe me, that's a post unto itself.) From downstairs I hear stomping and screaming and girlish squeals with an underlying soundtrack of Kayla's mom pleading... "No Kayla, don't run. No, Kayla, put that back. No, Kayla, don't leave the children's room. Kayla we need to use our inside voice. Kayla stop running. Kayla stay off the stairs. No, Kayla don't press the buttons on the computer! Kayla we need to use our inside voice!!! No, Kayla, we don't take the stuffed animals from the kid's rom. Kayla don't run! No, Kayla, stay in here. Stay in here, Kayla. Stay in here, Kayla!!! Kayla stop it! Kayla..."

After a few minutes of waiting for the inevitable *SMACK* "WAHHHHHHHHHHH!" it didn't come. Kayla was still running and stomping and squealing at full force. She even ran, stomped and screamed her way upstairs and into the non-fiction room, dashing past me clutching a yellow stuffed chick toy. A moment later, her mother came huffing and puffing after her and herded Kayla back down the stairs.

Now, our library is one of the loudest libraries in the world. We don't have a whole lot of rules about being quiet because most of our patrons are quiet naturally and we usually only have to shush people when other patrons complain, which is rare and often involves Ron the Ripper. However, we aren't beyond asking parents to keep their kids in line when the kids are doing their bull in a china shop routine. I knew that any patrons who were downstairs would be crazed by the antics of this little girl by this point, so I decided as the senior staff member in house that it was my job to go and try and do something about it.

I made it to the landing of the stairwell before I saw Kayla blindly careen around the corner from the children's room and stomp full-speed down the computer/reference hall, turn around and stomp back. By the time she made it back, her mom had reached the doorway and was there to catch her when she arrived.

"Now, Kayla, you have to stay in THIIIS room," Kayla's mom said, pointing to the children's room. "See that line on the floor? You can't cross that line."

Well, at least mom is trying, I thought. However, Kayla's wild-eyed expression of ADHD-addled glee told me that she wasn't listening. I wasn't even back to the top of the stairs before she plowed around the corner and stomped through the reference hall again. Fortunately, no one was using any of the computers and there wasn't another patron in the building save for Kayla's mom's friend and her daughter (who, though not as rambunctious as Kayla, was trying her darndest to emulate her friend).

I went back downstairs and pulled the computer chair out from the first computer desk by the stairs, providing something for Kayla to smack into when blindly plowing around the corner. I know, I should be horribly embarassed to have done such a thing, but kids are very often quiet after having knocked themselves senseless. Before Kayla had a chance to give this a try, though, a computer patron arrived and so I had to slide the chair back out of the aisle to make room. Probably for the best.

Soon after, Kayla fled the carpeted children's room again and into the main fiction room, her little stomping footsteps echoing from our hardwood floor in there. I stepped into her path and squatted down. Let me assure you now, the following tactic would only work in the film version of my life.

"Kayla? Hey, how bout doing me a favor," I said in my best charmingly sing-song voice. "How bout don't run when you're in the library, okay? Library's are supposed to be quiet... Quiet like a little mouse. So you have to move slowly, and quietly, like a mouse, okay?"

Kayla regarded me curiously for a moment, like one might briefly regard a dully-colored fish in a tank. Then she revved her engines and sped off.

"We already tried that. It doesn't work," Kayla's mom said with weary irritation.

Kayla stayed for another 20 minutes. In that time, her little tightly wound spring gradually began to run down. Before leaving for good, her mother hauled her to the restroom to change Kayla's diaper. Kayla emerged triumphantly announcing to all, "I went Poo Poo!" before colapsing onto the foam chair in the children's room where she declared she wanted to take a nap. Her mother and I exchanged expressions that said, "Oh, now she wants to take a nap?"

"Next time we're taking her to the park first before coming here," her mom said as they were walking out the door, Kayla's limp form draped over her shoulder.

As a childless wonder myself, I can only laugh and make fun of situations like this. Karma working the way it does, though, I'm sure it will come back to haunt me when the wife and I eventually grump out a critter of our own.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Wal-Mart Jesus Won't Leave Me Alone

Mrs. A and Mrs. C will be away for the next few days as they attend the Spring Fling the WV Liberry Assoc. throws every year. For something being billed as a "fling" the reality of it is not nearly as exciting as one might expect.

They lit out about midway through the day shortly after I arrived, assuring me that they'd contacted our board president to alert him to the fact that they'd both be away and where they were should he suddenly develop a desperate need to get in touch with them. That's probably the most of our worries, as all the other librarians and sundry state-office officials who might want to call them will be at Spring Fling and can bloody well hunt them down at their leisure.

Before leaving, Mrs. C gave me a sympathetic look and whispered, "By the way, Jesus is in the reference room."

"Really? Wow. Haven't seen him in here in a while."

That's right, it's the return of one of our oldest rogues at the "liberry", none other than Wal-Mart Jesus.

Wal-Mart Jesus has been coming into the library at least as long as I've worked there. He's called Wal-Mart Jesus because... well, he looks an awul lot like the real Jesus, or at least how our Western sensibilities have come to think Jesus looked. He's not Jim Caviezel, but not too far. Plus, he stokes his general air of Jesusness by dressing like a low-rent Arab sheik, with the long flowing robes complete with a long flappy turban. However, his robes look as though they were pulled directly off a roll in Wal-Mart's fabric department. They're white with blue stripes and look like they'd be more at home covering, say, a picnic table than a man. Wal-Mart Jesus also has the full beard and peyo curls, which I believe denote him as a Chasidic Jew.

Now I've visited parts of this country where he wouldn't look terribly out of place, (well, provided someone got him a decent set of robes), but small town West Virginia is NOT one of those parts. I didn't even know the man was simply Jewish at first. The first time I saw him was not too long after 9/11 and I initially thought his mode of dress was some sort of overt statement of pro-Islamic protest. I wasn't angry about it, but I did worry that the local bubba population might not take kindly to it and might administer a beating upon the man's head. I couldn't have been more wrong, though, at least the part about pro-Islamic protest.

Wal-Mart Jesus isn't actually a "liberry" rogue, per se. He's just barely makes it as a benign irritant. I actually kind of like him, cause I'm all for colorful library patrons and he certainly qualifies. Wal-Mart Jesus is, as you might expect, a pretty nice guy to deal with, even though he seems a bit on his guard much of the time. Every time he comes in, though, he's deeply involved in researching a wide variety of topics the reference material for which he has no prayer of finding on the shelves of our tiny library. He's often in the market for lots and lots of information about centuries dead Jewish philosophers that can only be found in a Centuries Dead Jewish Philosopher Encyclopedia which we don't own. We've searched around and found one at another WV library, but they're not keen on loaning it out to us. We've subsequently made requests on his behalf that the other library simply photocopy the pages from their encyclopedia pertaining to the centuries dead philosopher he wants and send them to us. Despite repeated attempts at this, it has yet to come off properly. Usually the other library conveniently loses our request, which annoys both Wal-Mart Jesus and us. And if they actually manage to photocopy what we want they don't actually manage to send it to us, as though we're planning to drive seventy miles to come pick it up. And, on the one occasion they managed to both photocopy it and send it to us, we had already managed to lose the by then crinkly and ancient Interlibrary Loan slip on which we'd written Wal-Mart Jesus's real name and home number and so we couldn't call him about it. I think he may have given up on us at that point, cause until today he'd not been in for several months.

Wal-Mart Jesus can be something of a needy patron. He's back and forth from the reference hall, dragging out volume after volume of the encyclopedias for photocopying, which he doesn't like to do himself. That's okay, though. Serving needy patrons is what I'm there for, so serve I do. Sure, it's a bit irritating to have to drop what you're in the middle of to go run off pages on our devil copier every five minutes, but frankly I can manage to be irritated at just about anything so it's no great slam against Wal-Mart Jesus.

Today I made several photocopies of West Virginia Code regulations, encyclopedia entries on Frederick Nietzsche and some pages from a West Virginia history book. This was pretty much par for the course with Wal-Mart Jesus. However, when he made an interlibrary loan request for a non-specific book that specifically had to contain photos of Nietzsche's Aunt Rosalie, I knew we were in for some fun. Not only did he want Aunt Rosalie but he also wanted a few other Nietzsche family photos and some pictures of Nietzsche's friends, including Lou Andreas-Salome, Rainer Maria Rilke and a few others. He had no idea what book these might be found in, but he wanted the book all the same.

"Have you tried the internet?" I asked. I was already envisioning the headache we were about to send to some other poor bastard reference librarian, not to mention Mrs. C who would have to coordinate this from our end.

"No, I've not tried that yet," he said. "I don't have time right now. I have to catch a bus." Much like the real Jesus, Wal-Mart Jesus doesn't drive.

"How bout this," I said, "I'll dig around on the internet and see if I can find pictures of these folks. If they're out there, I should be able to find them."

Wal-Mart Jesus thanked me, then departed after gathering up his leather satchel as well as the stout, cudgel-like section of a tree branch he carries--one with the stumps of smaller branches spiking out from its gnarled head just perfect for laying a beat-down on any Temple sales-clerks he comes upon. (Perhaps the Bubba Patrol hasn't left him alone after all?)

A few minutes of work on the internet and I'd located pictures of everyone he was looking for. I printed them out, clipped his ILL slip to them and left a message on his answering machine about it. He called back later and seemed very pleased to hear of my success.

Seeing him back, though, reminds me that soon I need to chronicle the tale of our late lamented quintessential "liberry" rogue the Purple Nun.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Tickle-Me-Terror-Alert

Terror Alert Level

This terror alert was brought to you by the letters K, X and by the number 4.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Ohhhhh!

Found out our board president is down with a cold. That explains why he didn't call Tuesday when Mrs. A and Mrs. C were out.

Too bad he hasn't given the cold to the 8000 other people who keep calling. And Mrs. A and Mrs. C both keep putting themselves into positions where they can't be contacted. Yesterday they were both in a meeting upstairs and were not to be disturbed. At one point during this, I was trying to help a patron at the desk and the phone kept ringing and interrupting us. No one else was available to answer it, so I had to keep excusing myself to take these calls, all of which were for Mrs. A who I had to keep explaining was unavailable. And while I was on these calls, other people kept calling in and giving me the Call-Waiting beep before I could finish taking the first caller's message. Our policy is that when we get a beep we're supposed to ask if we can put the first caller on hold while we take the second call, cause God forbid the Board President should call and not be able to get through immediately. During the one call I had to take three separate Call-Waiting beeps, all of which were for Mrs. A and all of which sounded desperate.

This happens every year. For some reason, our library is the processing hub for registration forms for the upcoming "liberry" association conference. In the defense of the "liberrians" who have to send in their forms, the form itself isn't the least confusing form in the world, but if you actually follow the directions and fill it out properly it should be a no-brainer. I suppose most of them actually do fill it out properly, but there are so many "liberrians" sending them in that there are still plenty of folks who don't fill them out right, or they fill it out incompletely and have to call to give us the rest, or they have to add another person to their list of attendees and have to call us about it. Meanwhile, none of the "liberry" ass.es has any answers for any of the issues these folks are calling about and they only seem to call when our "liberrians" are unavailable to take the call.

I wish our system would get with the 21st century, or even the 20th and just do online registrations so we don't have to hassle with it all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Librarians Against the Apocolypse

Mrs. A and Mrs. C, our wondrous librarians, left today for a meeting out of town. It's rare for both Mrs. A and Mrs. C to be gone at the same time. Probably only happens five times a year. However, on each and every occasion when it occurs the phone begins to ring and it does not stop.

Who's calling? People.... People who are DESPERATE to talk to either Mrs. A or Mrs. C. And Sweet Merciful Rob Van Winkle, it's like the callers think the world is ending and the only thing that can halt the impending tide of carnage is the answer that Mrs. A and Mrs. C have locked away in their brains that these callers have to have right now.

Even more irritating is that half the time the callers know good and damn well that Mrs. A and Mrs. C are away at a meeting. I know this because more than one of them said, "Aw crap! They're at that meeting, aren't they?" To which I long to respond Yes! They're at THAT meeting! If you knew that already, why are you calling my ass?

If the callers don't already know exactly where Mrs. A and Mrs. C are then they WANT to know--nay, HAVE TO KNOW--exactly where Mrs. A and Mrs. C are so they can get on the horn and try to track them down. Nary a soul in the WV Library network is willing to wait patiently. With long-distance communication in this country striving to be more instantaneous every day, people just can't be bothered with patience. I personally blame Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas and her enticing T-Moble ads.

Now, do you think for one instant that Mrs. A and Mrs. C left any kind of contact information as to where they were going or when they would get back? Uh, that would be "no", Pat. They left us Jaques Shite. Understandable, really, since they don't want to be contacted by any of these people in the first place. So the whole day was just a never ending stream of calls that Mrs. B and I had to field.

CALLER: Uhhh, hey. I'm a liberrian registering for WV Liberry Association conference and I wanted to know if I could FAX it in? It's due in two seconds, y' hear?

ME: Well, I don't know. Probably so, but I don't have the definitive answer and there's no one here today that can answer definitively. I do have a FAX machine that's spitting out registration forms as we speak, so the forecast is good. If you FAX it and you're not supposed to at least you won't be alone.

The only person who didn't call that we fully expected to call was the president of our board of directors, Mr. Kreskin. He always, ALWAYS calls when our librarians are both away. In fact, I've never known him to call at all unless they are both away. It's like he innately knows that they're not in and that none of the rest of us can answer his questions so he calls anyway just so he can get mad about it. The fact that Mrs. A has already told him at least once that they're going to be out of town on X day makes no difference. He calls and gets upset anyway then verbally kicks himself to me over the phone for forgetting that they'd already told him they were not going to be there. However, his anger instantly reignites if he asks where Mrs. A and Mrs. C went (information that he has already been hand fed by Mrs. A) and we don't have an answer for him. He doesn't get mad at us, mind you. We're just innocent victims in the information withholding wars, you see. But when Mrs. A gets back and he actually gets through to her, he gets royally torqued.

This is also the same man who swears he keeps getting an answering machine when he calls the library before 9 a.m. Mind you, we don't open until 9 a.m., but our librarians are usually in by 8 a.m. and turn the answering machine off when they get there just so he can get through. So if he's getting the machine as he claims, he's calling before 8.

I don't mean to make fun of him, for the man is very nice. We were just shocked that he didn't call today. Maybe he's sick.

----------------------------

In other "liberry" news, I finally figured out why one of our mentally handicapped patrons insists on unleashing blood-curdling screams on a regular basis. It's been a big mystery for several months now. The Screamer, you see, is a client of the local Unobstructed Doors office that assists the mentally handicapped in the area. She's usually among a group of clients that they bring to the library at least once a week. They're all very sweet people, but during nearly every visit the Screamer gets something stuck in her craw and just opens up with an unsettlingly accurate impression of someone being stabbed to death. You can hear it throughout the entire building and it just makes your spine seize up with sympathetic pain for the poor murder victim you think you're hearing. Any other patrons standing around suddenly begin looking in the direction of the staff as though we're just inhuman monsters for not immediately running up the stairs to defend the poor girl. We sigh, roll our eyes and trudge up the stairs a bit quicker than usual to see if we can do anything to help quiet things down, which we can't.

Today I at least got a clue as to why it happens. In the past, when the Screamer's started up, the Unobstructed Doors staff immediately gathers their clients and everyone leaves the building. I've assumed that they do this because they know the Screamer's just caused a massive disturbance and so they leave out of apology.

Nope. Turns out the whole reason the Screamer is upset is that the Unobstructed Doors aides are trying to make her leave in the first place. She evidently doesn't want to leave and when it's time to go so she drops to the floor and starts a-death-wailin'.

Naturally, I was on the phone today when the Screamer started and by the time I could ditch the caller and get upstairs the screaming was mostly over. The other clients didn't seem put out that one of their own was calling down the vocal thunder. One of them asked me if I would tie her shoe, which I did. She then said I was her buddy, which I'm proud to be.

Another fellow, a short man named Calvin, came up and gave me a hug. I like Calvin. In addition to being generally sweet-natured and given to hugs, Calvin's also distinguished for his cursing. When he and his aid were coming into the library one day, Calvin tripped slightly on the front step.

"Oh, shit," Calvin said.

"Calvin!" his aid snapped.

"Oh, my," Calvin corrected.

-------------------------

And finally, I had yet another pleasant encounter with Mrs. Carol Satan. Today was the day the Danielle Steel book she has on hold was due to be pulled and given to the next person on the list. Just as I suspected, the book was still in the hold shelf when I got there this morning. I even pointed it out to Mrs. B so she could be sure to pass it along to the next patron should Carol not show up. Around 3 this afternoon, Mrs. Carol Satan called. She very politely, even humbly, asked if we would please hold it for her for one more day as she couldn't get out due to weather and a massive pile of gravel blocking her driveway. I sighed and relented. After all, she was being polite and that should always be encouraged.

Monday, March 15, 2004

I Shall Rule Them All With An Iron Fist!

A few days back, a mom and her daughter were in to check out some books. Once daughter had her selection chosen, Mom told her to take em up to the desk to check out.

"But I don't have my card," Daughter said.

"Oh, it's all right. You don't need it here," Mom said.

Mrs. C smiled at this and politely said, "That's right. At the moment you won't need your card. But in a couple of months when we have our new computer system you will need your card to check out books."

"Whaaaat?" Mom said in a shocked tone.

Mrs. C explained that this was going to be a new requirement with the new circulation and cataloging computer system. Reason being, all the liberries in our multi-county liberry cooperative are going to be combining their patron records in order to more efficiently serve the public. This means every patron in all of those libraries will be added to one central database which all the libraries will access. So instead of us looking up a patron and seeing only those patron's in our library's database, we'll see all of the library cooperative's patrons. If your name is John Smith, it will be vital to have your card so that your books don't get stuck on some other John Smith's patron record and so that guy's don't get stuck on yours.

Another choice feature of this new collective database is that it will be helpful in keeping track and punishing deadbeat patrons (*cough*cough*cough*THE FAGINS*COUGH*!) At the moment, if a deadbeat patron wants to fill up their card with books at our library, they can turn around and go down the road to Town C's library and fill up there too. When we get the new system, that deadbeat patron will be in for a surprise as it's all gonna be one record. And when their books are overdue by several weeks/months/years/decades they'll also find that they won't be able to simply shun one library and continue checking books out at the others cause it's, all together now, one big happy database.

And when super-deadbeats like Kammy K abuse their interlibrary loan privilages, they'll find they're blocked at not only their local library... but ALL REGIONAL LIBRARIES TOO! Bwahahahahaha!

In fact, the only major drawback to this (other than the almost certainly inevitable fact that this system will NOT work properly for the first several weeks/months/years/decades after it goes online) is that we're going to have to issue new cards to all of our patrons. On the upside of that, we're not going to reissue cards to everyone in our current database, in the same manner we had to rebarcode every book in our collection last summer. Instead, we'll just do it one at a time for the folks who regularly come in, building a new patron database from the ground up. Their cards will be good at all libraries in our cooperative, so they'll only have to get one and won't have to keep being entered into everyone else's.

I'm sure there are going to be intense headaches to follow all this, because nothing this complicated can go smoothly. But hopefully, the pluses will outweigh the many minuses I foresee.

And I can rule them all with an iron fist.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Dawn of the Cheerful Bizatches

This has not been a good week for bitter, surly liberry assistants, such as myself.

First Kammy K completely fails to give us any kind of fight in returning her overdue book and now I can't even get a rise out of Mrs. Carol Satan.

That's right, yet another Danielle "Get me, I write a new book every three months--tee hee, just kidding, I really change all the names and republish the same book repeatedly" Steel book us is out and Mrs. Carol Satan was the first and only person on the hold list for it. Great. So I call her and her phone wasn't even busy. It rang and rang and eventually the machine picked up so I figured I wouldn't even get to speak to her unsavoryness. Then, half way through her oddly cheerful outgoing message, Carol herself picks up the phone.

"Hello? Hello?"

I explained who I was, where I was calling from, what we were holding for her and that we would stop holding it for her on 3/16.

"Oh, very good," Mrs. Carol Satan said in an oddly cheerful voice. "I should be in for it on Monday. Thank you so much!"

Beyond being oddly cheerful, she seemed oddly genuine about it. She even went so far as to repeat back to me the pull date. Not even once did she royally bitch me out. Maybe she's trying to make up for her utter defeat at my hands during her last visit.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Doin' the Pedophile Conga

Today was one of the slowest days on record. We only checked out maybe 40 books the whole day and only had around 30 check-ins. We're usually well over 100 in both. Not that any of us was bored, mind you. We had plenty of new books to process and a raging pedophile/magazine thief to chase around the library to boot.

That's right, Chester the (potential) Molester, the patron who must not be named, graced us with his foul presence once again. Actually, today we were foully graced thrice.

Foul Grace #1: This morning Chester popped by for his usual tally of the population of early teenage girls in house. His tally came to zero, so up the stairs he went to scope out which of our magazines prominently featuring early teen girls he might like to steal. Oh, we had a few, but Mrs. A's office is right there at the magazine rack and she saw him lurching up the stairs and came out of her office to watch him. She's getting really good at this. I'm proud of her. Chester, however, is not. He broke off his (potential) attempted theft of a copy of Rolling Stone, (which didn't have a girl on the cover, but did have a picture of Andre 3000 from Outkast, who is something of a dandy, so maybe Chester was confused), and escaped to his fall back position of the non-fiction room. Finding yet another goose egg in our teenage girl population, Chester soon came back through the reading area, where Mrs. A still stood vigil, engrossed in conversation with Mrs. J. Chester was foiled again, so he retreated down the stairs where Mrs. C picked up his trail and followed him through the still empty kid's room, into the main room and saw him flee out the door. I learned of all this after I came in for work a while later.

Foul Grace #2: Shortly after hearing the above story, Chester came in again. I must say, he's not looking all that great these days. Granted, he didn't look great to start with, what with his uncanny resemblance to a bloated, syphilis-addled Chris Penn gone to seed. (I guess I should say Chris Penn gone to seed even more than the real Chris Penn already has. I like Chris and all, but daaaaamn. Oh, and Corky Romano was simply unforgivable.) Chester was wearing his usual filthy fleece vest today, but had traded his ratty little short-brimmed cap for a ratty blue toque that was even rattier. So ratty was it that there were actual gaping holes in his toque's surface, allowing greasy tufts of brown hair to poke through them. Once again Chester came up goose-egg on the teen population and teen magazine population due to the efforts of Mrs. A and Mrs. C, who immediately began hounding his every step as soon as he hit the door. To try and draw attention away from them, Chester had to snatch up one of the free county real-estate brochures, which he hauled out the door with him, pausing only briefly to ask me if the brochure was free.

I suggested to Mrs. A that we needed to abandon all pretense with Chester and simply have every library employee file in behind him in a conga line the next time he came in. One of us could have a little boom box with some music and we could just dance along behind him as he makes his way through the library. We practically do it anyway, so why not add music and choreography. At least with the pedophile conga we could all keep an eye on him. What's the worst that could happen? He gets confirmation of his suspicion that we don't like him? He gets offended and never comes back again? We should only be so lucky.

Foul Grace #3: Shortly after I went on break and left the building, Chester returned for round three. This time there was a teenage girl in the children's room, but Chester didn't have time enough to notice her at first as he was once again on the run from Mrs. A. She followed him upstairs and he had to snatch up yet another real-estate brochure to deflect attention from himself. (It's obviously working.) Then down the stairs he came only to discover the girl in the children's room. It was a short lived joy, for Mrs. A and Mrs. C both stepped into the room and set about staring at him, causing him to immediately flee the room and indeed the building.

I learned of this too after returning from break.

After relating her Chester update, Mrs. C said, "Oh, guess who else came in to return a book this morning?"

"No way! Not Kammy K?!"

Oh, yes, it had been Kammy K: The Book Hoarding Bizatch, who's had a neighboring county's interlibrary loan copy of "Real Age: Are You As Young As You Can Be?" since last May, causing us no end of problems.

"She brought it back?"

"Came in with the book and her checkbook," Mrs. C said.

"Well, what did she say about it?"

"She said she got a letter from us about her late book." Only one? "She said her family had moved recently and she'd lost the book until now."

"Uh huh."

"Tried to write us a check for it, but we didn't take any money since she brought the book back," Mrs. C continued. (Let me just say, I would have taken that woman's money in a heartbeat. At the very least, it could pay postage for sending it back, plus rental charges for keeping the book a full 10 months beyond its due date. And it would help soothe our newly bruised collective sense of outrage over the whole matter. I mean, after 10 months of making us fume and pull out our hair and break our teeth-a-clenching over stupid Kammy and her stupid book and her stupid intentional dismissal of the great and mighty power of the library, she has the sac to come right in and just GIVE us the book back? And to be nice to us and offer to pay for it anyway? What the hell? After months of ignoring us and actively avoiding us and refusing to communicate in any way with us, this woman doesn't even have the basic human decency to stomp through the door and throw her book at us in a curse-strewn fit of defeat? How are we expected to maintain our justifiable rage over the matter if she refuses to be nasty? How dare she end this in an anti-climax like that! And how dare she make me have to take her name off the rogues list.

What a bitch!

Monday, March 08, 2004

All mobbed up

Just want to give a brief shout of joy that new episodes of the Sopranos are now being broadcast.

Last night's was a pretty good start to the season. My prediction is that the Russian mob threat from a couple of seasons ago will finally reemerge this season. It's already being foreshadowed by not only the bear problem Carmella's having but the fact that Paulie and Christopher were talking about the very incident in question in their first scene of the season.

Bout time, I say.

Last night's episode also marks the countdown to the series end, as this season's 12 episodes and a short 6th season with 6 episodes are all that remains. I can almost see Tony surviving the series, but I sure hope Christopher and Paulie meet messy ends. They're absolutely irredeemable characters that I'd hate with passion if they weren't so fun to watch.

This season's additions of Robert Loggia and Steve Buschemi look like they'll be fun characters all the way.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Grump Day II

Yesterday also marked both the appearance of and activity with a couple of Rogue members.



  • I learned that Kammy K, the book hoarding Bizatch, has received her letter from us demanding she return or pay for the ILL she's been hoarding since May (along with our less than subtle threat of legal action should she continue to ignore us). Actually, one of her fellow employees signed for the letter, so we technically don't know that Kammy has read it. Doesn't matter. It's still padding for our Kammy K. file, which we'll be hauling into court against her should that day come.
  • Thursday was also distinguished by an appearance from Mr. Big Stupid, one of the low on the totem pole members of the Rogues Gallery. Mr. Big Stupid is a big, stupid-looking and sounding fellow who is still somehow a member of the Liberry Intanet Crowd. Mr. Big Stupid's claim to fame is the way he lumbers into the "liberry," usually after 6 p.m., very often after 6:40, approaching the crack of closing time, and belches out the phrase "Heybuddy, how'sitgoin? Yougot'ney`puters?" Mind you, he doesn't actually wait to hear what your answer is. He's already made his X on the sign up sheet and is headed back to get him a `puter before you have a moment to tell him that, No, we don't have any `puters free, he's gonna have to wait. As with most of the Intanet Crowd, such news makes him cranky and causes him to give you a dirty look. And when, more often than not, he rolls in at closing time to use a computer, he also gets cranky and dirty-looking when you have to tell him he doesn't have any time to go online. He's also been known to throw a minor fit when asked to get off the computer when his time has run out. Fortunately, when he ambled in the door Thursday, at the unusual hour of 5:20 pm, our computers were free and he was able to attach himself to one right away, sparing me the dirty look.
  • Thursday, March 04, 2004

    Grump Day

    Not real sure why, but I got into something of a grumpy mood today at work. I think it had to do with a patron who drives me nuts. She's not on the Rogues list but I can't see how she'll be able to avoid it for long.

    I started my Thursday upstairs reading the shelves, going book by book, making sure they're in proper Dewey Decimel order and putting right what once went wrong. It's a thankless task, but it's part of the gig. After nearly an hour of this, I heard a loud and grating voice coming up the stairs.

    "Now, you're looking for books about Steinbeck himself, right? Not just his books?" With nary a pause to allow a response from her still unseen companion, the grating voice continued, "...because if you need books about Steinbeck himself you're probably going to need a biography on him. Or you could look in the 800s, which is the literature section and might have some books about him as well."

    You might assume the voice to be that of a librarian, but this is not the case. By then the owner of the voice had entered the upstairs area and I could see clearly who it was. Let's call her Joan Crawford.

    Our Joan Crawford is not nearly as menacingly overbearing nor as beautiful as her actress namesake was portrayed to be in Mommie Dearest, though if she really committed to it I think she could pull it off. (And, yes, I realize Joan's character didn't look all that beautiful in the film either, you do the math here.) If anything, our Joan Crawford is guilty of loving her daughter too much and her overzealous style of parenting methods, in my childless opinion, is something of a major irritant to the library staff whenever Joan and her daughter come in.

    Joan's daughter, let's call her Christina just to continue the theme, is a junior high-aged girl who evidently has something of a hard time with reading. I don't know if she's dyslexic or has a similar condition that prevents her from reading at her best, but she's got some such problem going on. In person, she seems like a mature and very intelligent girl who you would never think would have any such problems with school. (My personal theory is that her dibilitating condition is spelled MOM, but that's just an observation.) Whatever the case, whenever Christina is assigned to read a book for class, her mom, Joan, wants her to have not only the assigned tome but the book on tape of it as well, and the woman hounds us mercilessly until we produce them.

    That's okay. If that's what she wants it's our job to find it and I have no problems in our doing so. However, our audio collection is hardly a one for one match up of our book collection and most of what we do have is abridged. So, if we need to get a specific book on tape that we don't already own, we have to interlibrary loan it. Again, no problem. That's what we're here for.

    Unfortunately for us, Joan Crawford is not to be trusted when it comes to ordering books on tape for Christina. See, if Joan so much as hears a title or catches sight of a reading list that MIGHT contain a book that Christina MIGHT need at some point in the next, say, 20 years, Joan's on the phone to us to get the book on tape ASAP. And in the past we've dutifully ordered the requested books on tape and called Joan to let her know they had arrived only to find out that Christina wouldn't be needing the book for several months yet so they wouldn't be picking it up. When we then pointed out that we went to the trouble and expense of ordering it for her only to have to turn around and send it back, Joan's solution was to try and have us hold the other library's book on tape for the three month stretch until Christina actually needed it.

    We, naturally, said, "Uh, no!" and Joan Crawford has traditionally not been pleased with this response. In fact, Joan got downright pissy with us about it and threatened to call the "liberry" c0mmission and tell them that we weren't doing our jobs. Since it was the "liberry" c0mmission's main library that had loaned us the book on tape in the first place, we said, "Go right ahead."

    And she did!

    The c0mmission explained to her that we were very much doing our jobs and that we couldn't hold the book on tape indefinitely nor repeatedly reorder it just because Joan misjudged when Christina would need it.

    A few days later, Joan and Christina came in to cast eyes on the book on tape and make sure it was indeed the one that she wouldn't be needing for several months. It was.

    "Well, why don't you just read the book now?" I suggested to Christina. "You're going to have to read it anyway, so if you get it out of the way now you'll have more time later."

    Christina didn't like that logic and pointed out that doing so would interfere with all the other books she had to read right now. That was probably true.

    So today, they were looking for some Steinbeck books and Joan was busy dragging Christina from shelf to shelf in an effort to find them. Of course, Joan spied and recognized me and I suddenly found myself drafted into the search. This was fairly fruitless, as Christina had already found most of the books we had on Steinbeck in her school's own library. (See, she can do research on her own!) While I was taking Joan and Christina downstairs to look through our literary criticism volumes in the reference hall, Christina spied a classmate of hers who was at the library to research her own author.

    "Oh, do you need help with your report as well?" Joan asked in a hopeful tone.

    No, I thought. What they both need is to be able to learn how to do this on their own since that's the WHOLE POINT of doing research papers.

    By the time they left, some 45 minutes later, most of the library staff was nearly bald from pulling our hair out.