Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Classic Lineup

Today pretty much set itself up as a classic "liberry" day, as far as these things go. And I got to live through a great deal more of it than on most Wednesdays because I had to work a full 8 hours of it. This was due to Mrs. A and Mrs. C being out all day at a meeting, with all the horror that entails, and needing a fill-in hitter at the desk.

  • At 8:55 I rolled in to work and found the photo-copier repairman camped out on the doorstep. The Devil Copier had been in fine form over the weekend, plaguing Miss E because a patron kept insisting on using it to photocopy the same page over and over and over despite the fact that each attempt resulted in a paper accordion jamming the copier. She finally told him to quit it and turned off the copier. Then, after two days of dealing with similar behavior from it, Mrs. C finally called the repair people and insisted that something was wrong. Over the phone, the Devil Copier repair guy told her to break off a little piece of plastic toward the rear of the paper output slot that seemed to be causing all the jamming. She did. It stopped jamming on the rear and began jamming at the front side instead. So the Devil Copier repairman promised he would come in for a personal repair visit. That was yesterday. Today, just as he'd promised, he was here to do mighty battle.

  • At 9:00 a.m., I opened up the shop and then noticed something addressed to me on the counter. They were two maps with a note attached. See, last week a couple of female tourists had come in on the local Tri-Metro walking tour and asked if we had any maps of the area. We usually do, but the map-restocking people haven't been in for a while so we were fresh out. However, I had one in my car, which I gave to the tourists since I can get a new free map as soon as more come in. Well the two maps waiting for me today included my original free-map as well as one of the `spensive, high-quality, glossy paper, county-maps that are sold locally. The Post-it note attached said the ladies thanked me for the use of my map and hoped I'd get some use out of the `spensive one. That was terribly nice.

  • At 9:01 a.m. my new good mood fell. I discovered that none of our computers were connecting to the network at all. This means our card catalog, our circulation software and the internet were all down for the count. I try to phone some other local libraries to see if they're in the same boat, but they're all lazy and don't open til later in the day. Finally, after having to beat back a few members of the internet crowd with the three-hole punch, Mrs. C called to tell me that everything was down and that she'd put in a call to the tech guys at home office. They called me shortly and walked me through some network troubleshooting. Turns out the UPS battery backup for our router had stopped working. I plugged the router into the other UPS we have and everything seemed to work hunky dory. Well, except for the fact that Patron Computer #3 refused to have anything to do with reconnecting to the network and I immediately became far too busy with patrons to do anything about it. After several patrons complained bitterly about not being able to check their e-mail on it, I finally just slapped a big sign on it that read "BAD COMPUTER" and just operated with the two good ones. The internet crowd was NOT happy about this and gave me dirty looks about having to wait to get on for the rest of the day. I even had to bust Mr. B-Natural off and he gave me a solid grumble for old times sake.

  • Back at the Devil Copier, the repair guy had made several accordions of his own. This is suprising, cause the copier usually behaves its best when the repair guy's around. Shortly, the repair guy pried open the Devil Copier and removed a large section of its guts which he took out to his truck and rebuilt from the ground up. Once reassembled, everything seemed to work fine. "That should satisfy the ladies," he said. Screw the ladies, what about me? Before he could get out of the parking lot, I grabbed the darkest book I could find, Stephen King's Skeleton Crew, slapped it on the glass and pressed the little green button for copying. I even left the lid ajar, which is a double no-no that usually causes the copier to self destruct. Instead, the copy came out just fine and very dark indeed. Perhaps the devils have been exorcised.

  • Lady, I know you didn't just park your big ass Ford Explorer in the middle of the damned road blocking the entire street. Oh, no, I see you did. And now you think you're gonna hop out real quick and pop that overdue book of ours in the drop box, don't you? Yup, you sure do. Oh, so sorry... it's locked! You're gonna have to come inside anyway. Ehhh heh! That's right, honey. Climb back in your truck and go find a parking space.

  • And with both Mrs. A and Mrs. B gone, the day just could not pass by without a call from our Board President, Mr. Kreskin, desperate to speak to them and pissed that they're both gone. And of course, I had no idea where they'd gone so I couldn't tell him when they'd be back, which is the only thing that pisses him off more than both of them being gone. I really need to take this act on the road and go find the Amazing Randi and collect my million bucks from him, cause if there was ever proof of psychic ability it's Mr. Kreskin. He truly ONLY calls when Mrs. A and Mrs. C are both gone. It's phenomenal.

  • I asked a patron named Siobahn how her name was pronounced. I knew it was Gaelic and was therefore just as likely to be pronounced "Earl" as what it turned out to be, which was Shavonne.

    "Yeah, you gotta watch out for the Gaelics," I said, meaning the language but immediately realizing that I'd probably just insulted her. So I lamely backpeddled, "Um, I mean, the language."

    "No, the people too," she corrected. "Especially if they're raging alcoholics with a mean temper."

    "Well, y'know, I wasn't gonna say anything," I said.

  • And it also wouldn't be a proper day with no Mrs. A and C in house if I didn't get five hundred thousand questions I can't answer. The major theme in today's unanswerables was parents asking to sign their kids up for Summer Reading. Sounds easy, but we're not doing sign-ups this week. Furthermore, I have no clue WHEN we're doing it. None. Never do. This'll be my third year to be around for Summer Reading and I'm still out of the loop. Every year I ask, beg and plead for an information sheet that tells me all the stuff I need to be able to tell parents, but I never get one. Well, okay, eventually I get one, but usually at the last second and never weeks in advance when the questions actually start. And let me tell you, these parents get real agitated about it all for fear of getting burned on signing up. We only give them a whole week (nine days, really) to sign their kids up. We don't sign any up before that week and if the parents miss out on doing it during that week it's tough luck for them. But, of course, half the parents schedule a vacation for that week and then raise holy hell when they find out how strict we are about sign-ups. Or they raise holy hell because they screwed it all up the year before and still blame us for it. Every year we explain to them that it'll be okay, we're not trying to ruin their entire summer and they can have a friend come in and sign their kids up for them while they're gone. Even this they find unreasonable. It's like we're asking for a kidney.

  • At around 2:30, the Drifter noticed our BAD COMPUTER sign and offered to help fix it. Seems he used to do network installation and repair for a living. Unfortunately, the patron computers have security features designed to keep patrons from doing that, so he didn't get very far. I warned him that was the case, but he said he saw it as a challenge. We chatted for a bit after he got tired of fighting the computer. I asked him what kind of flute he had round his neck. "A bamboo flute," he replied. Ah. He said he bought it at the local New Age Crap shop. We also compared notes one how irritating it can sometimes be to work in a public service job. Still, as I explained to him, even on my worst day at the "liberry" it's far less stressful than just about any other job I've had. I may bitch and complain and write excessively lengthy blog entries about it, but I certainly don't hate it.
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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.