Miss E was off this weekend, so I had to work Sunday afternoon. This sucked, cause my wife has been out of town doing a medical school psychiatric rotation at the crazy hospital for two weeks and between the play and work I haven't been able to spend as much time with her as I wanted. Still, we spent the morning together and following a carb-encrusted lunch at McDonald's she drove me to work. While trying to get my car key off my keyring so she could drive home again, I managed to drop all my keys in my milkshake and had to go inside to wash them off.
I should mention that ours is
not a library where patrons spend a lot of time asking us for office
supplies. Their most frequent request is for a pencil and scratch paper.
Sometimes to borrow a stapler. Today though, we had a man I've dubbed
Cranky Liquid Paper Guy who wanted us to be friggin' Office Max.
Cranky Liquid Paper Guy was not only unhappy that he didn't have his own
liquid paper to use, but was also cheesed off because he was under the
gun of some kind of filing deadline. He had what appeared to be at least
two rush job projects which he had to accomplish before the day was
out. Among these were several truly bad-photocopies that he was
interested in further tarnishing by reproducing them on our
devil-copier. And while the damned thing is at least operational
following its recent gut rebuild, the devil-copier has completely given
up on the notion of precision toner adjustment. If the original document
is bad to start with, there's just no helping it. CLPG learned this,
but not before demanding liquid paper. I loaned him our liquid paper pen
and he started correcting.
Along for the ride was Mrs.
Cranky Liquid Paper Guy, who didn't much seem to want to be there. She
mostly stood around looking sullen and interrogating me about our patron
computers. What did you have to do to use one? Did the computers
have internet access? Did you have to have a library card? Did you have
"It's free," I told her. "All you do is
sign up on the clip board and I can log you on one." I also explained
that you get a half hour to use it and can stay later unless someone is
waiting. She seemed suspicious and did not sign up.
CLPG himself began complaining about the quality of our liquid paper
pen. What he really wanted was a traditional bottle of liquid paper. Did we have one? I told him that we did not. This didn't set well with CLPG but he was able to somehow get over it.
one point, I thought he was finished with the Liquid paper, since he
returned it to me and went back to making copies. Oh, no. He came back
to borrow it several more times. Soon he also needed scissors and Scotch
tape and the Liquid Paper again. I finally just left all our supplies
on the desk so he could use them at will.
CLPG suggested to his wife that she could use a computer to type up "the resume." I wondered if he meant typing
up "the resume" as opposed to piecing it together from worse
photocopies of bad originals. She didn't seem too keen on it either way.
Mr. & Mrs. CLPG finally paid for the copies and left, but
threatened to come back later.
Around 3, Cranky Liquid Paper Guy
made good on his threat and returned. This time Mrs. CLPG did want to
use a computer to work on "the resume" after all. Unfortunately, the
computers were all still full and there were two people waiting ahead of
"Oh, we didn't realize they'd be full or we could have reserved one earlier," CLPG said.
"Actually, we don't reserve computers here. It's all first come first served."
"Oh. Well, where we used to live you could reserve
them," he said, in a tone that suggested we're somehow lagging behing in
our service if we don't offer such a plan.
"Yeah, I've heard of that," I told him.
After 20 minutes, I was finally able to bump enough users to give everyone, including Mrs. CLPG, a computer.
After a bit, CLPG asked, "Do you have a typewriter for public use?"
"Well, I can't remember any patrons ever using it, but
we have one. We only use it to make library cards, but if you need to
it's okay by me. Actually, if you need to type something, I'd really
recommend you use a computer instead."
"Can't," he said. "The information on these forms is
wrong and I have to correct it. I can't do that in a computer unless
you have something to scan it in with."
Technically, we do have a scanner. Its upstairs in
the locked staff bathroom until such a time as we have available desk
space for it. I hear some is scheduled to open up in about a year and a
"Nope. Don't have one of those," I said.
At his request, I showed CLPG how to insert paper in
the typewriter and how to line up the form lines with the guide lines on
the typewriter head so he could type on them. Most importantly, I
showed him where the correction ribbon button was. As expected, CLPG
was not a champion typist, so the half-hour that followed went exactly
PECK................. PECK.... PECK... "Aw, dammit," DELETE DELETE DELETE... PECK... "Damn!" DELETE....... PECK........... PECK.
About five minutes into this show, I offered to come
over and do it for him just so I wouldn't have to listen to that for the
length of time I knew it would take him. Nope. He said he had it
under control. Fine.
At around 4:20, Mrs. CLPG was
still on the computer. At 4:22, two new patrons came in and I put them
on the two free computers. If anyone else came in for a computer it was
Mrs. CLPG who'd have to get off. At 4:26, the door opened and the
familiar robot drone of "MAY I PLEASE SIGN UP TO USE A COMPUTER?" hit my
ears. It was PARKA! I almost said, "Dammit, I thought you were gone for good!"
I went back and told Mrs. CLPG she was out of time.
She'd been on the computer for well over an hour at this point. Do you
think she'd done jack toward writing a resume? Hell no. Hadn't even
cracked a word processor. If she had, I might have had justification
for denying Parka a computer in favor of giving her more time for
something useful. But she was just surfing the net.
When I told her she was out of time, she looked
distraught. She went and whispered to her husband for a bit. Rather
than complain about deadlines and pressure, as I'd expected, CLPG asked
if it would be okay for them to type up her resume on the typewriter.
Frankly, I think I would have preferred hearing complaints because
typewriter was the LAST word I wanted to hear in association with
patrons and resumes. His typewriter plan was never EVER going to work.
A decent resume, after all, is not something you can throw together on a
typewriter in less than 30 minutes, particularly when you're a guy who
could probably type better with his asscheeks than his hands. But what
could I do? Tell them no?
PECK....... PECK........ "Oop, I meant to indent that." DELETE DELETE..... PECK.... "Aw, dammit!"
It was maddening! In a fit of service-oriented
mental-self-preservation, I went to the card catalog computer and loaded
Microsoft Word. This is not a computer we let patrons word-process on,
EVER, but dammit, if it would get these people out of here faster and prevent
the huge scene of despair and teeth gnashing I foresaw going down at
closing time, I was letting them use it.
"No, that's okay," CLPG said after I'd offered him the computer. "We've already started over here."
Fine! Do it the hard way, if you must. You'll get no sympathy from me come 5 p.m.
However, a few more pecks and deletes into the process
must have turned a lightbulb on in his head, cause they gave up on the
typewriter and restarted on the computer. This time it only took about
10 minutes for CLPG to figure out this too was a hopeless cause. They
thanked me for my time and help, paid us for the copies and left, sans
"the resume" and the big nasty parting scene.
The wife came to get me at 5. She'd planned to pick me
up, eat dinner and then hit the road for the crazy hospital once again.
However, seeing how pitiful I'd been about her having to leave, she'd
had a change of heart during the afternoon. She decided to stay the
night and just leave at the butt crack of dawn. Looks like Sunday work
was worth it.